Things Unseen


"Thin Layer of Chaos" - evening light on the winter's first freeze of the Mendenhall Lake


I was able to find an elaborate landscape of bubbles locked in the thin ice that was allowing my travel across the Mendenhall Lake. It was precisely the type of subject I was looking for, especially after I determined that the icebergs were too unstable for my taste (necessary distance wouldn’t allow for the desired abstraction of shapes and textures). While the intricate details and reflected sunlight were not unappreciated in the natural scene, the photographic presentation here (“Thin Layer of Chaos”) differs markedly from what I witnessed in the field. Some photographers will profess that an image represents what they saw in their “mind’s eye”, but I can claim no such thing. My visualization only went so far as to say that heaping contrast into a monochrome version of the image was bound to turn out something aesthetically interesting, something a viewer would want to explore. Working with the photo in black and white, I pushed the black clipping slider all the way to its maximum (something I would have been unwilling to try in color). Though satisfied with my efforts to that point, I chose to take a peek back into the color version, honestly expecting something completely unsatisfying. Instead, the photograph sprang to life. Avoiding the fairytale realm, the results were surprisingly realistic. In the final stages of adjustments, I actually moved even further away from the “anchor” of the scene as I had experienced it in order to give the best possible treatment for the more incredible qualities of the subject.


There is more to the things we see than what we see of them. Eyes are a single tool with which to experience the workings and the beauties of the world. Sometimes photographers with their cameras make a tireless effort to measure up to the splendor of a scene with only a hint of success. Other times, the camera allows us to make a record of things unseen.



"Monochrome Chaos" - a more traditionally acceptable black and white rendition of the above photo