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Pomp and Circumstance | by kern.justin
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Pomp and Circumstance

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I saw a teenage kid checking out Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish at the library the other day, which made me think of this photograph. You see, this is where I received my Ph.D. after listening to Shubin give a commencement address on how education changes the way we see. It was a great piece about influence and perspective given by someone with considerable faculties.


I've often thought about what topic I would cover if given the chance to to cover both my vocation and my avocation in the same talk. I think it would be about all the non-visual ways we "see" in both photography and molecular biology and about how successful photography has to transmit much more than plain sight. We trick ourselves into believing we are seeing images that represent reality, or even that there is a visual "reality," so constantly throughout our lives that we use the phrase "seeing is believing." But seeing is only observing and observation can be misleading. If I were to describe successful photography with an equally simple phrase, I would choose "seeing is feeling." That is, to see a successful photograph is to feel the photographers intent.


My intention below is to give you a feeling of the grandeur and the pomp and circumstance of a night in Rockefeller Chapel. Although this is where the graduates walk down the aisle, I don't mean to put you in those shoes, as those shoes also require a silly robe and sillier hat!


Instead I want to convey the quiet splendor and pomp of a space to which I had the good circumstance of being given full access. The dean even let me play with the lights as she left, asking me only to lock up.


Letting a photographer play with the lights in a cathedral is like letting fox into the henhouse - I tried about every combination!

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Taken on February 11, 2010