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"Found Objects: On Noticing"

I've been writing lately about the differences between looking, seeing, and noticing. We all look at thousands of things in a given week, see some of them, notice even fewer in our busy driven lives. It could be called being conscious, present, mindful, open. The most interesting aspect of photography, I think, is that it can help us notice what we see, the angles and compositions inherent in matter and in living things, the mysteries and the surprises. Below are a few things I've accidentally stumbled upon; I once had writing students invent stories to go with each.

Found behind a derelict, abandoned gas station (that still had an "Esso" pump out front) in southern Minnesota, as though the Esso man (person?) had just been out there for a smoke.

In a remote area of Okracoke Island (NC), on thickly-wooded land near the ocean that didn't seem to belong to anyone, was a small weathered picket fence enclosure containing two pet graves. "Ikey" was dearer for being carved by hand.

In Taos, New Mexico, in around 2002, various homemade signs began appearing in a vacant lot on the main road through town. All were religious, mostly Catholic, some with small altars. This is apparently a prayer for the universe.

An abandoned one-room shack on a two-lane road in Kansas near the railroad tracks--nothing within a hundred miles. I've passed it on cross-country drives, from Minnesota to New Mexico, four times over ten years, and nothing is ever different about it, it doesn't fall down despite the fierce winds of the Great Plains.

On an afternoon near Palm Springs, California, this flying saucer cloud hovered overhead for quite a while. It floated away intact, never broke into smaller pieces.

A friendly greeting on an abandoned barn (I can't recall where I was, somewhere in the Midwest). Didn't see a soul, though I thought better of lingering all the same.