宾州雪雁行

宾州雪雁行
作者:李昕

snow-geese

早春二月,New England还是冰雪覆盖,不见一丝春意,北美雪雁大迁徙却已然悄悄开始了。我们也打点行装,趁着夜色,冒着丝丝细雨,南下宾州,赴Middle Creek自然保护区,约会美丽典雅的北美雪雁,那会是怎样的一个期待呢?

我们一行五人,路上自然是欢声笑语,妙语迭出,没走出多久,已然有多条“经典语录”了。到达Middle Creek时,已近中午时分。来到Middle Creek Reservoir,一看望去,白茫茫一片,喧声鼎沸。今年冬寒,大部分湖面还未解冻,数万只雪雁便齐刷刷地挤在一块狭小的水面上,但水面实在太小,有相当多的雪雁只好伫立在冰雪之上了。今天的雪雁格外活跃,不时腾起,旋风般飞舞盘旋,这时,你不仅能感受到雁在飞、风在吹,更能听到雪雁的鸣叫和咔嚓咔嚓的快门声。

雪雁迁徙,哺育后代,它们中途在Middle Creek停留,是因为这里有广阔的田野和水面,为它们提供安全的栖息觅食之地。晚上它们在水面歇息,因为这里安全、少有天敌,白天便四处觅食,补充能量。停留一两周后再继续北上,年复一年。

我们离开水区,来到了一片田野,那本是收获玉米后留下的桔梗,金灿灿的黄,此刻,雪雁陆陆续续像雪片般落在了眼前,田野被渐渐地染成为白,犹如雪后的原野,雪落在地上便静然无声了,但雪雁绝不愿,他们叫着跑着,时而觅食,时而飞翔,落下时高昂着头,环着羽翼,被阳光透射着,像舞女摆动的裙,优雅轻盈。

当田野就要被雪雁渐渐填满时,忽然,雪雁从一隅开始喧嚣起来,众多雪雁随之和应,当信息传遍各个角落时,数万只雪雁忽地腾起,呼啦啦掠过眼前,向湖面飞去,暴风雪般从原野涌向山脚,又从一个山脚旋向另一个山脚,反反复复往来盘旋着,最后落在了湖面上。你能感到一股风在眼前流过,让我想起密儿湖游来荡去的白色小精灵。这时,高空中又一队南来的雪雁飞来,阳光映着,衬着蓝天,闪着光芒,像碧空里的星星,又像池塘里的蝌蚪。雪雁不时变换着队形,白云也和着、变化着,时而像棉絮锦缎,时而又“黄河之水天上来,奔腾到海不复回”。

当这边的雪雁在沸沸扬扬地喧嚣着,腾起落下,似雪如蜂,转身看,这边却是岁月静好,金黄的田园,挽着云,衬着天,独树一枝,如诗如画。当满月悄悄升起悬在半空时,便又是一幅“雁字回时,月满枝头”的画卷了。

当夜幕降临时,雪雁返回了湖面,我们也该回Motel补充能量了。

第二天清晨,当我们返回湖畔时,那一轮满月刚好落下西山,而往东望去,霞光映红了天边,雪雁密密麻麻地浮在湖面上,让本应寂静的湖面沸沸扬扬,像夏日河塘里的蛙鸣,我们因是慕着名寻着声赶来,也便不觉烦躁,反是激动。身边众多的摄影爱好者,都神情专注,没有言语,快门声像是雁鸣的和弦,与自然巧妙地和谐在一起。

到了告别雪雁的时刻,还没有离开湖区,我们便又开始幻想着明年的约会了……

https://www.flickr.com/photos/lixinletterbox/sets/72157643112255583/

Take a Closer Look

Talk: Art of Composing
Talk: Art of Composing

“Have you ever seen people in museums looking at a picture like this?” Mary Sherman started her lecture to a group of amateur photographers in BCPA with a question. To make sure everyone followed what her ‘this’ meant, she went up to the blackboard, drew a rectangle, then placed her face less than 3 inches from it and slowly moved her head along the sides. For half a minute or so I heard absolute silence from the audience with, perhaps, few occasional giggles. Yes indeed I have as I recalled, but I had thought the person did so must have had a really bad eyesight – that was many years ago in the Art Institute of Chicago. But no, as she moved away from the board and explained. People were looking for (and look at) what connected different elements in a picture. It more or less could be thought of as the flow, or chi (氣) in Chinese Taoism philosophy, that’d be linked by colors, lines, shapes, textures and values in a pictorial artwork.

Ms. Sherman is a fine artist, the founder and curator and director of TransCultural Exchange. She teaches 2-Dimensional design objects in BU, BC and Northeastern University. Ever so often she lectures to various groups and organizations. Last Sunday she was invited by the Boston Chinese Photography Association to give a talk entitled “Art of Composing -Think Before You Shoot”. It was an eye-opening lesson to many. I for one had never thought a closer look (yes literally put oneself 3 inches away from a picture) at some elements and follow them around would lead me to the inner flow of the artwork, or to an “Eh, that’s not working out.” “You must look at these elements as what they are,” explained Ms. Sherman, without any emotional attachment. Color grey, for example, is it light or translucent or opaque, but not depressing, sad, or death. Lines, are they straight, curved, connected, but not stunting, mellow, or happy. It is only to the very end do you reflect what content the elements are put together for.

To further demonstrate the ideas and technique, Ms. Sherman put the audience in an exercise. She divided the attendants in small groups, and each group was given a picture to look at. My group had “Land of Lincoln”, a contemporary painting by Roger Brown. We looked at the basic elements and then objects that were presented by the artist in a semi abstract fashion – straight lines, rectangle shapes, unusual green and red colors, and then tall distorted buildings stretching to red cloud like objects, complex street webs, roof tops, people standing by windows and on streets with their shadows pointing to different directions, etc. There was so much to see in a picture, yet the more you looked at it the more you’d discover until finally, perhaps and only perhaps, you might come to realization what message the artist intended to convey. In a liberal and modern society, people become self-centered, isolated and disconnected. There is more modernism than humanism in the society we live, a society that’s ideologically free yet distorted out of shape within.

At the request of BCPA, Ms. Sherman led the discussion to critics for selected photographs taken by the members. Using the knowledge we just learned, some of the ‘nice shots’ showed their weaknesses, and some of the ‘good shots’ we now could reason why. There were of course always a few that not everyone could see eye-to-eye. That would be the beauty of artistry. For one person something that’s beautiful can be not-so-beautiful or even ugly to others. But one has to learn how to appreciate. We’ll start with the 5 formal elements: color, line, shape, texture and value. So next time you are in MFA, and see a person who places his eyes a few inches away from a picture and moves his head around, that would be Daryl, Mingwei, or myself. And perhaps I’ll see you do the same there.

(Maurice Chi April 8, 2014)