Ideas Like Rabbits
According to John Steinbeck, quoted in the Economist, “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” Steinbeck was talking about writing, while the Economist article discussed the concept in relation to technological advances building on each other. I believe it applies equally well to other creative endeavors.
Once you start thinking a certain way – looking at colors, shapes and light – you learn to see it and handle it everywhere, from interior design, to food on a plate, to gardening, to a new painting. It seems I can’t look at road signs without counting colors and shapes, or serve food without considering its visual appeal. I am forever “continously improving” our home decor. I insist on nine months with successive waves of color and shapes in the yard.
Therefore, it should be no surprise that almost every photo I take gets appraised for its potential as a painting. Compositions get cropped, multiple photos serve as references, colors get pumped up, and details disappear to bring attention to the main idea, whatever it might be.
That is what happened in this night scene of the Chicago River. At first i was too detailed, dutifully adding the bridge in the background, trying to make the “corncob” building recognizable, and toying with traffic light reflections. Then I decided it was about the magic. After all, it’s a painting; I already have a photo. So I went with the moodiness instead, using a limited palette and fewer details, focusing on the lights and reflections that had awed me.