A Way of Seeing, Part One

This post is by littlejailbird.

Many years ago, one morning I came across some large spider webs that were covered in dew and were sparkling in the sun. As was my wont, I went crazy taking pictures of this somewhat ordinary thing, that looked beautiful to me. As I was doing this, a friend of mine walked up. He watched me, and when I was finished, he smiled and asked, “What are you taking pictures of?”

I was stunned. How could he not have seen this beautiful thing?

That’s partly why I like taking pictures. Sometimes I notice things that other people don’t see and photography gives me a way to capture some of those things. It’s easy to see the beauty of a sunset, but there are so many other beautiful things to experience if we would just slow down and look. When I first started photography classes this past fall, I had doubts that I could find beautiful things to shoot if I wasn’t up on the North Shore or some such place. However, I have found something about walking around with a camera causes me to notice beautiful things wherever I am, even here in the city.

Click on any of the images to see it in a larger window.

I enjoyed seeing other students’ photography in my classes because often they saw things that I didn’t see, or we saw the same thing, but with different perspectives. Everyone has a different way of seeing and I find delight in seeing what others see.

These photos I share here are some of my old shots, from a long time ago. The spider web shot is the same one mentioned in my story above. I will be sharing some of my more recent shots in another blog post someday.

What do you notice that others don’t see?


73 thoughts on “A Way of Seeing, Part One”

  1. I most often suspectitstheotherwayadound for me
    I am the one not noticing
    I tend to get off into my own little world and hang out there while I’m sitting right next to you
    we are having a conversation I am unaware of and walking past or sitting in the midst of a moment to be remembered but I am caught with a focus on my hangnail or wondering if you added a Lille purple to that shade of blue if the background in that paining wouldn’t look better.
    is oblivious to what I am oblivious to I am afraid
    the absent minded professor gone sideways
    nice photos lab
    very nice
    I look forward to seeing some of your new stuff
    I like to think about the technology that will allow a frame on the wall to be an ever changing slideshow of images I choose to rotate remembering an old piece of technology that could be incorporated to respond to feelings and emotions and match up mood with music selections images to look at books to read etc… what a world of opportunity…. maybe that’s what I se that others don’t… or maybe they do and we just don’t get to talk about it because we are both deep in thought

    Liked by 2 people

    1. wow
      i wont be using that i pad until i get it fugured out. a new screen popped up that has the keyboard covering the typing and in the theme of the moment i am lost and not paying attention to what i am not paying attention to even more than usual.

      nice pictures ljb.
      nice guest blog

      Liked by 4 people

  2. I have trouble keeping up with other people when walking due to my tendency to look at the sights around me. I like to look at houses and front yards, especially the plantings in front yards. When out for a walk in the woods, or some other natural area, I keep my eyes open for bugs, plants, wild life, and other thing from nature. I will speed up to stay with people who are taking a walk to get some exercise, although I probably will fall behind if I see something that catches my attention.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can relate to that, Jim. I think that it must be very boring for anyone to walk with me when I have my camera with me. Especially since I get oblivious to other things – including nearby people – when I’m shooting.


  3. I notice the fear in people’s expressions as they walk about in public. It’s subtle, maybe fear is the wrong word. But there is a wariness, apprehension, self-consciousness that I see in the majority of people, especially younger people, that implies they are afraid to some degree of physical attack (minimal, but there, especially in women), afraid of being approached and/or talked to, afraid of not looking cool or normal, or acceptable, afraid of being judged (one reason so many of us conform to modern fashion styles and trends), afraid of being thought less of in some way. afraid of being alone (which is why I think so many people want/need to belong to a group of at least two. So many people seem unable to navigate society without a friend, lover, or co-worker with whom to make the journey through life.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

    1. How interesting CiO. I don’t see that at all! Maybe because I don’t think I look like that (or am like that), I don’t see it in other people. Would an observant person see that in you?

      Now wait. I went to a gathering of friends the other night and walked in (by myself) and had a pang of not belonging and worrying about my worth and social skills. Perhaps I DID appear as you describe. Hmmm.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. i ewould also guess its different if you are walking into a room full of friends vs walking through the streets of the city or along a path. i am the one who looks to see if there is a way to make eye contact and give a little nod. its about 1 in 50 i would guess but the 1 is likely in my position and looks for people who will make eye contact also.
        i remember a flight attendant who was a personable woman who came up and said hello and then proceeded to have a conversation while looking you straight in the eye. it was so unusual i commented on it and asked her if her mother had looked everyone in the eye and acted as a role model that it was the way it was supposed to be. she siad it was her mother that had taught her the eye contact thing and that she had always had it. it was so easy and amazing and i have seen it so seldom since it remains a memory to draw on in conversations like this

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice photos, ljb.
    When you take a camera out, and especially when you go out with the intent of finding pictures, it does intensify your attention to details. But it also changes your way of seeing. Since the camera feeds on light, sometimes the thing you see is not a thing at all but just the effects of light. The other aspect the camera imposes is framing. By framing, I mean the way it’s composed and cropped, of course. The act of taking a picture is a matter of selecting a field of view and taking it out of context. Sometimes the way a photo is framed becomes the essence of the image, more than any particular object captured. The camera teaches you to see in those terms as well.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Most of these are from slides I shot in the 1970s. I just recently scanned them to make digital images. And, yes, I plan to write a post with some of my newer shots.


  5. I was always the kid looking out the car or school bus window, taking in everything and seeing what everyone else was too busy talking or fighting or whatever to see. Although people seldom noticed (or cared about) such things even then, today the inattention to anything beyond what’s playing in their earbuds or flashing on their tiny smartphone screens is astounding. It used to be that if I was standing staring up into the sky at a sundog or a migrating bald eagle, someone else might at least glance up to see what I was looking at. That doesn’t happen any more. People treat you like you’re invisible if you’re doing anything even slightly out of the ordinary.

    One of my favorite things to watch while I’m waiting for a bus is rain or melt water running to the storm drain, especially when there’s post-winter sand and dirt deposited in the gutter and the water makes little braided channels and sandbars. I don’t know why, but the patterns of running water fascinate me. A few times a year, I also get to see ants swarming in huge numbers, usually in the cracks of the sidewalk–still have to find out if that’s a new colony being formed or what’s behind it. Bumblebees in the flowering weeds along the light rail tracks, crows trying to get just one more bit of bagel into their beaks, hawks perched on the light posts, the intricate pattern oak branches make on the sky, lacy cirrus clouds…so much to enjoy if you just slow down and open your eyes.

    Liked by 8 people

  6. Very nice photos and prose.
    A-one-ur-ful, a-one-ue-ful stuff.
    I used to take pictures like this, not as good though. I have pictures of spiderwebs covered in dew on the grass.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Nicely done, Edith. I have a friend who denigrated photography, calling it a “foolish effort to freeze time.” He later realized how stupid that was.

    Bill has it just right. Photography is a celebration of the act of paying attention, looking for patterns and remarkable images in places most people fail to notice. The act of taking a picture is equivalent to saying “Look at this! This is worth stopping to appreciate.”

    This is all the more remarkable when the subject is common. It takes no photographic eye to see beauty in a mountain wreathed in clouds that is reflected in a perfect lake. But a photo of a birch log decaying on the forest floor (like the one above) reminds us that ordinary things are beautiful for those who have eyes to see.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. For some reason, I feel a draw to take pictures of more ordinary things than spectacular things. I do take pictures of some spectacular scenes, but there’s a particular delight in taking pictures of things that have a beauty that goes unnoticed.


  8. I look down now to ‘notice’ my safe footing…seeing also the beauty of rock underfoot, the moss, wild flowers and ferns…and yes, webs and spiders weaving on the various plants & ferns…
    As a child I looked down…
    fascinated by cracks in the sidewalk as I walked to school…the ant hill between the cracks-ants busily performing whatever ant chores they perform…excited for the first dandelion, watching the graceful daddy long legged spider…noticing fallen bugs-June bugs: yuck!
    I look all around me when I’m still…
    Always have…
    As a youngster…sitting…at my window fascinated by the sight & sound of lightening, in my tree looking into the world, at my secret fort by the river, hiding & pondering all of life including that flowing river….
    As an adult…I’ve always ‘noticed’ and absorbed all around me at any given time…the little & simple as much, if not more than, the grand and the obvious.

    And now I notice up, down and all around…in my little paradise.
    I live in an old cabin on a tiny lake…with the ”corner’ lot of lakeshore. It’s filled with native rock jutting up from the ground and out into the water. I nurture the native reeds, plants, grasses…& transplants.
    I’ve a tiny forest filled with rock, moss, lichen…&…
    I’ve wildflowers…birds…bees…knats…mosquitos…&…
    I have no desire to travel…other than to see my daughter & grandchildren. I have all I want right here…and so very much to notice…to see…all of which gives me great joy and peace.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I’ve recently begun to notice the folks who click on the Like button right below each daily blog. It is interesting to speculate on who those people are and how they relate to this blog. I think of Trail Baboon as a Minnesota thing and am surprised to see how many people who like the blog live in faraway countries. I am impressed with the breadth of a person who can interact with people in a totally different culture.

    If you check out who has “liked” this blog day by day you will notice the lovely photo of a pink rose that is the gravatar for a young man living (I think) in Vietnam. His name is trietnguyen1982. He has a blog site of his own, a site he calls “999 roses in my life.” It is a collection of photos of young Vietnamese women. I’ve enjoyed clicking through it. Some look like models. Most of them look like typical young women. Many are caught checking their cell phones as they relax in a public park. The inescapable conclusion is that he truly loves the look of the young women he sees.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. This wonderful post–wonderful, as in full of wonders, things beyond the normal realm–is hard on me, but I am not complaining. ljb. I sit here thinking of all I used to notice which tells me how much Sandy’s health and my pain issues have limited my life. Just to whine somewhere, and only this once. I am in wracking pain in my whole body. A severe headache, which is about the norm. My lower back and my lower limb muscle masses are trying to decide if they want to cramp or tremor. I am walking all bent forward. Yesterday I was in high pain like this from the time I got up until I went to bed. About 6:30 I became physically ill from it. I have not eaten in 24 hours. I guess I am saying what I notice now is my pain.
    I also notice now the squirrel behavior in the woods above my keyboard. For instance I know the social order and can identify the meaning of some body and tail gestures.
    When I drive across the prairie I notice clouds as subjects of painting and photos. I used to notice the same thing in the landscape but now I have trained myself not notice too much and focus on driving. I love the prairie and see it in a way few people do. Few see it as beauty.
    I used to notice possible photographs, usually to serve as subjects for paintings. I have beside my 2-300 hundreds prints chosen to serve as possible paintings, a fool’s wish. I used to see drawings and paintings everywhere. When I was drawing, I saw such sights in monochrome. When I was doing pastels, I saw such things in daubs of color, blended daubs, I saw points of light.

    This is my typoing without correrction, what pain and ataxia does to my fingers and mind:
    I used to out in public watch rthe relationship between cpoules. I watched all the young people, college poieple we getg in Masnkat from 5 cfollefges in our area.o. I know tjhat the rleationship betweem most suchcouples consisted of a very bosy female and a subservient male, bot looking close to miserBLE. I used to watch older couples for the vision of An Old Loive. Now i do notice the little I am out in public who are older caregivers in the couples. I used to watch parents with their children to idnetfy parenting skillsIt seems theire are two groups: parents who have a quiet and calm relationship with their chidten. Theya rei control. Love shows. The second group are angry parents with brattish kids.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It is painful to read about your pervasive pain, Clyde. I hope you will get occasional bursts of relief today.
      Your unedited paragraph was very legible. I say, if it makes it easier for you not to edit, don’t waste the time. We’ll figure it out.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We’ve had good practice deciphering tim’s comments, so we should be able to handle anything you can throw at us.

        Also, I don’t know if it actually was a typo, or if you did it on purpose, but “typoing” is a perfect word to use in this case (and many other comments here). 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. it is frustrating to have a friend go through pain and not ba able to do anything bout it. i guess it is part of the deal but that doesnt make it any easier. i am amazed what a different perspective i have when i am in pain. i was talking with someone the other day about what a weenie i am. i am never in pain and when i am in pain i do a real poor job of gettng past it. when i think of all the people in pain on a daily basis, serious pain like the stuff you are talking about it makes me feel like a self centered hypocrite. i wish i could do more than wish you relief.


    2. I’m sorry to hear of your constant pain Clyde. I should hope there is SOMETHING to be given you for relief! I have chronic pain with the frustration of arthritis…and perhaps just a body not doing or able to do what my mind would like!? I don’t feel old…I’m not that old…to me…though to my grandchildren I’m certain I look old-my grandparents looked old. I’m wondering why there isn’t some medication you can take. I have a low dose of Hydrocodone to take when having a really ‘cranky’ day or for pain that keeps me from a calm evening or sleep. I am not a fan of prescription drugs, however I am so grateful to have when needed.


    3. I am so sorry to hear of your pain, Clyde. I find it remarkable that you can do and see what you do with all that pain; what I’ve seen in your guest posts and your comments here show that you are attuned to seeing beauty around you. I know that when I am in pain, that I am not able to see beyond it; and yet you seem to be able to do so, at least sometimes. I would think that, for an artistic soul such as yours, that it would be very hard to lose that seeing eye due to physical pain.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Speaking of noticing: I checked out Bill Bryson’s new book from the library. It is a measure of the users of this terrible library that I requested the new book by a popular non-fiction writer and got it in 8 days. I bet I would have to wait a long time in other categories.
    “The Road to Little Dribbling.” A return to his early form, a book ab out wandering around and noticing. A travel book, on the 20th anniversary of his first travel book on England. “Notes from a Small Island.” Very funny. Many observations on change and on aging, hence the title. He has a line in it that goes something like >Why is is that Britain is better off to day than they have ever been but thing they are poor.< Apply that observation to America.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. i love bill bryson. my poet friend is publishing a collection called a history of everything and i warned her about bill brysons title and it was similar but no the same.
      i used to go to pen pals author series and try to go to 1/2 price books (pre amazon) the get their books before they showed up and it surprised me that bill bryson was in so many different catagories of author sections of the book store vs virtually everyone else whose books line up side by side in their area of expertise.


  12. Nice blog, ljb, and I really like your photos. Good eye.

    I suppose most of us pay attention to something more than others. I tend to notice immediately when a plant needs watering. The color of the leaves changes ever so subtly, and it’s time to give the poor thing a drink. Plants could be drooping over the edge of their containers and husband simply wouldn’t see it.

    I also seem to be only one in this household who notices when the litter box needs cleaning, or when dust bunnies are large enough to trip over, and windows are so filthy they barely let in daylight. Sigh!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Nice pictures LJB! Yeah, you have good eye.

    Many years ago when I first started doing lighting I had my head down as walked across the stage. (Let’s say I was deep in thought). To the point I had to put white tape marks on the ground warning me about posts sticking up on stage.
    These days I seem to look up more; I trip over things on the ground more often. There must be a happy medium somewhere, eh?

    Lighting of course. I’m much more attuned to the lighting in a room / photo or show. I’m a terrible audience member at a play; I’m too busy studying the tech stuff.

    When my son played Lacrosse; I tried to pay attention to the game, but then a red car would go up the highway and the crowd would roar — over something or other. I never knew what because I was watching that red car or a bird or who knows what. I always missed the score…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’ve attended one professional ice hockey game in my life back when the local team was the North Stars. Guys whizzing up and down the ice with lightning speed, flailing (probably not the correct technical term) wildly with the hockey sticks in pursuit of a tiny puck. Every so often, a player would violently slam an opponent against the boards, or a fight would break out to the utter delight of the audience. Guess my eyesight wasn’t good enough to keep track of where the puck was, so don’t recall seeing anyone score although I know they did. I failed to see what was apparently obvious to 10,000 hockey fans. What else am I missing? Oh I know! Can’t for the life of me see what’s so appealing to so many people about Donald Trump.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Any animal gets my attention… esp birds and bunnies and any rodent – anything that moves, really. When we’re traveling to a new place I always want to know what other species I’m sharing the space with, look for any animal. On CBS Sunday Morning they always show a nature scene at the end… I am slightly disgusted when the gorgeous scenery involved shows NO ANIMALS.

    I, too, see squirrels over this screen out the window, and I wish I had learned as much from them as Clyde: “For instance I know the social order and can identify the meaning of some body and tail gestures.” To me that would make a great blog post…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. in charles keraults book on the road he talks about izzy is it feinstien who is the cameraman and how he is frustrated izzy is with the animals at the end of the show because he notices they are always going away and noticing the cameras presence. it is pretty funny when you see that the shots are always of birds flying away etc. the sound of the camera is usually enough to ruin the peace

      Liked by 1 person

  15. OT A grey scarf and an Oxo bread knife were left at our house following the book club meeting. If you left these items behind contact me to get them back There were some bottles containing wine that were also left. We will make sure that wine doesn’t go to waste.

    Book by Maya Angelou was selected as one of the next books to read. A link to an interview about a Maya Angelou documentary that I mentioned at the book club is found below.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for the reminder about the knife. cathy brought me my hat i guess i should be grateful i didnt leave my head there. glad its screwed on.
      how could anyone forget their scarf???

      Liked by 1 person

  16. This is a lot less interesting or beautiful than others’ observations but for some [unknown] reason, I always check to see if people are wearing wedding rings (people I meet, guests on talk shows, musicians, etc.)
    I have absolutely no need to know if people are married but I just have to look. Weird!


    1. Me too! And how people walk. But I think that’s from my own foot / leg / walking issues.
      I can’t tell you what their hair looked like but I can tell you about their shoes. (I refrain from asking where they got them…)

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I notice people’s behavior and moods. I notice emotional currents in conversations between other people. It sure gets tiring at times. It would be nice to be oblivious sometimes.

    Beautiful photos, LJB.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Throughout my career, psychological trends have wafted over the country. Long ago, when the self worth trend hit, I saw people with low self esteem everywhere. Then, crisis theory arrived and I saw crises everywhere. A more recent awakening (this one isn’t a national trend) occurred after reading Tolle’s “A New Earth”, which focuses on egos. Now – and I can’t not do this – everywhere I go, every TV news show, every interaction with others, all I see are egos. Afraid I’m stuck with this one, especially when Trump speaks.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. tim is right. It was taken outside…in the winter. By a river.

      The problem with scanning slides from so many years ago is I don’t remember where all these pictures (I had several hundred) were taken. I have a hunch that it’s Cascade River, but I can’t be sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. its nice that you have a life that makes it hard to nail down where it might have been. most folks (me im afraid would look at that and be able to narrow it down to one of two or three occasions in the past when that option to take that photo might have existed


  18. The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means, and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again.
    – William Faulkner

    Liked by 3 people

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