Gaps of life

The 'Mind', behind the 'Eye' that was looking through the viewfinder made me perceive the scene way I did.

A busy evening on Market street in San Franciso.
A busy evening on Market street in San Franciso.

I love this photograph. Just the feel associated with it.

If you are interested in behind the scene descriptions, here it goes.

I was ambling aimlessly through the busy streets of San Francisco with a camera in hand, but no spark in my mind. It was a busy street, rush hour scene during a typical weekday. Uninspiring. Just then this happened.

I saw this frame and stopped. The scene was not too obvious, neither was it convenient. A crowded walkway, shoulder-to-shoulder. Not a place really to stop and reflect. I still tried. The Sun had almost set completely. However, the amber of street light had not yet taken its full effect, and the daylight was trying it’s best to keep the scene illuminated, and probably also my hopes of making this photo.

The light was fading fast and I had no tripod, hence I tried using a fire hydrant to stabilize my shot. But the fire hydrant and the store were not aligned and the oblique view really cut through the frame. Next, I tried the hand rails on the bus stop and with a bit adjustment I managed to make it work.

Slow shutter was of the essence considering the fading light. I had to stop, adjust, frame and stabilized the camera using available support. It was a slow process. I had time to think and observe. I could see people passing in a blur. Nothing significant to note – tired faces returning home – uninspiring. The neon lights of the Gap store across the street just starting to take effect, but not too bright to be an eye candy against the still setting Sun. The entire scene appeared to be struggling to make any impact. The dullness of the lighting and the moment heavily underscored the lack of spark in the scene, probably our urban lives, and my mind.

Now, coming back to the shot itself.

I love this shot probably because it happened when I was dull, bored, uninspired and unhopeful about making any worthwhile image that evening. And then this frame perfectly portrays how my eye behind the camera saw it. More aptly, I would rather say how the brain behind the eye made the eye perceive it as it did.

People making a beeline for the BART (train) station nearby. Trying to get home, grab a bite and crash before the rigmarole of next day struck them hard. People — wrapped in their own little bubbles, like I was in mine — rushing through the moments in time. Probably uninspired and unenthusiastic. Life, happening in a rush, in a blur with gaps left unfilled and unattended.

Looking back on this frame, I can reflect and say that probably the world was not in such a sombre mood then. It might have been me. The world might have been joyous and energetic and it might have been only my eyes that failed to feel the vibrance and liveliness that embellished the busy street. It was the viewer, not the presenter.

This perspective only epitomizes the fact that the ‘Mind’, behind the ‘Eye’ that was looking through the viewfinder made it perceive the way it did.

Optical delusion? Perceived vs objective reality? Solipsism? Call it what you may as I don’t know for sure. And, if you made it through the ramble of my amble so far, you can let me know about your perceptions on this.

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