The Imagery of Words & The Words Pictures Paint

I’ve always felt that great images, whether they are photographs, drawings or paintings, conjure up words in our minds. Be they visual descriptions of subjects we know already and have already at times put to words, or the words we personally use to describe what we see at the moment.

In a similar fashion, well used words can paint pictures that we have seen before, or create new ones that we could never have dreamed of.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Really, one only needs for an image to describe one word to be successful.

Images can be an important reminder of power and equity, and so can words.

Just a few words from the U.S. Constitution which help describe it.

The U.S. Constitution
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

First Amendment
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. 

( as an aside, we also under the right to free speech and religion, all have the right to criticize the speech or religious practices of others)

Second Amendment
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Now let’s look at Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for another celebration of words at their best.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate we can not consecrate we can not hallow, this ground The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

A few bits of Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

This next part is from me.
It’s easy to see with our minds and hearts if not our eyes, the images created by the words you have read above. Powerful, life changing words make for powerful images. With that said, I never dismiss those co-called “lesser words” given us by the wordsmiths that write the lyrics which inspire pictures in our mind of a time or a place.

I’ve never made a secret of the fact that one of my favorite writers of lyrics (and music) was Joni Mitchell. If songs should musically and especially lyrically paint pictures for us, pictures of times, places and feelings or moods, then Joni’s song Woodstock lets us hear, see, and feel what that period of time was all about in America. For better or for worse, we can hear the music and feel the conjoined attitude that existed for those four hundred thousand plus, drug addled but well intentioned hippies that lived in those muddy fields for several days.

We never know when the profound will become meaningless, and the trite will become profound.

This song is far more powerful when accompanied by the music, and the Born Again Christian in me, takes umbrage with some of the carefully worded meanings here, but I defend her right to say it and share it.

I came upon a child of God
He was walking along the road
And I asked him where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm *
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who I am
But you know life is for learning

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation

We are stardust
Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
back to the garden

I wanted to begin our “photos bring up words” section of today’s post with a few images from other photographers, but decide to share first what is personal to me, my own photos.  Really, images bring up thoughts which are a mixture of visual ideas, and then actual words.

When I selected my images today, my selection process was as usual, to find a folder full of old images, and choose whatever met my fancy. 

My first choices for my photos today, were dreamy sorts of landscapes and sunrises/sunsets. Then I found a few abstracts. You know, artsy sorts of things. Then I realized that in many ways animal pictures are a better vehicle for thoughts that produce words, and vise versa. So below, you see some of the first photos that I saw when I opened up a folder of mixed pictures.  What came to mind as I looked at the photos is also shared, but I am betting that some are repeats of what I thought when I was on the scene working as well.

Simon and Garfunkel’s song The Fighter first came to mind when this fly picture jumped out at me. The question defense or offense were the first words that I asked myself. It is likely to be cleaning off its legs but if images bring forth words, well then the first words might mean the most.

I found this domestic Muscovy Duck one morning while out photographing a sunrise. My first thoughts (words) were that he/she likely escaped from a farm. Maybe it will no longer be destined for someone’s dining room table, although a local coyote or fox may disagree, as it clearly had no true long range flight capabilities. It might have also been a pet that somebody either could not or would not keep. My words from my thoughts were initially a relief, and then some anxiety.

The word duty, and the phrase “work ethic” came to mind as I watched and photographed this male Eastern Bluebird return repeatedly to a nesting box to feed its young. Mom was doing the same, and determination, loyalty, and the phrase “a mother’s love” came to mind.

The word noisy and the phrase “strangely marked” were my first thoughts I am sure when I saw and photographed this Common Grackle.  The thoughts that pictures bring us, need not be sentimental or powerful.  Photos are mere substitutes for  “real life” and real life need not be over dramatized. The good, the bad, and the simple and the complex stands on their own.

A pretty bird, some pretty light, and some necessary maintenance brings to mind the thought that if you are to remain pretty, and continue to be functional, a little work needs to be done. This male Northern Shoveler cared not a bit about my presence.  He wanted to remain functional, and by that result, remain pretty. I left him to his chore.

The first thoughts that come to mind when I make a photo of three critters together like this, is Moe, Larry & Curley. The product of a misspent youth I suppose. My mind however wanders on when the subjects are three beautiful American Avocets  “working a pond” in New Mexico. Maybe teamwork but likely togetherness is the word this scene evokes for me.  Side by side, one for all and all for one.

Wet? Miserable? Cute?  This young Eastern Cottontail Rabbit was almost as curious about me as I was about it. It provoked words from me instantaneously.

This Bonaparte’s Gull, needs a little bit of a running start to gain altitude if you will. Thoughts (with words) of airplanes come to my mind as I look at this image of its takeoff. The pose if you will, and the shower of sand falling from its right foot, to me speaks of the dramatic to me.

What a picture says to me, need not be what it says to you.

The best for last. The image below which was created by Mads Peter Iverson and was found in Nature Photography How To. Terror or maybe horror come to my mind, but possibly sanctity, reverence and power as well.

Words produce images and images produce words. Together, they teach us to communicate.

God Bless,

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