A Way of Seeing | A Way of Hearing

Theatre Square, Orinda – “Green”

Yeas ago, I read a great photography book called “Photography and the Art of Seeing” by Freeman Patterson. He challenged the reader to just photograph something in your own home and yard for one year. He challenged us to look for interesting things in what we previously would have expected to be the mundane – or at least what is taken for granted.

Republic of Cake, Theatre Square, Orinda

I pass by Theatre Square every day on my way to and from work. I’m usually in a hurry to get to work or come home. Late May I joined a new gym at Theatre Square, so it forces me to stop twice a day. The light during the morning and night are so different that you would easily miss the “interesting in the mundane”. At night there are shadows and while there is a Grill and Taproom called The Fourth Bore (named after the 4th tunnel that they bored in the Caldecott Tunnel a few years back), the place has always seemed like a quiet place with not much going on.

Theatre Square, Orinda

Theatre Square is on the “Village” side of Route 24 (Orinda is bisected by Highway 24), and it is very easy access from BART. It has always seemed like it wanted to be like Market Hall in Rockridge – which is the next BART stop toward Oakland and San Francisco, but the Rockridge clientele is more “Urbane” and is different than in Orinda – which is more young family. This has led to Theatre Square never really taking off like Market Hall did. However, there are a few restaurants and other businesses like Starbucks that are doing great business.

Detritus in the exit stairwell of the Orinda Theatre

The Orinda Theatre has been there the longest – and it has some nice deco features and a big neon sign. They built a modern shopping “galleria” around the theatre and while its no icon of architecture, its also more pleasant and nicer than I had originally thought. It is very functional, and The Fourth Bore is owned by a fellow who has had two other themed restaurants that have always been packed. Between his businesses and a handful of others, there is life there – but it could be more if they keep tweaking their formula.

However, being that its a kind of hidden away place – when I go to and from the gym twice a day – it gives me pause and makes me look around more. The more I look, the more I find. Recently – with the light changing, when I started going to the gym before and after work – I found that the morning light has shifted and all of a sudden I am seeing things that I have walked past for years. The quietness of the place means I can take photos without getting in the way or with too many people passing by – as would be the case at Market Hall in Rockridge. Of course, Market Hall would be a better place to capture the vibrancy of people walking in and out, but Theatre Square does offer “something” of its own.

I’ve also had some experience with other senses, especially hearing as far as “discovery” goes. On the radio, and at home and at work – sometimes I have heard something and instantly thought I “knew what someone or something meant”. Then, later on, I would realize I might have been too quick to “tag” that sound. Many times, someone might start a conversation and not give enough context or background, and I would misinterpret what that person was trying to ask or say. Its very similar to photography – where you are recording what you think is “the truth”. My early opinion that Theatre Square was boring, devoid of life and a place to just pass by was wrong – it was my fault and problem that I had such an opinion. I also realize that I probably can always strive to do better when I listen to others. We are all in such a hurry these days – and I’ve noticed we have moved our attentions from listening or seeing to our little Smart Phones – as if the worlds truths are contained on that little screen. I’m learning just how limiting those little screens are.

I’ve started carrying my camera daily to work, and my hope is I can start finding new things on my way to and from work and share them in my blog.

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