The photo isn’t always what you think

Dufy's "Indoors With The Window Open"
Dufy’s “Indoors With The Window Open”

The photographer focuses on his subject and shoots.  But it is not always the photographer’s subject that catches the viewer’s eye.

I recently rediscovered this phenomenon on Facebook, not once but twice.

Nebra posted a photo that I took of her.  The focus was a skirt Nebra was modeling.  It had a thin green design on a cream background.  It was important to Nebra because it once belonged to her mother who has been dead for many years.  Nebra was proud of the skirt and spread it out with her hands so the pattern could be seen more clearly.

But it was not the skirt that grabbed the eye of “Andrea.”

This Facebook Friend of Nebra’s looked past the skirt to a colorful painting, a print actually, by Raoul Dufy that hangs on our diningroom wall.  Andrea wanted to know more.

It's the fork, not the cake
It’s the fork, not the cake

Dufy did the painting in 1928 from his apartment’s double-windows overlooking the Bay of The Angels at Nice, in France.   One window on the left is a faraway look at the Nice coastline apparently a night, or during a storm.  The right window shows a closer view of the same coastline in bright sunlight.  I’ve searched for symbolism but so far have come up with nothing satisfying.  I purchased the print because it made me feel happy and as a reminder of a great trip we took years ago to the Riviera.

In her comment, “Andrea” did not mention Nebra’s skirt.

The second example came after I had posted a vignette and photo about my addiction to a certain chocolate cake.  The photo was a close-up of a scrumptious three-layer cake on a plate set atop a deli table in Phoenix.  But it was not just the cake that amused my Friend “Paul.”

This flower bed cropped from larger photo.
This flower bed cropped from larger photo.

What “Paul” noticed was the fork, partly seen behind the cake.  And the smudge of icing nearby.  From that he had drawn an accurate conclusion:  I had been unable to control myself before shooting the photo and had taken a bite into that wonderful universe of decadent chocolate.   Very perceptive by “Paul” but something I might expect from a good journalist.

I too have found my eye wandering, even in my own photos.

Not long ago, for instance, I photographed scenes from the Desert Botanical Garden, on the east edge of the city.  In one photo, I concentrated on a small cluster of beautiful flowers with a green-barked palo verde tree as the centerpiece. But as I looked at the photo, my eye was drawn to a small cluster of purple flowers with blue centers, set in a field of varying greens.  I ended up cropping the photo and making these purple flowers my desktop background.  Now, here in the heat of midsummer, the scene makes me feel cool and comfortable.

Deadwood given life by sunlight.
Deadwood given life by sunlight.

Also I recently shot a photo of some deadwood in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve where I hike.   But what caught my eye was dying sunlight shining through the deadwood’s scaling bark, giving it “life.”  I cropped it and have a satisfying photo.

All of this may be much ado about nothing.  But to me it is interesting.  And, I’ve found, that it is often life’s little things that touch the soul most.

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