Saturday, June 13, 2015

Heiligkrueztal Retreat Seminar.

  It is not clear when was the last time I wrote a blog, but it must be very long time ago. Lots of things happened in this semester, and I barely wrote a blog to record the trail of my life in Tübingen. 
Maybe as I said in the last blog, one needs the strong inner drive to write.

  I also wonder does this mean I also stop thinking, since writing is the explicit form of mental process, or I was simply lost my ability to sense the subtlety of life anyway ?

  Amongst the things I am going to write down in this blog, the first thing that I want myself and those who are constantly watching this intermittent diary to know it that I've got a scholarship in this semester !

  I don't know how it happened to me, but you know, every dog has its day.

Here is the story. 

   I always know it is important to maintain good relationships even with people who seems to be distant or unfriendly because you don't know whom you will need when you are in desperately need.  

  Dr.Herbert in the head of our program. He was a strict and prudent man around 60 years old. He was infamous for his stern look and grumpy temper when you disturbed his job. He would not put on a friendly smile and mildly seek your compliance as any well-rounded adults in Taiwan and in the US will do. When he felt you disturbed him, and you were not aware of that, or you were not trying to avoid that, he came to you and blatantly asked you to change. For many times I was called by him due to the noise I made when closing the door. How could I be blamed ? The problem could be easily solved by adhering a rubber cushion alone the door frame.
 No one, especially for foreign students, has yet to accustomed to this straight-forward, typical German expression. It was emotionless, bloodless, and ruthless regarding to how most of us were educated when we were asking someone else for a favor: be politer than polite.

An old farm house near the one I stayed during our seminar.  The unadorned green window frame and bland beige wall give me a warm, simple, harmonious impression. It was not meant to be an eye-catcher, and the theme colors suits the background landscape perfectly. I was charmed by its down-to-earth, simple, unaffected style because it reflects the life style of its owner. They are all hospitable and friendly people. This photo was taken around 3 pm. It was hot, dry, and plenty of light to capture the best color. I remember all my classmates went to the park playing games, allowing me to savor the serenity and unspoiled street view.

  I was impartially sociable and warm regardless how unfairly I was treated by him. That very day in the morning, I was light chatting with him in a hope to ameliorate our relationship. I was asking him if he knew any lab doing neuroprosthetics. As a German, he take my question seriously, and give me some names he knew. Unexpectedly, he mentioned if I was funded by any scholarship. I was actually pretty desperate for money then since I took student loan, and my job application was just rejected by a group leader.  Baffled by his sudden question concerning my financial state, I uncomfortably confessed that I was not good enough to get myself funded, and I was looking for a Hiwi, or research assistant, job.

   He asked me if I read the email the coordinator sent me, and kept on saying they wanted to give me a grant after knowing I haven' t read the mail. ''WHAT ? WHY? '' I could hardly believe my ear. I did poorly in the class, and I didn't apply for that. ''Are their brains broken ? '' I was startled incredulously.

  Of course I did't slip my tongue. You can't make that stupid mistake regardless how stupid you are. ''They must have a good reason. Maybe I am not that bad at all. '' I tried to convince myself that I was actually an underestimated genius whose talent was so profound that his poor grades told nothing of it.

This picture is a good demonstration of the power of triangular composition. The dark brown rooftop, and the shadow on the right consist the diagonal section lines of the picture. The stark contrast of the color on the upper left and bottom right are separated by the brown roof, which ameliorate the presence of the two extreme. Noteworthily, the fresh green tapering tower is emphasized due to its distinguished position and color. Maybe you can come up with some meaning for it ? In my eyes, the church tower is not so solemn, perfect and unreachable like most cathedrals. However, it is its humble and banal style makes it so welcoming and homy to the locals. It is conveying an idea: God is not just a supreme existence. God is also a father that has mercy even to people as humble as you and me.  I like the design of the church. It is ordinary, plain, but it is never grimy and chaotic.


The roses are in full blossom during the day. You can also see the small buds around the bloom at the bottom. The rose vine consisted an arch of the front yard of a residence. It was blossomed at its best, and it touched me since it is the symbol of eternal love, and the garden reminded me of Romeo and Julie. The sun penetrated through the leaves, forming a bright spot on the CCD. You can think of it as a divine ideal, which the mundane love, the rose,  is looking up to. Juxtaposing and manipulating the interactions of the two symbols generate many possible interpretations. To name a few: 1. love is a pure form of divine existence. 2. We mundane are always looking for a kind of idealistic purity in our life, and love can be one of the answers. 3. We mortals can never reach the level of pure platonic, spiritual love, as how unconditionally God loves us. However, love itself is good. Therefore, our love is blessed by him. A picture convey more in this moment. 

The old wall and vine, very classic combination, consist a stereotypical sets of ideas.  Summertimes, abundance, joyful moment of life, and eternal vitality setting roots on heavy, out-dated, monotonic history.  This theme is a good object of practice. Especially you can easily create a contrast of depth, complexity, and brightness. It lacks focus and center of attention, making it a good wallpaper. 
Another photo conveying simple aesthetic principle. Repetition and order. Our eyes cannot catch too many information at the same time. Try to convey one and only one idea of beauty, and eliminate all distractions in the frame. 

 I didn't tried to compose the picture to make it looks like Monet's painting, but you immediately notice their resemblance. Another good demonstration of design. Exploit what your audience have already learned, leverage the idea of your photo on those giants. It is not teaching you to replicate, to imitate, but showing you great artworks are usually a result of recreating, reinterpreting the ideas and principles that has been well established.

This is a hard one for me. I spend a lot of time contemplating the best crop. My camera is not equipped with fixed focus lens, and it was difficult to make my idea simple because the scene was pretty messy. Too many distractions. What I tried to capture was the shadow and the light, the tangled creeper and the wooden door of the barn. I don't know how other people think, but I think the scene is unbalanced. That is, deficient in clear contour and color blocks. Secondly, there are too many distractions, or so to speak, too many foci in it. This scene is absolutely beautiful, full of exquisite spots, but I should have spend more time to analyze, organize and design what at the best I could have got.  
Saturated color, exposed bricks, and unusual roof design. Time left trace on what it has touched. This small town was old, experienced, and very telling. Coming from a young and modern city. The coexistence of history and present in this town was very intense and imposing. It was a very thick, textured experience that took me a while to digest. The history was not only in the building, the landscape, but also in the lifestyle and people's faith, value, and characters. I walked into the history, walked into the painting, and I almost met Millet around the corner of the street. 

Two windows and a whit wall. You sure not much information in the scene ? I tried to convey the subtle beauty of texture. Texture is important, but easily neglected by lay person's eyes. It determines the quality of the color, and the authenticity. Good rendering of texture evokes textile sense in your brain. The texture of the white color make it more tangible, as if you can caress it with your eyes. In fact, there is nothing that is flat and smooth in natural scene. There is always variability, fluctuation, and inhomogeneity in real world. Our world is, to some degree, chaotic, noisy, and irrational. Again, light is the best friend of photographers.

What more can I say ? 1914 ? 2015 ? 3 lifetimes' span doesn't cause much difference. the only trace that expose the year is the sign and the watch. The wall was so uneven, damaged. It strikes me as an organism being with its own metabolism, just like human skin. The house is not inanimate object, but a living thing for centuries. It always hurls me in awe.    

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