A travel and photography blog by Loke Chee Meng
About the title shot :
In the autumn of 2009, I found Little Bugsie, of all places, on a toilet sink in the Days Landscape Hotel located at the foot of Changbaishan, Jilin, China. I invited Bugsie into the room. I gave it the 'red carpet' welcome and took the shot above with a Panasonic DMC-LX3.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Seeing is believing. Or is it? A Copenhagen experience.

I used to have the following two photographs hung side by side on the wall in my office and I had often asked visitors who bothered to look at them what they thought of them.

Photo A

Photo B

These two photographs were taken using a Nikon Coolpix 4100 which has 4.0 effective megapixels. Yes, 4.0 megapixels!  This camera could probably qualify as an antique by now.   I used it recently and it still works.

These 2 photos were not displayed for their technical or artistic merits. So, I wasn't disappointed when nobody commented on those aspects.

Invariably, it did not take any observer much difficulty to say, 'Ah, it's the same place.'  'Yes', I said, 'But what else?'.  The observer would scrutinize the photos further, ponder a while and said, 'Yes, I know the difference; one was taken in summer and the other in winter!' And they were pretty sure about that.

The place in the photographs is Frederiksberg Have in Copenhagen, Denmark.  (So, don't say I only blog about travel in China.)

The observers were right to say that the two are of the same place.   However, they were WRONG to say that one was taken in summer and the other in winter.

Both photos were taken in springtime, April 2008.    More specifically, the second photo with snow on the ground was taken the morning after the first one.  So, it surprised a lot of people that green grass could be covered with snow overnight!  But that was exactly what happened.  I went to Frederiksberg Have, a nice serene park in the suburban area of Copenhagen one Sunday afternoon and took the first photo.  Then that night, heavy snow fell over Copenhagen.  Next morning, the snowing had stopped and I immediately took a train and rushed to Frederiksberg Have to roughly the same spot as the day before and took the second shot.  Frederiksberg Have was totally transformed into winterland.  When told that transition from photo A to photo B took place overnight, many people expressed surprise and some,  disbelief.

I like to use these two photos to illustrate the following learning points:

1) We should not use our conventional understanding based on familiar notions to look at things.  In the photos above, the conventional notion is that when there is green grass, it must be summer or spring.  When there is snow, it must be winter. Wrong!

2) For us living in the tropics, we cannot imagine such a transition could happen in so short a time.  But to the Danes, this type of transition is probably not uncommon.  Therefore, when dealing with matters across different culture, environment and context, we should look at things with respect to that context. Actually, in tropical Singapore, we do frequently experienced sudden transition from bright sunny sky to heavy downpour.  Changes can happen suddenly.

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