Sunday, 9 September 2012

The beauty of things

The quality of September light has struck me as never before this year. It is so warm and golden, bringing a rich glow to the world as it falls low and slow on trees, flowers, fields and hedges. It invests everyday scenes and objects with a luminescence that seems to draw the eye anew. Coincidentally (or not?) I have also started using the instagram app on my iphone to treat photos that I have taken on it. The array of filters and effects that it brings provides a remarkably quick and effective way of enhancing shots. The phone is never going to be as good a camera as a fully functioning digital SLR, but it is portable and always with me, so when an opportunity arises I can usually capture something. And once treated with instagram, the low quality of the exposure can almost contribute to the effect, as with this photo of a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) I took over the weekend.

As with such things, it is very easy to fall into a single aesthetic, forced down a set path by pre-set filters, so that everything ends up looking the same, consequently you wouldn't want to use it all the time. But in applying a sheen to the everyday it makes one look at things in a new way. According to the argument of Oscar Wilde, one of the main roles of art is to refresh the mental filters through which we see the world - as he put it 'life imitates art', arguing that when we see a beautiful sunset we are merely seeing it because artists like Turner have revealed its beauty to us. I wouldn't necessarily go along with that totally but I would agree that art has a very powerful way of constructing our view of the world, whether in an aesthetic or narrative sense. And maybe that partly explains my reaction to the September light this year - I am simply seeing through a subliminal instagram filter. So, though not putting it in the category of great art, it reminds me that nature can be so simply exquisite, as in the case of this young grass snake (Natrix natrix) in our garden. And that is no bad thing.

1 comment:

  1. I play with instagram a bit and you have inspired me to play again. I have several other 'old' filter effects and i always wonder whether it would be best to shot them clean first and then play in photoshop afterwards, or in the darkroom - thats the teacher in me talking. The reality is however that instagram and other programmes are quick, do it now, easy - and as such you actually get on with it and the immediacy can actually add to the archive impermanence of the outcomes.

    Love the young grass snake, I've never seen a little one and by god I have looked, they are just not about much here and the ones I saw in Norfolk as a child were always quite big and frequently swimming, while I was out fishing for eels.