Resolving Chaos



On Monday I had a few hours to kill in the Los Angeles airport.

I was on my way home from an intense weekend workshop with acclaimed photographer Sam Abell

Sam’s photography seeks, in part, to resolve the chaos of every day life.

I took the time at the oh-so-chaotic LAX to put to work some of the lessons learned in his class.

I have never been taught photography so it was a bit nerve-wracking to be putting my work before a master for the first time.

But Sam is extraordinarily kind and encourages all students so I came away motivated to work harder at image making.

Now to put to practice the many things taught.

When I married the service included a reading of Robert Frost’s The Master Speed

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste,
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will,
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still —
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with such a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

One of the things that Sam Abell teaches in his classes is to compose the scene and wait/be ready for it to be animated by something that happens.

As Frost puts it “the power of standing still”.

Thank you to my life partner for the wing to wing gift of this workshop, it will always be with me.



Click the photograph for a larger version.





19 thoughts on “Resolving Chaos

  1. Pingback: Barbed Wire Study, LAX | One Day | One Image

  2. There is much grace and generosity in this post, so thank you for gracing my day with those qualities. I like the instruction to compose, then wait until the scene animates itself, and I too do not often photograph people or wildlife, so it forces us to think a little further along – always a good thing. How wonderful that Melinda encouraged you, your partner gave the gift and you took in on fully. Something for me to think about.
    (But surely you had a bull horn and told those people where to stand and which way to face!).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank so much bluebrightly – the bullhorn part of your comment is awesome (well, all of your comment is) as it distills the unlikelihood of that alignment appearing on its own, and of me being there to see and to pay attention. That is a pantheon of the improbable.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You don’t normally wax lyrical like this Mr E! It was a beautiful tribute to your wife and to the gift she gave you in that course. I had. Along look at Sam’s work. He sure is a master. I spotted some photos of Australia in the home page slide show and found a complete series elsewhere on his site. His work is incredible and so distinctive, it must’ve been so exciting to be taught by him.

    Your photo has a lovely diagonal running through it and is very different to your other images. I’m looking forward to more. 😊❌

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Kate 🙂 Sam is indeed masterful – such a privilege to be instructed by him.
      I love how that diagonal resolved itself for a split second. It is a good lesson about compose and wait.

      For sure not my usual kind of photo, and as much as I like how things came together in this shot, it is more about practice and less about what matches my sensibilities. I just need the kinds of back layers that make me happy, combined with this kind of harmony and I will be smiling.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I love that poem that you quote there. ‘The power of standing still’ and patiently waiting is something we need to do more often in this hectic world that we live in. I like the photo too. It always surprises me when I use a camera at Airports that no-one ever stops me – with all the fuss about security these days, I would have expected to be stopped. But no, never.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Andy, I was waiting for the firm hand on my shoulder from behind, and it never came. There is another scene that I tried to resolve for nearly 40 minutes standing in one spot with camera to eye and foot traffic parting around me like a boulder in a stream. Nothing said nor even any annoyed or aggressive looks (that I noticed). I had to stop when I realised my legs were going to sleep and my knees had been locked – good thing I didn’t faint because that would have resulted in a lot of attention.

      Liked by 1 person

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