04 December 2006

Mystery photos

When I was growing up, the local weekly newspaper, The Berkshire Sampler, ran a mystery photo column. You'd try to guess what it was, and they'd announce the winner in the following issue. I always loved those, and am still drawn to that sort of close up photography where it's hard to identify the subject, but the photo is still interesting even if you don't know what it's of. From my memories of that fun challenge, I later developed the game of "mystery photo" which I recently introduced to the children (ages 9 and 11) of some friends of mine, as a way of teaching them about photography. We would take turns going around the house (while the others hid their eyes to the count of 100) and finding something to make a mystery photo of. Then the others would have to try to identify the subject of the photo.

I took this photo last night at the Regent College Christmas party. I'm not going to make you spend too long guessing what it is. It's a punch bowl, before it was filled with punch. It was taken with flash, f/4, 1/60 sec, ISO 400. The relatively narrow depth of field allowed me to focus on just the inside of the bowl and the ladle, giving a sort of mysterious haze to the near and far edges of the bowl. The flash gives all kinds of interesting highlights and sparkles on the glass and the silver ladle.

I love the shape of the bowl, how it takes hold of your eye and rolls it around centrifugally bringing it back again and again to the center at the bottom of the bowl, as a marble rolling around inside the bowl might do. I also like the way the wine colored tablecloth shows through the crystal. This is the kind of photograph that I could gaze at for a long time, almost mesmerized. It has deeper implications as well. It is somewhat reminiscent of a goblet, and the wine color together with that cannot but remind me of the cup of communion. The fact that it's a punch bowl at a party in a community I love also calls up warm thoughts of friendship, hospitality, good food/drink, celebration, and Christmas. Finally, it is an appropriate symbol of the mystery of Christ's advent: a womb-shaped bowl waiting expectantly to be filled with its liquid. Talk about Space For God!


Iambic Admonit said...

Wow, that's fantastic! Both the photo & your very integrative words about it. I hope you do some mystery photos sometime where you leave us in suspense for a while, trying to guess in comments. It would be fun.

Rosie Perera said...

Great idea! I'll do it.


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