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An Obsession With Shadows

Gary Miller

(click image to advance to next one) OK, it's Tuesday mid-day, and I am still obsessing about the bridge jump photos I shot in Waitsfield, Vermont on Saturday. When I pulled out my trusty iPhone, I just wanted to test out the rapid-fire feature to capture guys jumping off the bridge. The phone did a great job of that, capturing probably a dozen crisp photos during each jumper's thirty-foot or so descent. But it's only when I looked at the photos later that I began to obsess about them.

If you click your way through the gallery above, you can see why. It's not the jump itself that interests me, but the stunningly beautiful shadows the jumpers cast on the wall of the bridge. At first, the simple beauty of those shadows interested me. But then I began to dig deeper in a metaphorical way.

After a bit, I realized something critical about those shadows: if the camera had not caught them, I would not have seen them at all. The naked eye is a lens, but it's connected to a filter called the brain, which constantly focuses on what it perceives to be the most important data. My brain told me the jumper was the most important thing, and filtered out the shadows altogether.

The more I though about this, the more I realized that one of the duties of art (and perhaps the main duty) is to filter out the obvious, most important thing, and to focus on what usually goes unnoticed. We all can see and understand the obvious, the clearly-delineated black and white of our existence. But it's the beautiful shadows that an artist brings to the fore, to share with us all.