Saturday, November 10, 2018

Seeing Black

Had I lived thirty thousand years ago, my palette for an artistic endeavor might have included a red, an ochre, and a common charcoal black.  Start a fire.  Have black.  Draw.  

When I came across a large pile of burned wood in the Blue Mountains in Oregon at the end of October, you would have thought I might have grabbed a few chunks of the gleaming charcoal; instead I grabbed the photo above – delighted with the optics of the furrowed black surfaces. 

Back home, with charcoal on my mind, I noticed the wall of a neighbor's outside fireplace with its dark, charred surface acting as the backdrop for fall leaves. 

 Likewise, black asphalt in Joseph, Oregon. 

When I look back through my photos, I am surprised how often black has some bit part to play in the overall images. 
A spider web with dew and one black rock.
A root against black-speckled granite and a wet chunk of basalt.
A highway railing and smoke stacks against a dawn sky.
Black has always been a favorite color of mine.  I own four long-sleeve black shirts and three shortsleeved ones for summer.  Maybe that is why an antique, black refrigerator and the black-striped asbestos siding in the photo below attracted my attention.  

Even my car is black.  Henry Ford, a pious Protestant, insisted that his early cars be offered only in black – a properly severe and humble color.  I don't think of my black Subaru as being particularly inspired by my religious practice, but it does cheer my soul.    

On the road, I recently noticed a long line of train cars - some of them black - and couldn't resist taking a photo.  What pleased me was being able to see the same train from two perspectives at once.  I was riding in a friend's car, which was a bright dark blue, so to emphasize the contrasts in the photo, I turned the image into black and white.    

Dogs see in black and white and shades of gray.  I envy them a tiny bit.  What if we could see like a dog in black-and-white and then, at will, see color again.  We could call it "seeing black".  Better really than "seeing red".  Right?