• January weekend, midday.


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Examine an everyday place with fresh eyes, and practice taking photos with my new digital camera.


A traditional, leafy neighborhood park.


I deliberately chose a Record card, Photography and a Discover card, Surfaces. I brought my digital camera and a tripod to the park, and took an inventory of its surfaces: The textures of tree bark and leaves; the varied materials of the pathways; chain link fences; wooden picnic benches and playground equipment. The intermittent rain left surfaces sparkling and reflective.

Back in the studio, I reviewed my photos, noticing broad categories of materials – wood, vegetation, mud, metal and rubber. I decided to create a pocket-sized booklet that I could flip through any time I wanted to recall the materiality of Wilshire Park - a palette of surfaces. I arranged the images for narrative interest and chose not to caption the photos, letting the sequence of textures speak for itself. Most of my shots were fairly close-up, but for the cover, I chose a longer-range view that gave a sense of the park as a whole, and that incorporated multiple surface types. After printing and cutting out the pages on card stock, I had the booklet coil-bound at a local print shop.


Though I was in a place I had seen many times before, this visit was a deeply rewarding one. Normally I stroll around a single circuit with my dog. I am lost in thought, appreciating the tall, sheltering trees above and the crunch of the bark path underfoot, but unaware of much else. This time, I criss-crossed the entire park, and became absorbed in close-up details. I saw the fine rivulets of a metal shelter roof, and the velvety moss collecting on tree branches. I caught the reflection of a tree in a puddle. I noticed the soft, feathery texture of pine needles, and the graffiti carved into a picnic table. I observed how paint weathered differently on wood than it does on metal. Exploring the park with a singular focus on surfaces, was a meditative and instructive experience.

As for the little booklet, I find it pleasing to hold the gestalt of my trip in the palm of my hand. When I flip through the pages, I recall not only the surfaces of the park, but also the moody light and the smell of wet leaves. Even though I focused on recording one element of the park, the resulting memento evokes the whole experience of being there.

An Inventory of Park Surfaces

A drizzly day. A neighborhood park. A camera focused on one thing: Surfaces.

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