These days everything seems to be about circles. Social circles … calling circles … crop circles.
The circle is a natural form that’s appealing to the human eye. We seem to be enticed by rounded curves … and leery of sharp corners.
As you know, we did our own circle thing, traveling around the globe. And when we looked back at our photography, we realized we’re obviously drawn to rounded patterns – circles, spheres, ellipses, spirals, cylinders – you name it. We learned that even the most mundane round objects can be interesting – from piles of tomatoes to stacks of plumber’s pipe.
Handmade sticky rice cakes cling to an upright bamboo drying frame in Luang Prabang, Laos. First the rice is steamed, then formed into disks and placed on the frame. They stick! Once dried, the patties will be deep fried and served as a tasty snack. You may think you know rice cakes, but trust me, these are not your usual, diet-staple rice cakes.
Brilliant Chinese lanterns hang at the entrance to a Buddhist temple in Singapore. Traditional red lanterns symbolize Buddha’s power to dispel the darkness. The color is significant because it represents happiness and good luck.
Shiny copper pipe on display in a Singapore hardware store. For us in the West, there is nothing more common than potable water. We just go to the sink and turn on the tap. However, it’s not that simple in parts of the world. Copper tubing traces its origins back to ancient Egypt where it was found in the temples of rulers, and remains in excellent condition today. Surprisingly, copper has an antibacterial property that helps to ward off microorganisms that cause Legionnaire’s disease.
Mound of Costoluto Fiorentino Tomatoes at The Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona’s Central Market. These Italian heirloom tomatoes are deeply ribbed, meaty, firm, juicy, and one of the best tomatoes for making spaghetti sauce. Is it a fruit or vegetable? According to The Tomato Lady, “In 1887, the US Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes were vegetables.” Hmmm … not sure that applies in the rest of the world.
Traditional Hmong silver collar necklaces are worn by Hmong women of the nomadic Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Southern China. They believe that evil spirits dislike silver, and wear their jewelry to bring good luck to themselves and their community. These large, breastplate necklaces are reserved for special ceremonies. Dragons represent power and strength; fish symbolize prosperity and fertility.
Broccoli Romanesco adds a colorful touch to this greengrocer’s display in Rome. This lime-green, alien-looking vegetable, with florets shaped like spiky Balinese temples, is used by mathematicians to illustrate logarithmic spirals and fractals.
Rounded stones adorn a Balinese public toilet wall. The people of Bali have perfected the art of creating beautiful patterns from natural materials, often involving rounded stones and flower petals. In Bali, even the bathrooms become art!
We lovingly refer to this Barcelona treasure as “The Eyeball House.” It appears to be covered in giant, all-seeing orbs. Are they really security cameras, or just someone’s tongue-in-cheek reminder that “Big Brother” is always watching?
Tangle of electrical wires above a busy Bangkok street. The circles seem to represent a harried electrician’s stab at creating order in the chaos … or he just had a lot of extra wire.
I’ve always enjoyed photographing repetitive patterns, but had no idea that circles were such a favorite until I looked at my photos. Psychologists have theories as to why a circle is naturally appealing, but no concrete answers. Research with infants has shown that we are born with a desire to look at circles – so the lesson from this experience is that my inner child must be alive and well. And without thinking about it, I still look at the world with a child’s sense of wonder.