In The Garden

In The Garden

Well after a few weeks off I am ready to dive back into some new music related posts for all of you. During my little break I thought about the origins of this space, about what made me want to combine my own photographs with music in the first place. I was also thinking about how in some ways I slipped away from ‘owning’ this idea of mine recently.  I can now see  how ideas evolve and grow over passage of time. As my photography continues to evolve, so too does my writing.  The things I write today are quite different from what I wrote over four years ago at the start. Sometimes though things can unintentionally go off course. I realized during my break that I had always intended this place to be so much more than just writing about a song. I wanted it to be a creative space, linking words, music, and imagery all together as one. Finding connections between them all. In this coming year I plan to get back to that and I have some ideas for making this happen.

Another thing I realized is that sometimes I hear a new song and know exactly what I want to do with it.  More often than not however, I might know a song for years but do not feel like I have the right photo that pairs up with it in a satisfactory way…because I have not actually taken it yet. Once I find the right one though it reminds me of why I started writing in the first place. Why I wanted to ‘create’.  I can listen to a song and nod my head in agreement with the story or sentiments of the song. I can look at a photo and remember the moment I took it.  When I first started this all off I chose a song by Ralph McTell for my first post.  As I recall the origins of this blog I thought a return to his music might be a good idea. And an idea formed  when I looked back on some photos I took of a butterfly last summer.

The older I get I sometimes think about why things are the way they are in the world. Why is so much of the money and power in the hands of such few? Why does  poverty, starvation, and war still exist? I have no answers myself, but  I wonder if the answer actually lies in us not understanding HOW we  think as individuals. Not what we think…but how we think. Some people are incredibly savvy and quick witted with solutions and answers ready instantly, their brains hard-wired to assess and respond. Others need time to develop those answers because their brains are wired a little differently. The thoughts might be there but the words do not form so readily.  Others still may not be able to answer yet that does not, or should never be perceived as not understanding. In many ways, they might be the wisest of all. That is what Ralph McTell’s classic song Michael In The Garden is about. Perceptions and awareness heightened in the mind of a young boy most likely with autism of some type.

The brilliance of the song is in placing not just a mental wall between Michael but also a physical wall between the adults in the building that inhabit his world. They spend their days making judgments ‘in their wisdom’ while Michael sits in the garden observing things that no one else does. The lyrics take you inside both worlds, but it is the realization that Michael sees so much, hears so much…feels so much that pulls you into the song. How they call his name inside the building but he does not respond. Instead he hears each leaf as it falls. I might sit and enjoy listening to the wind in the trees with a cup of coffee on an autumn day, but to have the ability, the patience to listen to the sound of a single leaf falling would be an astounding feat. But that is part of Michael’s world, along with observing the broken wings of a butterfly dying.

Last summer not long before going out for the day, my wife pointed out a single butterfly darting between the flowers on our window boxes on the balcony. It was so beautiful to see that I grabbed my camera and took photos through the glass on the balcony door so as not to disturb my new friend. There was stillness. There was motion. There was beauty in the butterfly’s movements and flight.

When I looked at these photos again the words of Ralph’s song came into my head. I thought about how the appearance of a lone butterfly on a warm summer day made such an impression on me. How watching it for a scant few moments (even through the lens of the camera) elicited such a response. I thought how so much of my life is spent ‘inside the building’ struggling to organize and verbalize the words in my head. Fighting against those that by virtue of being quicker on the draw are perceived as being smarter, successful and more in control. Worrying about so much beyond my control that is actually rather silly when you really stop and think. The last verse of the song really drives that point home. Even when I think about those worries, about bills and work and other realities, it would be nice to see what Michael sees in the garden-

“Oh Michael sees all
Behind the high walls
Surrounding his kingdom
Whilst we in our wisdom
Still trapped in the spider’s web
Far from the flow and ebb
Of life in the garden
But Michael has pardoned
us for he sees
That really he’s free
And there’s nothing to mend
For his wings are not broken”

 

*A note on the version of the song I used. In a career of over 50 years writing, releasing albums and performing great songs, Michael In The Garden stands as one of his very best and most popular. As such there are many recorded versions out there. I chose this live version from my favorite album of Ralph’s. Why? Because it is honest and real. There is an ever so slight ‘off’ note on the guitar. There is also a lot of emotion to his voice that makes this version more special to me.

Michael In The Garden-Written By Ralph McTell

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Monochrome Mondays

The Fog

Fog. Foggy Morning. In From The Fog…

I  have wanted to capture a photo in dense fog for quite some time. Call it bad luck on my part or maybe an unwillingness to jump out of bed early in the morning when it is most likely to be at its peak, but after 16 years or so of taking photography more seriously, it really has not happened with the desired results yet. But the other morning it did. I had a little more time walking to work on Friday morning. When that happens I like to deviate from the shorter walk to the subway. Walking along the river only adds about 5 minutes or so, but I tend to leave it for the walk home. In any case, as soon as I reached the pathway I noticed sheets of fog rising from the East River and at times making Manhattan on the other side disappear.

As I was walking south towards the subway, I pulled out the camera even though there was a slight drizzle. I tried a color photo at first, but it did not seem to really capture the mood. I switched to monochrome.  Once the 59th Street Bridge came into view I hoped the fog would continue drifting in the same way because I sensed a really good photo forming in my mind. You can imagine that the bridge dominates the view from that pathway, and it takes a few minutes to get to the vantage point I took the photo above from. I took another photo, hoping the movement of the fog would stay in place and not dissipate so the structure of the bridge and nearby buildings were visible.

Then it happened. Out of the corner of my left eye, I saw the Roosevelt Island Tramway come into view. Instinctively the idea formed in a flash because there was a large concentration of fog near the bridge tower, where the tram would be passing in a scant few moments. I looked ahead briefly and saw there was a point where the pathway jutted out on the river. I knew this would give me a better panorama of the river and bridge. I just had to get there. It almost didn’t happen because in my excitement, I very nearly took a spill on a patch of ice I had not seen. Undaunted, I gripped the camera tightly and ran with my eye on the Tramway’s movement, hoping it would not move too far ahead. It all happened so fast, but in a few moments I deemed my position to be good enough. My settings were satisfactory since I had adjusted them earlier. I planted my feet firmly and pressed the shutter, knowing I had to be quick…and then a bird swooped down as if on cue balancing the middle portion of the photo out.

It was one of those moments when I was really excited by what had happened. The buzz of having an idea formulate so quickly and to have it come out the way I wanted is a great feeling for a photographer. Let me know what you think!

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Monochrome Mondays

Hello and welcome back for the first time in about a month to Monochrome Mondays. It is also the first new post of 2018 so without further adieu, here we go!

Big Allis, Queens

As I write, New York City and much of the east coast of the U.S. has been in deep Arctic freeze. Brutally cold temperatures and wind chills. Winter still has a long way to go of course, but I sincerely hope we do not get any deep freezes that last as long as this one has! Partly because it has kept me from wanting to head off walking around taking new photos. Yesterday though I did a bit of writing in a coffee shop and took my camera along. On Saturday we were doing some errands when my wife pointed out the smoke belching out of the nearby power plant known as ‘Big Allis’ not far from our apartment. I did not have my camera, but I took a shot with my phone of the smoke set against the blue chilled sky. Yesterday I saw the same sight (the smoke stacks dominate our neighborhood and can be seen from practically any angle ) but instinctively switched the camera over to monochrome to see what that might look like. Now, I am not thrilled  in environmental terms that those smoke stacks are doing that of course, but there is no denying that it made for an interesting monochrome photo.

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

*Photo Shuffle is a new, very short slice of my regular blogs based on setting my Ipod on shuffle and matching up one of my photographs to whatever comes up.

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Waves

Waves crashing in…waves crashing out…

Funny thing this. Last year at this time I remember thinking once my best of the year posts were published, I would take a few weeks off and recharge the batteries for the new year. But I felt I had to write one more post in the week between Christmas and New Years. Once again I think… I feel I need to do that once again this year. Maybe all the pressure about shopping and gifts and visiting people that comes this time of year freezes me up from finding space to write about a topic and once the New Year is upon us I find it again. Maybe I do just need to tell myself-shut up Doyle, as one acquaintance famously said to my wife and I once in a lighthearted jab. In any event on Christmas Eve I took a few photos that seemed to sum up my year on many levels.

This year seemed to be defined for me by one word-waves. Waves along the river where I enjoy walking. Ocean waves at Rockaway Beach where I visited twice this year. Waves at Coney Island, on the shore of Lake George, on the New Jersey shore, on Long Island. That rhythmic push/pull of actual waves seemed to define my year on many levels.

For whatever reason I have not taken advantage of taking photos from the roof of my building but on Christmas Eve I did because I saw a particularly epic sky looming in front of me. But instead of skylines and colors what I saw was a pattern that looked like waves crashing over the nearby buildings. And it made me think that maybe I should work on one more post. And it would involve that so simple yet so meaningful symbolism of waves.

Waves crashing in-new friendships made or rekindled, old friendships continually strengthened.

Waves crashing out-friendships lost out to sea for various reasons.

Waves crashing in-physical health of those nearest to me in good shape

Waves crashing out-mental health of those nearest to me not in such good shape

Waves crashing in-good things to look forward to in 2018

Waves crashing out-2017 not a particularly good year personally for no particular reason

Waves crashing in-this place, my creation doing better than ever yet…

Waves crashing out-audience and friendships seem to be drifting out to sea for reasons I cannot define.

Waves crashing in-feeling that my words and art are becoming more defined yet…

Waves crashing out-wishing it could be so much more

Waves crashing in-continually inspired by the art of others but…

Waves crashing out-struggling to capitalize on that inspiration in my own voice

Waves crashing in-learning after almost 50 years to speak up for myself

Waves crashing out-wondering why the fuck it took me so long to do it

Waves crashing in-having ideas to break out of this introvert cloud

Waves crashing out-seeing those ideas collapse because of it.

Waves crashing in-happy with the growth in my photography this year

Waves crashing out-wondering where I go from here with it.

Ideas like this are not really new or unique of course, and I’m sure most of us play this game in our minds. I truly did have some good times this year and shared a lot of laughs and quite a few glasses of beer or wine with my wife and friends. But there just seemed to be a fog, or malaise over 2017 as a friend of mine recently pointed out. Politics, economics and news cycles may play a part, but I’m not sure it is the only cause. The temptation is always to say “I’m going to start fresh in the new year” with promises of losing 30lbs, changing jobs, travelling the world. Great if you can manage to do a few of those things, I am not so cynical to say it will never happen. But life gets complex sometimes and for some of us, the best we can manage is one or two of those goals. And that’s okay too.

Earlier this year I wrote a post about how when I get in a photography rut that it helps to do the opposite essentially and I used a song lyric to prove that point. It actually did wonders for me. And as I sat in an amazing new coffee shop just now trying to come up with a way to end this, I realized that I need to do the same thing with life this coming year. Turn it all around and where what I wrote above starts with the positive and goes negative, waves crashing in and crashing out, I need things to go in the opposite direction. Waves crashing out taking away the negative. Waves crashing in bringing the positive. And that cycle that continues every day, every month, every year will bring good things with it.  Now how about a happy little song to close this year out here at Soundtrack Of A Photograph? Here is a song from Thea Gilmore’s excellent album ‘The Counterweight’ released earlier this year. Happy New Year everyone!

 

Sounds Good To Me-Written By Thea Gilmore

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2017 In Photos-Part 2

Following on from yesterday’s Part 1 of my favorite photos I took this year, I give you Part 2 now. Click and view them large screen to really get the best view. Let me know what your favorites are in the comments below! After this post I will be taking a week or so off from all blogging commitments for the Holidays, but rest assured I will be back very soon with new photos, and new music to write about.

Soundtrack Of A Photograph-Where Music Meets Photography.

 

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2017 In Photos-Part 1

Well here we are again. Another one of those end of the year summaries. Last week I presented you with some of my favorite music related posts I wrote this year. This time I present some of my favorite photos I took this year. We did not go on any vacations this year so most of these were taken in and around New York City and a few other locations. Despite the lack of destinations, I feel really good about my photography these days and this year in particular. Necessity caused me to get a new camera and together with a new zoom lens I was able to use those new tools and hone my skills. In some ways I think part of my inability to write as many music driven posts here this year has been a result of my growth as a photographer. Next year I hope to balance that equation out but until then, here are the first batch of my favorites. There will be a Part 2 tomorrow. Some of these have been in previous posts, some may be new to those of you who follow me here. Word of advice…open them up full screen and view them large, the way they are meant to be seen. And if you are so willing, please share this if you can to anyone who likes a good photograph of (I hope) interesting subjects. Let me know your favorites in the comments below!

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Monochrome Mondays

I seem to have a thing for lights recently. Something about the contrast of light and darkness utilizing monochrome is really striking. The lights are not technically ‘white’ but the appearance they give makes them look that way. Combined with the black of night and I could probably ramble on for a 1000 more words about all the ways this is significant and representative of society or even my own life. I could…but I won’t this time! I am keeping this post short today because there is a lot going on right now-work, holiday rush, and other things are cutting into my creative time right now. However that is not going to stop me from sharing this photo out to you which I took recently. I had walked past this building a few times, but never at night and the pattern these lights cast was too alluring for me to resist!

And I want to also mention to keep your eye out in the next few days for my own ‘Best Of’ Photo selections for 2017. Honestly, I have so many, that I’m going to do it in two posts, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can catch up on some of my favorite music themed posts of 2017 right here.

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