A different kind of project . . . .

At the foot of the road where we live is a little drainage pond that is designed to control the flow of water through the storm sewer system.  A couple of years ago, it was dredged and landscaped to keep it full of water and provide more wildlife habitat.  The path across the little levee that helps form the pond is on my regular dog-walking route so I see it most days and have become fascinated with how it changes through the seasons.  It's home to ducks, our non-migratory Canadian geese, a regal Great Blue Heron, little frogs, escaped goldfish, any number of insects, and nocturnal animals if the dog's fascination with the smells in the weeds is any indication. 

 

Pond Weeds in Snow

Winter's Bones

For a number of reasons, I haven't been shooting in the studio as much as I would like (never fear - more sessions with dancers and nudes are on the calendar) so I began carrying my camera along when I walk the dog in the morning and evening just to see what might catch my eye at the pond.  I don't think of myself as a landscape photographer, really, but I have enjoyed the challenge of looking deeply into the same small bit of land over and over again as the weather, the light, and my perception and mood change. 

At first, I thought my photo forays with Ruby (the dog), were simply a way to keep my eye sharp but I think the images of the pond are beginning to turn into a project.  I hope to keep shooting at the pond over the course of the year, exploring an aesthetic of small places, and (hopefully) subtle images through the seasons. 

The pond images have also helped me reflect on the places that Nature occupies in the suburban world. We tend to think of Nature as apart from us, as something that lives in its own separate space, a space that we must go to to know Nature.  Our images of it tend to be romantic and heroic (e.g. Ansel Adams' dramatic landscapes).  But at our little pond, I have been fascinated by what is, in fact, a very arbitrary division between Nature and Not.  The heron stalks fish just yards from a busy highway.  A lost kickball floats in the middle of the pond. 

Pond Shadows

Pond Shadows

Cattails in Ice

Cattails in Ice

I'm certainly not the first one to explore these issues, nor likely the best.  John Gossage's book The Pond sets the bar.  But I like getting out of the studio, away from the figure for a bit, and exploring what can be seen in small spaces over time.  Hope you will come along for the walk with Ruby and me.