Life is a puzzle; we are the clues, and God is the answer.
I am no visual artist, but among the skills I tried to teach myself when I was fresh from university and work did not yet demand so much of my time was graphic design. Armed with some how-to articles I could find in the internet, I tinkered with Photoshop, in the hope that one day I’d be able to create personalized and especially made cards to send to my friends, or some good images with which to decorate my photo albums.
Years after those hours of tedious self-instructions, I found myself very thankful that I had the sense to make my spare time productive by trying to learn things that, during those times, had seemed daunting (hence, better left to the real artists) and even useless. Not only was I eventually able to create passable designs for simple invitations and even coffee table books for family and close friends, but my little knowledge of the process also tremendously helped me perform my job when I got to a publication where, from time to time, there arose the need for me to know what is visually appealing and what is not.
But that is not all that I am thankful for. There is also something in the process of image editing that helped me better grasp the idea that there is a great design of things, of which we only see a part because of our limited perceptions.
Let me elaborate.
There are times when, as I work on an image that need to be retouched or edited, say a picture of a smiling girl holding a bouquet of flowers but whose arm is smudged with few patches of dirt — nothing that simple editing cannot correct — I need to zoom in the object to have a much closer view of the part that need to be edited.
Looking at the object this close and seeing just the part I need to work on, it often seems to me that the part I am looking at doesn’t make sense at all. There are moments when I have a hard time imagining how that particular part is related to the whole object, even if I know what it is, having seen it in its entirety before zooming in the image.
I zoom in the object some more, and it becomes blurry and all the more senseless. It looks like just some pixels or dots thrown in together at random, with no connection with one another whatsoever. At this view, it is hard to connect the pixels and imagine what they might form.
Then I zoom the object out a little, and a little more, and I get a clearer view of the part I am viewing on my computer screen. I will now recognize it as a part of something, although at this view, I may still not see it as what it really is in connection to the whole picture — how indispensable this part may be to the whole.
I zoom the image out once more and, now seeing the whole picture again, I see what the part exactly is, how it is connected to the whole picture, and just how relevant it is. Then I start feeling like an idiot for failing to recognize it and make sense out of it when I was looking at it at “close range.”
There are still times when I find the time to sit down in front of my computer and do some image corrections. But even now, I am still mesmerized each time I get on with this process of zooming in and zooming out, especially when I connect it with the idea I adhere to when trying to grasp life and its many mysteries. Each time I do this process, or think of it, I see some sort of parallelism between how differently we view an image when we see it up close, focusing only on a single part, and when we see it in its entirety; and how differently we view a life event when we are in the thick of it, and when we are simply observing it from a distance.
When something happens and we are personally involved, or someone close to us is, it is often hard to see things more objectively. We tend to be emotional and subjective. But when we aren’t involved, we can be more objective and are more able to keep our emotions in check.
There are also times when, as something is happening, we don’t understand what it means no matter how hard we try to analyze the events leading to it. Then, at a much later date, in some mysterious way or another, we get to understand what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. And as understanding dawn upon us, we say, “Ah! Kaya pala!”
So yes, I am thankful that I know a little about tinkering with images. Because with this little knowledge that I have, I understand that like everyone else, I may also have a limited perspective of things. And every time I sit down and work on an image, I am reminded that in many instances, I may not be seeing things in their proper perspective; that all I may be seeing is just a part or several parts of a whole. So I am more open to other people’s ideas —understanding them, analyzing them, testing them — instead of dismissing them outright. And so I write this piece, realizing that all I am presenting may just be a part or an aspect of a whole.
//Sherma E. Benosa
27 October 2007; 2:01am