I love photography. There are many, many reasons for this and lately I've been thinking a lot about one in particular. What happens when a camera "smooshes" a four-dimensional world of height, width, depth, and time into a two-dimensional image? Height and width, of course, map just fine to a flat surface but what about depth and time? Visual clues such as converging lines, overlapping objects, and changes in size can preserve a sense of depth but time usually just disappears. Sometimes, as in this week's photo, we get to "see" all four dimensions represented.
The day before the annual Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston, I was standing on a bridge over the Charles River, watching the sculling crews pass below me. The sun was setting, the water was sparkling, and I noticed the backlit wake from the boats and the oars. I really liked the patterns and contrast created by the straight lines and the concentric circles. Then it dawned on me that the diverging lines and dissipating circles in this "snapshot" were capturing a visual "echo" of both depth and time. How cool is that?!
Although painters developed techniques centuries ago to create the illusion of depth, the images almost always seem frozen in time. The most notable exceptions (e.g. Marcel Duchamp's marvelous "Nude Descending a Staircase, No.2") were created after "time" started appearing in photographs (e.g. Eadweard Muybridge's ground-breaking "Horse in Motion"). The extraordinary ability to project both 3D space AND time onto a flat surface is definitely one of the many reasons I love photography!