Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This Is Not A Painting

I can not stop looking at this photo.* It's the National Geographic Photo of the Day from yesterday and supposedly, it's not some magical work of photoshop or a paintbrush. It's an actual photograph.

That orange backdrop is the reflection of the rising sun off a dune in Namibia. The trees are a very real part of one of the country's largest national parks.

Surreal; never has a word been more, and less, apropos than that one to describe something as it does this photo.

*This sentence is likely somewhat false. If taken literally, it is completely false. It is fully within my power to stop looking at the photo and I've been able to avert my eyes more than ten times even since writing that sentence. If taken figuratively, it is somewhat false. My intention was not to deceive, but the phrasing leaves a lot up to the reader to interpret in order to determine my actual degree of interest in looking at the photo. For instance, it is conceivable that I would use the same phrase to describe my interest in a photograph that I am actually one hundred times more interested in. In which case, the reader would, for one of the photos or the other, be off by a factor of one hundred when estimating my actual interest in the photo. The reader's interpretation of my interest level matters because in their mind it is a communication of my values. How the reader interprets something isn't necessarily my responsibility, but attempting to communicate the appropriate sentiment is. I was using the sentence as an expression to communicate that I am slightly mesmerized by the aesthetic of the photograph combined with the knowledge that it is just a photograph, in a this-is-a-random-photo-of-landscape-not-a-picture-of-my-wife-and-son sort of way. One could argue that expressions like the one I used do more harm than good when trying to express thoughts on any matter. Have a nice day.