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Posts Tagged ‘physics’

Focusing my camera on rocks and water and sand on the shores of Revere Beach. There’s a story in their interaction but I just don’t know how to read it yet. That’s why yesterday I picked up Tristan Gooley’s How to Read Water. It’s subtitle – Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea – captured me. If I don’t post for a while, it’ll be because I’m lost a darn good book. Meanwhile, have a good weekend, folks. 🙂

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… light, wind, and water in action at the Copley Square fountain in Boston. It was a breezy day with bright sun. I sat by the water’s edge with my camera tucked away, intent upon eating a late lunch. I’m glad I had no expectation because I may not have seen what I did see just by sitting quietly by the water. After a while I could not ignore what I was seeing and so I had to put away my lunch, dig out my camera, and begin to photograph the motion before me.

Autumn leaves floating on the water’s surface first caught my attention, but the brightest of the leaves lay on the bottom.  I’m not sure what forces kept them there even as the fountain’s mechanics and nature’s wind erratically churned the water. The sun was bright too, low angled. It dispersed in the waters producing rainbows.

Nearby buildings and surrounding trees were reflected so they appeared to float above the sunken leaves. A friend came over and sat next to me, and while I listened intently, yes I did, my eyes kept sliding back to the water to see what a friend describes as the accidental and casual things water does to light.

Accept for playing around with my ISO settings on the spot, there is minimal post processing of these images. If you chance by the fountain and sit by its side, if the day is sunny and the wind is rippling the water’s surface, this is what you might see too. Or maybe something different. But I think it will all be beautiful.

 

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and the sand shapes the water. A view while crouching in the sand at Revere Beach. Available as blank notecard here.

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Caustic in Black & White 1

Okay, I first remember reading about John Cage in a story by Alex Ross of The New Yorker. The piece opened with a description of the 1952 performance of John Cage’s composition, 4’33”, which turned out to be four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence. It’s a bit more complicated than that, or maybe not, but you can read more via this article link.  John Cage and silence came to mind recently because I was sharing a video I’d made with the physicist in my life and when I asked him what piece of music should I pair with these images, he suggested, “soundtrack by John Cage.”

Caustic in Black & White 2

Caustic in Black & White 2

At first I thought he was kidding.  There had to be a short classical piece to fit the light and motion so reminiscent of northern lights.  When I’d asked him what music to pair with a short video of sunlit water flowing over rocks, he’d suggested Faure’s Requiem in Paradisum.  Now he recommended silence? On my own, I found Bartock’s Evening in the Village. I tried the pairing. He appreciated Bartok but he still favored Cage.  I read a bit more about Cage, his compositions, his performances, his poetry … an interesting man to say the last.

Caustics in Color

Caustics in Color

So what I captured on the wall one morning took place in less than four minutes and thirty-three seconds.  It involved a rippled window, a different one in the house.  Light shone down through the gaps in the leaves and branches of the oak tree that towers over the house.  That light made its way through the glass refracting through the ripples producing a dynamic pattern of caustics on the wall.  Most often that pattern of light is static but this particular morning the wind was blowing. The branches and the leaves they moved creating what that physicist described as “a pattern of illumination that varied in space and time.” It was a good moment inspiring some experimentation as you can see in the video below.  The flickering on the wall is as it happened … in less than four minutes and thirty-three seconds.

A Silent Dance from Cynthia Staples on Vimeo.

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Dispersion.  The separation of visible light into different colors.  This is simply sunlight shining through a glass of sparkling water. What a wonderful world. 😉

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The story behind the image:  Steve and I were taking a short walk along Revere Beach.  The tide had receded quite a bit.  He followed the water. I stayed on shore searching out seashells and stones and wishing I’d worn a thicker sweater.  As he returned to me, he suddenly paused and shouted, “Come here. You have to see this.” I raced over and looked down at where he was pointing.  Lines and curves in the sand?  “Bifurcation diagrams in nature,” he exclaimed.  I peered more closely, frowning.  He tried explaining the mathematics of what he saw for me. “It’s like the multiplication of little streams leading to chaos.” “Well,” I said slowly, “I’m reminded of those Asian landscape paintings of mountains with cascading waterfalls over the rocks.”  We studied the sand for a bit longer, he helping to point out different ways to frame photographs of the bifurcation he was seeing, and we both appreciating our different perspectives of the world.

A poster print of this “mountainous” scene is available online here.

 

 

 

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