Above is a photo made today of my friend Sheena. My new facebook friend Rob Copeland in NYC has been making some extraordinarily beautiful photographs of reflections in car glass, car hoods and tops that make a curved or distorted reverse image of a building or two or three that are also in the frame. Rob's pictures have a dimension that moves my heart when I see them. Gary Winogrand's images and Joel Meyerowitz's images excite my heart in the same way Rob Copeland's do. I say excite my heart because that's where I feel the sensation when I see a large percentage of his images. Some of them are breath-taking, literally. They cause an inspiration, an in-breath, an inhalation, the sudden intake of air when I feel awe. He puts pictures on facebook every day, a touch that makes my facebook pages all the more fun to look at. Rob has opened a new dimension for me. I see reflections everywhere now. They've always been there and I've always missed them, with some exceptions, the ones that jump in my face. I walk through parking lots looking at the sky and clouds on windshields, trees, signs, wires. In a world of mundane traffic, pavement, brick, cinderblock and glass, the occasional appearance of a reflection on the glass of a car passing in the other lane, the sky and clouds rolling across the glass. It is not exaggeration to say noticing reflections has added a new dimension to my world. I'm not taking a lot of pictures of them. I don't want to seem like I'm copying Rob. I send him a reflection photo I find from time to time calling them "hillbilly reflections," for the fun there is in it.
This is Sheena's man, Gail, with his pickup. I was looking for a way to get his reflection in the glass, but couldn't find it for the mirror, which worked good second best. I started sending Rob what I thought comic reflections, like trash on a dashboard reflected inside the windshield on the highway. Then this picture of Sheena happened. I wasn't thinking it a Sheena portrait at the moment. I saw the reflection and thought of Rob, Sheena walked into the V-slot to put something in the back seat. That she happened to be there when I saw the reflection in the glass made it a million times better. I'd not yet made a photo of Sheena that I think of as a nice portrait of her, how she looks as I know her. I think this is my Sheena portrait. She is seen through the hinged-side opening of the open back door, her brother Justin's four-door pickup. Reflected in the glass is the rigging above the back of the pickup for hauling ladders. It is one of my favorite photographs of all I've made. It was a moment in the new dimension Rob has opened for me. Standing in the same place I snapped the Sheena picture, to the right Gail was talking with his brother on the cell phone. I don't have any pictures of Gail. He was standing beside the truck's glass reflections at a moment I was focused on reflections to send to Rob. I'm happy with this one as my Gail portrait. Gail is my definition of a good man, all the way around. Good hunter, good archer, good people. The same can be said for his brother Ronnie. I'm grateful to God for the good care Gail gives Sheena.
This was the scene on Gail's pickup's back glass. It's a decal of a multi-pointer buck in the middle of the glass. It's another hillbilly reflection I made for Rob's amusement. From cityscape to landscape. The cityscape makes some exquisite reflection photographs. This new dimension I've stepped into has brought in moments of found art that are specific to place, time and point of view. Every time I see a reflection now, it's like a spontaneous piece of art. I'm thinking of reflections I see as, themselves, art. Once noticed, incredibly beautiful art. Since Rob has brought reflections to my visual awareness, I look for them in movies. When I notice a reflection, I also see that the director and the photographer, both, missed a moment of visual opportunity. A moment of just seeing the reflection is a surprise moment of art, and they go as unnoticed as unwanted children. Every time I see a movie, now, I see reflections that could have added a great deal to the visual moment and nobody saw it. Reflections I see in the course of a day give my mundane world of traffic and town some visual surprises. Glass is everywhere in town. I'd never paid attention to the scenes on the windows. I've seen them, but had not appreciated them. Now they are like gems that pop up here and there. They give a bit of zing to my everyday world like anchovies in pizza.
Here is the windshield of Sheena's car parked under a tree. It was the reflection that initially caught my eye. We were on the way to the softball game down the mountain at Austin off of Traphill Road. Justin and Gail were playing. They promised on the way there that they'd scorch the other team, and they did. Justin went in the house, I sat on the tailgate of the truck with camera looking at the clouds and the tops of the trees in relation to each other. I've noticed that the outlines of trees are similar to the outlines of clouds. Both are created by water flow. I was looking for something interesting in the trees in relation to the clouds. Got a couple of pictures that were neither here nor there. Just looking around, seeing what I could see, mostly focused on clouds. It was a beautiful day for clouds. Big floating cotton balls pulled into every kind of configuration. It was a clear day sky with clouds floating across the blue. The trees and clouds were nice, but only for one picture. I sat looking at beautiful fields of goldenrod with late afternoon sun on them. I looked over at Sheena's car under the tree and saw the windshield. I hopped to the ground and made a few pics of the glass. Also got one of the side glass with two contrails in the sky making a white V on blue. By the time you figure out what the white lines are, it's too late. It's a joke that took too long in the telling. By the time you figure it out, it wasn't worth the effort.
It was after seeing the glass on Sheena's car that I went back to where the two pickups were parked. The back door was open on Justin's truck, I saw the image of the ladder rack in the glass, stepped up to get a look at it and Sheena appeared. It was a magic moment. It was the tree on the car windshield that set me off. I was thinking a hillbilly reflection for Rob, a tree on the glass. That was the inspiration. I saw it comic, fun, a kind of in-joke. Then the moment happened with Sheena and it felt like I'd been touched by the Divine fingertip. I thanked Rob in spirit for a fantastic moment, my portrait of Sheena. We all packed into the truck with as big a back seat as a big car, Seth, 7, going with us. At the ball game, Seth had his exercise running to find a foul ball that went over the fence on either side. The homeruns that went over the fence into the woods were hopeless to try to find that late in the day. This is Justin in the picture below, the split-second after he dropped the bat to run for first. It was a base hit. That's Gail heading out from first for second. They truly scorched the other team. 21-6. Sheena and I sat on the aluminum bleacher and talked through the course of the game. Every once in awhile, one of us would ask, Who's ahead? I valued having the time with Sheena, just us, talking about whatever. We've known each other all her life. Both Justin and Gail hit home runs over the fence. We kept an eye on Seth who spent the whole time running. He'll make a good soccer player.
To check out some of Rob's photographs:
just a click away
all photos by tj worthington