The statement came from over my shoulder by my passing wife. I was sitting at my computer processing the photo below.
About a half an hour later I summoned her audience to look at a series of photos I had taken a few months prior. This same photo below was the first one that came up. She sat and looked at it for a few moments apparently recognizing it from earlier.
“Where are the photos you want me to look at?” she said glancing up at me.
Slightly caught off guard by her question I hesitated and pointed to the monitor. “These are the photos.” I responded with my eyebrows raised.
“You took these? When?” she said rather surprised turning back to the computer.
“One foggy morning . . . (pause) . . . a couple of months ago . . . (long pause) . . . in Schiller Park.” I further explained. Schiller Park is our neighborhood park just two blocks from our house.
“This is Schiller Park??” she blurted. “Huh. I suppose I didn’t recognize it. I just thought – when could you have traveled to this place and me not knowing.” She still seemed to be trying to connect all of the dots in her head.
I was just as surprised at the confusion surrounding the apparently simple communication exchange as she was. I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned in this. Perception is a very delicate thing. Looking at the photo again, and reflecting on that damp morning in the park, the photo represents precisely how I remember it. However, at the time, Schiller didn’t seem out of the ordinary or somehow transformed into the exotic dreamy sort of state that may come across in the photo. But why are Amanda’s perception and mine so drastically different?
Because the park is so familiar to me I was able to bridge the gap between my normal every-day perception and the foggy sunrise condition at the time the photo was taken. To me it was the same old park with only a change in weather. When I opened the file at home, even months later, I still saw Schiller Park first.
However, the camera was able to accomplish just the opposite for someone else. Amanda wasn’t with me the morning the photo was taken. She was still in bed or reading the Saturday Dispatch and sipping her espresso blend. Because she didn’t have the same context that I did she didn’t immediately identify the location no matter how familiar. Instead her eye scanned the photo grabbing impressions from that quickly fleeting moment. Consciously or not she first experienced the weather, the fog, the soft diffused light, a bridge, water and trees. She was given a great opportunity. The ability to experience the romance of a snapshot in time with her right brain instead of burdening her left brain to identify a familiar location upon first glance. Thus her experience of the very same image was greatly different from mine.
To me it goes to show that no familiar place is too ordinary. So long as we capture moments with a unique perspective nothing will be taken for granted.