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Fovea Centralis

image copyright Fred First

There is a small circle the size of a BB on the human retina, and within it, a pit. And it is here--and only here--where light entering the eye results in a tiny area of very sharp vision. This region of the retina is called the macula lutea, the pit, the fovea centralis, and this tiny depression keeps us from having to process the entire field of vision in focus and precision all the time. To do so would overwhelm our neural circuitry.

You can confirm this fact of narrow focus by fixing your view on a single letter in this sentence for five seconds. Only a few words will be clear enough to read, the rest remains a blur until you scan your eyes together across whatever is just out of your field of focused vision.

The fovea centralis came to mind in the wee hours last night, because I was wishing I had a one for my poor brain even with my eyes closed, as not one thing came to mind, but all things at once. A brain can't focus on all things at once, said brain objected, and yet there they all were competing for that one small shaft of light called attention that illuminates a single task until the force called execution can make it happen.

Wow--a longwinded way of saying I have lots to do today--all do-able, mostly innocuous, but noxious when it all piles on top of a sleepy brain at two o'clock in the morning.

So what does this have to do with the picture from the foggy Parkway bikers? I haven't a clue, but of course I can always concoct a way to segue into something related, don't you know.

Fog. I love taking pictures in the fog. It serves as a fovea centralis for the aesthetic eye, hiding things in the periphery and depth of view, calling into focus a single rock or tree or barn while the edges go soft and cloudy.

While there isn't enough morning fog in it to isolate in the way I just mentioned, I'm happy to find a fog-moody image (of the barn and pasture) among the four of mine used for Cara Modisett's piece on Floyd in the Decenber 2006 issue of Blue Ridge Country Magazine (p. 61-63) that arrived here yesterday. Blogger David St. Lawrence also has a few images of artists at the Jacksonville Center for the piece. Altogether, a very nice treatment of "Floyd, Virginia: The Newest Arts Capital in the Blue Ridge".


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If I didn't know how busy you are, I'd think you deliberately built that rail fence in order to set up this really wonderful photo.

A great analogy for that middle of the night heart thump that wakes me in a panic. I'd never heard of the fovea centralis--love it when in addition to beautiful imagery you also teach us something new and useful.

'morning Fred, just got my copy of BlueRidge Country in the mail and the title shot on the Floyd page looks great. You really messed up my normal routine for enjoying this mag though; I normally enjoy Elizabeth Hunter's words first. I hope you are enjoying the fire in the stove this morning...have a great day.

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