Thursday, September 1, 2011
A Digression: Evening in Hernandez, by Ansel Adams
I love photography. It is a poem, as opposed to film, which is a novel. In his "Treatise on Painting" Leonardo Da Vinci wrote that painting (also a photograph), is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen. I couldn't agree more. So one of my tasks as a writer is to convey the emotion in a scene, by selecting the significant detail and capturing the emotion of a scene just right. So here is my attempt at capturing the emotion of the scene as depicted by Ansel Adams in his famous photograph "Evening in Hernandez."
We reach Hernandez from the South, through a savanna of mostly spindly sage that looks from highway 84 like a herd of buffalo lying dead on their sides. Dominated by a Spanish styled stucco church on the left, a flat roof, flat windowless walls, Hernandez is a clutch of buildings host to nothing more than a graveyard, whose white tombstones jut out of the hard land like jagged teeth. Circumscribed by trees of a limited variety, mostly pinyons, their crowns exploding (even in the falling light of late evening) in a dazzling display of avocado green, mimicking the shades and hues of the mountains in the distance. Between the town and the mountains lies a vast expanse of earth where nothing but the desert grows, undulating swells sloping up to reach escarpments where ascension reigns to form serrated ridges with topped peaks all swathed in white. A double shelf of clouds rises from the horizon’s edge like the wings of a giant angel. And above it all, above the mountains and the vast plain of nothing, above the town and its silent graves, lurks the full moon--a silver eye watchful of everything that doesn’t happen in Hernandez, mindful of things that never were. And above the moon the dome of gaping sky, starless black and frightful, like the mouth of God.