Every now and then, on the green hill across the street from my house in the suburbs, on the outskirts of the city, horses appear like magic. Gone for ages, then suddenly appearing….and yesterday they were back after a long absence.
Four of them, 3 horses and one little pony. With 4 apples in hand we made our way up the hill to see them. My daughter, loving the child sized pony, and I, preferring the largest of them all.
Gentle giants of the hill, I am so glad to see you.
“Don’t you get bored photographing the same thing?” It was a question I was asked today. And I smiled. Yes, it is the same road that I travel almost every week, backward and forward. A road I know every well now. Travelling the same road along the coast for nearly an hour each way. But bored?…No! Every moment offers a new photo opportunity…different light, different weather, different time of day, different season, different focus, different mental state, different camera lens and settings…so many variables…so many opportunities to get that one image that is the elusive “one”.
So, yes, it may be the same old road. But for a million other reasons, it’s a new day…and a new photo.
That’s our role, isn’t it as artists…to look at the same old thing as if we are looking at it for the first time?
It was as if all the leaves on this plant had been sprinkled with loose diamonds….the green leaves were all shimmery and glistening with tiny diamonds it seemed. I looked again and realised it was tiny droplets of rain making the diamond bright sparkles on the leaves, in the morning sunshine.
When I was growing up here in provincial New Zealand, it was all about sheep. There were apparently 60 million sheep and only 3 million of us people…a fact all children seemed to know. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing sheep on the landscape. Now, apart from the odd lifestyle block with a couple of lambs, the rural scene is almost deserted of sheep. The vista of farmland now is entirely dominated by intensive dairy farming. But I did spot this little woolly scene while travelling recently. A sign of times gone by and I wondered as I took the photo… where did all the sheep, with their economic promises of wool and meat, (and not too forget their insanely cute little lambs) go?
It is odd looking at this image now. It was taken just a few weeks ago, but today it is wet, wild, windy and looking to stay that way for a quite a while. It is grey, bleak and wintry. And this will be followed by green. Not a pale green, but a lush, verdant green grass kind of green. The farmers will be happy no doubt with rain and subsequent green grass, but I will miss the beloved golden hues of the landscape of a hot, dry summer.
I don’t typically take a lot of photographs of the mountain. But you can’t deny it’s majestic presence and its imprint on the psyche of anyone who lives here. Ask any child from around here to draw where they live and the familiar conical shape with its ‘too perfect’ snow cap (for most of the year) is almost without exception, the first thing they draw. It really is the sign of “home” that we all recognise.
I was doing observational painting today with a group of children. It was so inspiring and enjoyable to see their passion and enthusiasm for art, nature and painting. Surrounded by spectacular trees, a stunningly wide river, lots of rocks and grassy meadows, a garden full of vibrant flowers…what did they mostly paint when asked to paint a symbol representing where they were ? What inspired them most? Not the river, or the flowers or the trees… No, they tended to look beyond the obvious. Many cast their eyes into the distance and found the sign of home, their mountain.
A stunning garden path I discovered recently, while walking in one of our stunning parks. The white hydrangeas were stunning against the green grass…a perfect match!
The bells ring out on Marsland Hill every day and what a beautiful sound they make. I would like to hear their daily ritual but do not live close enough and have to settle for catching them occasionally by accident when in the area.
But, nothing sounds more like Christmas than the sound of bells ringing, pure, loud and joyous, so today’s Alphabet Advent calendar on day two, is the letter B for Bells at Christmas time…
Sometimes you get unexpected surprises in your photography. In life, also. We must always be open to the joy (and sometimes shock) that can accompany surprises. In photography it means being open to taking chances on shots that might or might not work as we expect or hope. In life it means not being too rigid in our plans and ideas, not being too set in our ways, never saying “never”…We have to leave space in our life to be surprised, to expect the unexpected, to invite a little chaos, uncertainty and unpredictability in…because it feeds our fire.
Rain in the hills. Then.
It is raining again now too.