Thursday, March 22, 2012

From a Different Angle

Light on the Water
Light on the Water

I took Kat Sloma's "journey" courses to help me find my eye.  They really helped.  You could totally take your own journey and find your eye like I did-just check in with her site.

I did find my eye; in fact I have two eyes-about a third the way down my face.  Imagine that.
I think this is the kind of comment that normally brings the response "Susan; nobody likes a smart ass".
I think when people say that, it means they really do though.  Or I could just be in denial.

And now I've drawn poor Kat into my ridiculous train of thought.  Sorry Kat.  But I mention her (with sincere respect) due to a lesson from "the journey" that I've come back to a number of times: 
Choose an image-one that jumps off the page at you and start writing. 
You can go now if you want....I'll take no offense.

Orange Pants
Orange Pants

I shoot a lot of lobster boat photos.  Honestly, I'm not all that enamored of them, but get close to the ocean-in most any harbor here in Maine, and they're there.  Many are there year 'round too, while the sailboats, tourist "whale watching" or "puffin spotter" party boats, and mammoth yachts are hauled, covered, or tucked away 'til warm months arrive.

Surrounded by rippling waters, sun covered, with reflections, or a touch of that rustic-shabby paint or with scrungy lines-they rather ask to be "taken".  I think there's a sense of quaintness, romance perhaps, in seeing that familiar shape moored.

But they're not quaint at all.  They in smell-badly.  They're grungy.  They're soiled and smeared with fish guts, slops of dried seaweed, oil drippings, salt water stains, scrapes and gouges, and with ratty rusting traps and lines piled at stern.  Quite frankly, they're yucky when you get up close. 

In summer the docks are full of the high paying pleasure boats.  The lobstermen row out in little dinghies to their moored boats.  Off-season the marinas pick up extra money having the working boats tie up.  I suppose it is harsh on the lobstermen to row in winter-with icy, crusted hands wrapped painfully around the oars.  Avoiding that is a win-win.

When I was mucking around the docks last week, I was able to get right up to this boat.  I was taking pretty reflection shots of boats and buildings, but this shot of the inside of the boat was a "have to" shot.  A reminder that a lobsterman's life is not at all romantic-it is physically hard work, in conditions that send me to the couch with hot coffee and that snuggie my father gave me for Christmas. (I had to use was a gift.)

The orange pants caught me, shining in the sun.  Overalls really.  Lined lightly with sweatshirt material inside and rubbery on the exterior-to repel water.  It's the practical "uniform" of the trade.  Later when I came home and really looked at the photo-other things struck me....the hammer poking from a tool box, the simplicity of the helm, the stained salt caked windows, the rescue ring-as if when one's leg gets wrapped in a line attached to a heavy trap headed into 40 ft of cold water that it would help.  Lobster boats are sometimes found with no captain going round and round in circles-a sign no one wants to see.  A sign of the worst.

I don't look at this post and think "down" thoughts.  These thoughts are not  meant to be "Debbie Downers"....I guess I was just reminding myself of the reality; what I see when shooting a quaint shot like the one at the top.  I know the story behind it.  One that may be overlooked by others.  My uncle was a lobsterman for many of my childhood years.  I saw the hard work and meager paychecks.  I didn't see the romance or quaintness. 

So did I find my eye in that lobster boat?  Nah.  Maybe just a touch of me and my roots.  But I don't have any of those orange pants.  Remember?  Snuggie.  Today however, is sunny and the life of a lobsterman would be pretty wonderful-out on the water, in the sun.  Two sides to every story, but I'm sure the boat still smells badly.

If you've made it to the end of these thoughts.  Thanks.  Always nice to be heard, no matter where my mind is traveling off too.  Hope you have a fabulous day.  


martinealison said...

Une très jolie publication... Gros bisous à vous

Wayne (Woody), whatever said...

I wasn't thinking 'down' as I read this, not at all.

I like the way the overalls pop - jumping out at you, screaming for attention, preferably from the 'comfort' of the deck and not the icy-cold waters.

Tezzie said...

I liked reading where your thoughts took you from the orange pants photo. Of course, photography is wonderful because a single image can mean so many things to different people, but it's always interesting to find out what the photographer sees <3 Beautiful work! (and, if I lived where you are, I think I'd be shooting a lot of lobster boats, too...they're like the equivalent of the hay barns that I'm continually drawn to shoot here where I live...'course, the barns aren't as stinky, though! ;D)

Kathryn Dyche Dechairo said...

I love where you went with this post, all too often we just take a fleeting look at an image without really considering the story it tells. Love the reality you describe.

Carol Blackburn said...

What no lobsters for dinner????
I do love the shot with the orange pants. Enjoy the sun and surf.

Linda said...

The amazing, scary thing is that when your mind wanders here and there, I seem to be able to follow you! Glad you found your eyes...both of them!

Gilly said...

I've no doubt it was a really hard life, but I expect it had its compensations too. I just went to a canal boat museum and their lives were pretty tough, working long hard days with their whole family living in a tiny cabin only eight feet long. Must have been miserable at times. But I also thought that I'd prefer it to the alternative - working in the factories. At least on the water you're in charge of your own life, there's a strong community to support you, and you're out in the fresh air. There's a romance about boats and the sea, even though as you say the reality is not quaint or pretty and is actually quite grungy. But still, there's something that draws people to it. I watched a programme about trawlermen on TV a while back, and it was obvious it wasn't an easy life, but they seemed so cheerful - I don't think any of them would have swapped it for something shore-based. Maybe the idea appeals to me because I've never been able to stand having a conventional job for long; I always rebel. I also used to think I'd like to do something like sail round the world single-handed; fortunately I came to my senses on that one - have you heard how big those waves can get in the middle of the ocean???

As always, I love the way your mind wanders around; nice picture too.

Leanne said...

Nice reflections on the life of a lobsterman and those very fashionable orange overalls.

Kat Sloma said...

Such a great post Susan, I appreciate hearing your thoughts and bringing us to the reality of the life of a lobsterman. All the hard work and the risks that they take every day in their job, reflected in the still image you captured of the overalls. We can choose to frame the world around us as only beautiful or choose to frame it as real, with the grunge and the hard work included. You've done both beautifully here.

Anita Johnson said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks out loud...and I enjoy hearing the thought process of others. Blogging has been interesting, sometimes I post a picture and the responses are totally not what I had thought they would be...what I thought I had captured was not what others see. I find that so interesting. I'm not sure I have found my eye, or at least it changes all the time.We went to Maine on our honeymoon, would love to go back with a good camera again...
Thank you so much about your comments on the passing of our companion, Buster. I have tried to be sensitive to folks who have lost human loved ones...I have too, and still Buster leaves a huge hole in our lives. I can really say my heart aches for him. I so appreciate the time and thought that went into your comment. Thank you,Susan.

James said...

Regardless of reality it's still a romantic image. I can close my eyes and hear the seagulls and smell the ocean air. Oh I can also hear the waves lapping the side of the boat. :)

Nadege, said...

I love the orange pants.

Susan said...

The lobster boat thoughts reminded me of life on the farm. My city raised friend loved pigs, thought they were so pretty... until we happened to drive past a hog farm and the wind was blowing just so. She was shocked to discover the disgusting smell was coming from the cute little piggies.

Linda said...

I really enjoyed your post and the pictures. It is very different world from my city in the middle of the prairies.

Brenda said...

As always, I so enjoy your writing - you express yourself with such openness and honesty. And I liked this story of how things which on the surface appear to be simply beautiful are really so much more. And your image is so effective at illustrating your theme. What amazing light - making that orange glow and catch fire. Amazing details.