Monday, 31 August 2015

a circular presentation

Although it is not the mathematical symbol for infinity, the circle is the best geometrical representation of this concept. For example, a circle can be visualized as a polygon with an infinite number of sides, and the ratio of its circumference to its diameter, which is represented by the Greek letter π, is a transcendental number. This means that even if its value is calculated to an infinite number of decimal places, there will be no repeating number sequences.

The circle, and its three-dimensional analogue the sphere, do not occur in nature. The orbits of planets around their parent stars, which Copernicus postulated were circular, are in fact elliptical. And although the growth rings of trees are roughly circular, there are always minute variations in the thickness of individual rings. Meanwhile, stars and their accompanying planets are only approximately spherical.

None of this is relevant to the purpose of this post, which is to present a series of abstract photographs that use the circle as a motif. Each picture is followed by a brief comment on the image.

a bigger splash

The title of this photo references the title of a painting by David Hockney, although it doesn’t resemble that painting. The image was created by tossing a small cobble into a nearby stream.


This image is of water dripping from trees into a puddle on the road. I’ve given it this title because the ripples do not appear to be interfering with each other.


Although this picture is self-evidently a cross-section through a tree, it immediately reminded me of an impact crater.

set the controls for the heart of the sun

Another cross-section through a tree, but this one looks like some kind of aiming device. The title comes from a song on Pink Floyd’s 1968 album Saucerful of Secrets.

straw man

The arms and legs of this stick figure radiate from the centre of a series of concentric circles (a tree cross-section again). In normal use, the phrase ‘straw man’ refers to a particular type of fallacious argument in which the person who is making the argument constructs a false image of an idea, which is obviously much easier to criticize than the real thing. Incidentally, a circular argument is another type of logical fallacy.


This is the most nearly circular of the oil stain photos I’ve taken this summer, although the jagged edges make it the least circular of the images here.

The first two photos were taken in Hong Kong last winter, while the rest were taken this summer in and around my home town of Penrith.


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