Last week, on my way to somewhere else, I spent a little time wandering in a park and happened on the scene you see above. As you may guess, it is a reflection of trees in a slow-moving stream, which I inverted to present to you as a painterly dreamscape.

A moment later, from the same position, I made the following photograph of the same subject. If the first conjures a dreamy impression, the second may make you rather think nightmare. Why are they so different?


Obviously, the second has a much darker distribution of tones. Not only does that have an emotional impact in itself, but it also hides the detail in the shadows, which could otherwise provide a more airy, open feeling. Furthermore, one feels more hemmed in with the second image simply because there is less sky, less open space to go to.

The picture below is another taken at the same time. To me at least, it seems a more obscure and confusing place, both psychologically and in the world.


None of these images is manipulated, except in ways that all photographs are: exposure, contrast, etc. Do they all record what a place looked like at a particular moment? Which place is it?