Photography, it is said, tells painting what it should not, what it cannot, do.
This photo was taken shortly after sunrise on a lakeshore in northern Minnesota. On the shore that is implied to the left there was a fiery orange streak in the water rolling ashore, an accident of the sun’s angle and the absence of fog. Equally on the side of the lake to the west (the right) the fog was thick and the lake glass like.
The reflection of the boat, this perfect reflection, seemed more a painting than a true life image. And in fact this is not what my eye saw. What I saw as I turned and set up to take the picture was grey fog and green reeds and two boats at rest under the lightening morning sky to the west. It all suggested a good day of fishing ahead. What the camera saw is what you see here: probably, certainly, an accident of white balance and angles.
But here is the thing about what is and what can be. The camera saw what I, unconsciously, wanted to see, because it felt that way: a painting by Winslow Homer, a Matisse blue, a quiet, surreal mindscape where all was possible, where everything was in its proper place; a homage to childhood’s memory of a place occupied by happy elephants and talking monkeys, a place long gone but apparently still with me.
Minnesota Sunrise © 2010 Michael Lebowitz, Long Run Picture Company