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Second Sight

August 31, 2018

On this final day of August, the signs of the changing seasons are all around me. The days are getting shorter. The quality of the light has changed. In the garden, the annuals are mostly spent and scabby looking. Autumn approaches. 

Autumn. I feel as though I need to do so many things to prepare for it, for the winter that lies beyond, and for spring beyond that. I feel rushed, almost frantic, possessed by a manic compulsion to hurry, hurry, hurry.

It's been a busy year. This spring I put in a huge new garden and all season I've been inundated by rich color, fragrance, and texture. Finally, I had roses again! I had incredible sunflowers. The zinnias, dill, and cleosia outdid themselves and all summer I had clouds of butterflies outside and stunning bouquets in the house. It's been an exciting ride but oddly overstimulating. Lately I've felt the need to quiet things down. Pare back. Limit the variables.

When I feel like this I often turn to black and white images. With the color gone my subjects present themselves differently. Line, form, and texture become visible in a way they can't in the color images. The bones become visible in the same way that the bones of the landscape become visible as autumn flows into winter. The leaves fall, the colors mute, and suddenly I see the tracery of branches revealed, old bird's nests tucked into dense shrubbery, and the gentle undulation of the surrounding countryside.

Taking an image I've originally done in color to black and white gives me the gift of second sight. I get to see something I thought I knew with fresh eyes. It gives me a sense of quiet perspective. And, right now, that's exactly what I crave. 


@ Karen Opp James. All rights reserved.





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