For this Monochrome Monday, I felt this old, antique horse trailer was an opportunity to discuss the relationship between our appreciation of antiques and the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi.
Most of us have an appreciation for antique objects. The rarity, classic construction, weathered surfaces and perhaps, the remembrance or our own distant past. Ironically, there is also intrinsic beauty found amidst rusty relics, patina surfaces and weathered structures. These sensibilities can be associated with the traditional Japanese aesthetic Wabi-sabi.
“Wabi” is the paradoxical beauty perceived from natural imperfection and asymmetry found in hand made objects. This is in contrast with unnatural “perfection” derived from machine manufacturing. Wabi originates from the notion of minimalism, peaceful existence and harmony with nature.
“Sabi” is the aesthetic qualities of well used, and well cared for objects, achieved only over a long period of time. Think of a well-worn pair of blue jeans, green oxidized copper tools or sculpture, and upcycled, distressed barn wood home furnishings. Sabi originates from Buddhist teachings around the temporariness aspects of life, and appreciation of the wisdom, dignity and grace that comes with old age.
Brought together, in Wabi-Sabi there is a humility and simplicity, appreciation of the marks of time, acceptance of our transience in the natural cycle of life, and an enlightened communion with nature. There is also an acceptance of the world, and ourselves, as genuine—without artificial adornment or embellishment.
When I observe antique objects, or abandoned structures, I appreciate the craftsman’s labor of love and my mind envisions the souls who once used the objects or inhabited the spaces. They were once part of, and contributed to, the life experiences of the original owner. Made of wood, metal, stone or woven fabric, they are like us, subject to Mother Nature’s slow and persistent process of reclamation.
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During our family vacation at Ocean Isle Beach last July, we made our traditional sunset visit to the local pier. I quickly noticed a different light characteristic than what I was used to. The light was noticeably cooler. Later I remembered this visit was a little later than usual, the sun had just set at the horizon.
As sunset approaches the kelvin temperature of light typically drops resulting in the “golden hour” light. But after sunset, the kelvin temperature rise back up, cooling things off. As in sunrise, this transition point offers a great range of color temperatures. Warm yellow and orange, sun touched tonality sits just above cooler magenta and purple tonality just out of reach of the sun’s rays.
Shooting at twilight required use of a much higher ISO, this series was shot between 2000 – 3200 ISO. Though my Nikon D750 does a nice job with higher ISO noise reduction, this series still required some noise and moire reduction processing. After applying an Ektachrome slide film emulation the remaining noise was seamlessly blended into the film grain structure.
Below, I included a 2015 photo of the same scene taken 20 minutes earlier in the day, just before sunset. It’s a great example of the lighting change from just before sunset, to just after – twilight time.
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I used my Tamron 15-30 mm wide angle lens to capture this dramatic view of the Sunset Beach Bridge and Boat Ramp. There were several blue, yellow, orange and green luminosity tweaks involved to get the optimal tonality spread. At the end of my black and white workflow, I applied my standard Agfa APX 100 b&w film emulation using Alien Skin’s Exposure X3 software.
Growing up, I recall avoiding the Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) as I walked to and from the Carolina’s various beaches. The dried, spiked seed-heads were almost as painful as the dreaded sandspur when stepped on with bare feet! But now, I more appreciate their beauty and genetic diversity. I’m considering planting them near my water garden.
These specimens are from my recent vacation to Ocean Isle Beach. I decided to try a monochrome version of the the first composition above. I brought down the luminosity of oranges and reds to get an acceptable range of tonality mostly on the left flower, from the petal’s red base, out to the yellow tip. I also lowered the luminosity of the greens to give the flowers a little more prominence. I actually like this version as much as the color.
These images are best experienced by clicking on the image to view a high resolution version from my portfolio site. Especially seeing the small spider on the left flower in the first two, and the bumble bee in the last.
My neighbor’s Cleome Spider Flower plants (Cleome hassleriana) just keeps on blooming! Good thing, last week, I finally got a chance to capture some great early morning compositions. It was so much fun visually studying this exotic plant. The local honey bees seemed to enjoy as well.
Compound leaves, of five to seven leaflets, spiral up the main stalk with flowers of four to six petals and the six characteristically long whisker like stamens. This complex structure results in a strikingly abstract, yet systematic subject when photographed up close. Though the plant is an annual, gardeners can usually count on the Cleome to self-seed for the next season.
Interestingly, the next two compositions patricularly offer a sense of backyard fireworks!
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On a half day fishing trip in July, we were heading out on the Little River toward the ocean when we passed this abandoned shrimp boat during low tide at the intersection with the Intracostal Waterway. I captured several high tide images coming back up the river to Calabash. A year ago, there was apparently engine trouble and the boat ran aground on Bird Island, near Sunset Beach. It was later towed to this spot, and then abandoned.
Not until I was editing these pictures did I notice the boat’s name – Sum Day. Ha, not the “Love Boat” graffiti painted on the front. I then recalled photographing the Sum Day back in the summer of 2015.
Below are some photos of the Sum Day from my August 2015 Calabash! post. For the best viewing experience, click on these images to see a high resolution version.
The gnarly wood and rusty chains of this trawl board caught my eye on the Calabash boardwalk. The 4 ft by 3 ft trawl board (or door), is used underwater on the left and right side of the shrimp net. At the right boat speed, the boards create enough drag to spread and maintain the horizontal net opening – where shrimp enter the net.
For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version from my portfolio site.