Mystery Photo Explained – Picture to Ponder – v6-issue 21

by Sheila Finkelstein on May 26, 2010

trumpet flower - past prime

Today’s Photo – I invite you to simply “be” with it, not even attempting to “figure it out.”

It has such a rich and different feel to it that I presented it without explanation in the weekly, emailed Picture to Ponder. The discussion and more photos follow here on the blog.

Background –
A friend of mine had such fun guessing at what the image is, I thought I would revert to my original intention when I first started publishing. In the introduction to Issue 1, Dec. 9, 2004, I stated:

“Several years ago someone I admire saw several groupings of photos that I had recently taken. She was quite moved and stated, ‘Sheila, the world needs to see your relationship to art and nature.’

After several minutes of further viewing, she said, ‘I don’t know where this is coming from, but something is telling me to tell you, ‘Don’t talk!’

And I, who always had a lot to say, understood. For me, to ‘talk’ puts something between you and the picture, possibly altering your response, certainly depriving you of the opportunity of discovering your own pure, initial response.”

Today’s Photo Story –
This past weekend I was on my way out of a home where I interviewed a couple for a new neighbor article.  As I was leaving, I noted the following “expired” Trumpet Flowers, clinging to the sides of a glass bowl/vase.

I started past it, telling Mayte, the woman I interviewed, about  my “mantra”, “If you see something that catches your eye, photograph it and then decide if it means anything.” All the while, I had no intention of photographing it.  I was simply suggesting that she do it.  Then I realized it had “caught MY eye”, so I took my own advice. The ever-ready camera came out and I started photographing, first the vase, then focusing in on individual flowers.  The top photo is a close-up of one of the flowers. Below is a second.

(Note – Check Monday’s post below, for a demonstration of another of my “tips”, “When in a funk take you camera out and photograph whatever catches your eye.” The change in “literal” focus, spills over resulting in focus shifts in what is transpiring in your world.)

Self-Reflecting Queries
Today, I invite you to explore your response to one photo only in Picture to Ponder today with no description.

Were you able to simply be with it? Did you have a response to the colors? The textures? If so, was it in your mind or was it more visceral?

Did you need to know what the image is? Was there impatience, frustration, anger, or annoyance at not having an immediate answer? Curiosity?

Will you/did you go to the Web to check it out? How was this for you?

Finally, pondering the responses and emotions you might have experienced, I invite you to look into your life to find the areas, or times, when you might have similar reactions. How do you handle them? Might reflecting on this in the future, support you in different resolutions?

Far more questions than usual and please do find a way to have fun with them. Also, please post your responses in the COMMENTS section below.

For Those Unfamiliar with Trumpet Flowers – The following combo shows a Trumpet Flower bud and a close-up of the inside of another, taken at Tropic Plants.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Mandy May 27, 2010 at 2:58 am

Hi Sheila. Wow! once again you manage to hit the nail on the head with your self reflection questions. ‘Yes, of course I can cope with the mystery, and just let it be’ I said. But of course, I couldn’t! I love solving puzzles, so once I’d decided it was an expiring flower, and having appreciated the velvety feeling from the front section, and spotted the elephants face at the back, I had to go to the blog to see if I was right. I rarely, if ever, come to the blog.
Then of course I realise that the reason today’s questions got to me is because that is exactly where I am in life at the moment. I work for a section of central government in the UK, and following the recent election, we are in a state of flux due to a change of political party, a new manifesto and budget cuts, oh, lots of budget cuts. Will our department remain or will it be cut? will I have a job or be made redundant? will the projects I’m working on go ahead or will they be scrapped? I don’t know, no one knows – we’ll just have to wait and see – but now I realise why I’m feeling edgy, a bit uncomfortable. It isn’t the uncertainty so much, I can cope with change, I just don’t like not being in control of it, I will have no say on the outcome. I have my theories, like most people, and have speculated on the political decisions that will be made, and, having solved the puzzle in my own mind, I’m impatient now to find out the answer.
Thank you


Sheila Finkelstein May 27, 2010 at 6:31 am

Mandy, thank you so much for your thoughtful response. The first part brought an initial smile to my face. And, then, of course, I got to the part that relates to your immediate circumstances. I “feel” for you and wish you the best no matter what the specific outcome is in relation to your job.

As I explore my “theories”, I’m wondering if using a camera any time you feel “out of control” would make a difference for you. A former participant in one of my Through and From the Lens courses commented that after the course she found anytime she got upset, or needed a break, at work, she would take out her camera and spend 5 or 10 minutes photographing… paper clips, waste basket, whatever caught her eye. Simply some thoughts.

Back to photo number one above – Ironically, for me who sees “faces” in almost everything, as you are undoubtedly aware as a subscriber to Picture to Ponder. In the case of this photo, I never even saw the “eye” and the “elephant”, until my friend pointed it out.

Again, may whatever to outcome be of your current job situation, may it lead to all good things for you.


Susan Fleming May 27, 2010 at 3:33 am

I love your “mantra!” I think it breaks the left-brain cycle of analysis paralysis, and gets us into the right-brain mode which transcends logic and discouragement.

I wonder how many people enjoyed a silent sense of satisfaction, though, at having gotten it “right” when they saw the full post… My left side is obviously dominant!

I’ll bet the first picture would make a dynamite Photoshop texture and/or brush! Love it!


Sheila Finkelstein May 27, 2010 at 6:40 am

Hi Susan,

Thanks so much for your thoughtful and enthusiastic response to today’s Picture to Ponder. I clicked on your name link and saw some of your beautiful close-up photos.

And, if “Lakeland” is the Florida one, with that, the photos and PA it looks like we have a lot in common 🙂 (I’m originally from Phila.)

Interesting, also, your thought on Photoshop. I use Elements… only for basics – resizing, “fixing” and the like – and have never gotten into brushes.


Rose Gardener May 27, 2010 at 5:25 am

My gut reaction upon first seeing the decaying petals was acceptance of the cycle of life and an awareness of the residual beauty in aging if we choose to see it.
The glass vase picture had an even deeper impact, representing the transitory nature of a lifetime in its transparency and the idea that a graceful ghost remains in the memory after the death of a loved one.
Thank you for sharing your pictures.


Sheila Finkelstein May 27, 2010 at 6:52 am

Rose, what an interesting, thoughtful and profound response. Thank you for sharing it.

Interestingly for me, the thing that first “grabbed” me was the way the flowers were “clinging” to the glass and maybe they were simply “merged” with it. I wasn’t even really interested in photographing the flowers themselves. And, of course, once I started, I wanted it “all”

In terms of your comments on accepting the cycles of life and being accepting “of the residual beauty in aging if we choose to see it”, I’m reminded of the “Valentine’s Roses” posts I did in February – I still have one of those roses on a table in my living room.

Thanks again also to Mayte, my new friend and neighbor, who also ees the beauty in aging flowers and keeps them longer than her husband deems necessary.

To the beauty in all stages of life and death. Unintentionally that also became part of what my Banana Sky DVD represents.


Debii May 27, 2010 at 11:12 am

The first pic made me think of fall and the changing seasons – death and then rebirth. I love the angel trumpet pics. Gorgeous.


Sheila Finkelstein May 28, 2010 at 6:53 am

Thanks for sharing your experience here and the acknowledgment. Always appreciated.


Peggy Kemp May 28, 2010 at 12:32 am

Thanks for a very interesting series of photos, which drew me to the blog, where I rarely go. You are a creative and steady blogger, and the emails always make me think, feel, and ponder.

The first one, in the email, was not mysterious and evoked this thought, “What’s up with Sheila and the dead flowers thing again?” I didn’t find it particularly appealing, it looked rather mouldy and sad to me. Once I saw the elephant, I really couldn’t see anything else.

The middle one, with the dried flowers clinging to the empty vase, I thought was so interesting and beautiful. It looked like they had somehow fused into the glass.

The 3rd seems almost painterly, like the watercolors in the botanicals of old, very appealing. I have never seen this particular trumpet flower, the red and white. We have pure white and pale peach here on the island. The naturalized ones are all white.


Sheila Finkelstein May 28, 2010 at 6:49 am

Thanks for the smile, Peggy. I actually think it was you of whom I thought when I considered using number 1, as I featured photo and I had mixed feelings with it. I, thus, sent it to friend. She was so enthralled with it that I decided to go ahead with it.

I mainly saw the textures, wasn’t even thinking about it as a dead flower, and never even saw, as I commented above, the elephant. Given my tendency to find faces, people and, sometimes, animals in totally unrelated images, I found that interesting.

Thanks for coming to the blog for adding your comments here.


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