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A sandstone abstract in Death Valley National Park, California.
This is an interesting image for me, and kind of an optical illusion. The photo as you see it is from the orientation in which I was standing as I took the photograph. As I looked toward my feet, the wind and water scoured sandstone scooped up the warm, early morning sunlight. I had originally processed this file with the intention of displaying it upside down, but after running it by my friends I have decided to present it as I had taken it.
It had been a cold night in the desert. The hike from camp to our location and the pitch black scouting before sunrise did little to warm the body. It's an odd feeling to be wearing a coat, gloves and a warm hat and to look towards the horizon to see the heat rising off the desert floor. It's a time of transition and before you know it, you are shedding layers until you are in shorts and a t-shirt basking in the sun.
The reason I wanted to release it upside down was because it felt more abstract. When looking at it that way, my mind struggled to make sense of the photo. It's not tangible to me. It's confusing because the light part of the sandstone seems closer to the camera than the darker parts. I enjoyed the optical illusion aspect. Deep down I found a parallel between the image and some struggles in life. The darkness at the top is holding in and smothering the light. There's tension in that situation. Seeing this image this way gave me a little bit of comfort in the discomfort.
Yet upon rotating the image 180 degrees a new world is opened up. Light floods into the darkness from the top. There's stability. There's sense. There's warmth. There's hope.
Ultimately, it's those aspects of life that I really need to hold dear right now. And just like that warm sunlight piercing the cold and watching the heat on the horizon when I took the photo, I should look for that warmth in the trying times of life and use them as inspiration rather than accepting and getting used to the discomfort. It's all the same photo, it just depends on how we are looking at it. Photo © copyright by TJ Thorne.