Saving Books, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

It’s a long train ride up to the ‘top’ of Manhattan but we finally made it to the Cloisters last November. Here’s a subject dear to my heart. No — not burning books, my subject is saving them!

Cloisters: Allegorical Scene with Book Burning, Netherlandish, ca 1520-1530

Stained glass at the Cloisters: Allegorical Scene with Book Burning, Netherlandish — ‘Farenheit 451’ ca 1520-1530

I prefer to think this character is lifting that book away from the fire. Saving books is what I like to think I’m doing when I list our used books for sale online, or take time to find the right homes to donate them to. I can’t stand to think of books getting thrown away or recycled.  Letting them go to the landfill would be a modern version of book-burning. (and btw, can anyone figure out the words in the banderole above the fire? I should have done that when I was there in person)

Here are a few recent triumphs from book-selling:

  • Elements of Mathematics, General Topology, Part 1.  Part 2 sold a couple of weeks later, to a different buyer. Looking back, I see I listed these books for sale in April and September 2013. Selling used books is not for the impatient.
  • Recreational Mathematics magazine, December 1961 (“devoted to the lighter side of mathematics”). The August 1961 issue sold a couple of years ago.  Here’s a quote.

There was a magician named Pratt,

Who hid ninety birds in his hat.

Exactly two-thirds

Of a third of those birds

Were robins –  how many was that?

  • Rick Steves’ Pocket Amsterdam and National Geographic Walking Amsterdam walked Amsterdam with us on our trip last fall, then sold on Amazon when we got home.

But back to the rule of thirds: in composition, it calls for placing the subject off-center, aligned, ideally, along vertical or horizontal lines of a grid that divides the image into nine equal parts.  “Power points” are at the intersections of these lines. If I’d paid better attention to the rule of thirds, the faces in my photos would be at power points.  As it was, I just wanted to frame the glass image with a view of the cloistered garden outside.

Here’s one more image… a medieval Wild Man, covered in hair (first cousin to the Green Man?). The Wild Man is such a favorite subject of mine that I won’t say any more about him here; I’ll save him for another post.

Wild Man supporting a Heraldic Shield,  the Cloisters, Netherlandish, 1510-1530

Wild Man supporting a Heraldic Shield, the Met Museum Cloisters, Netherlandish, 1510-1530

How about it – are you a fan of the Wild Man yet?

More about the Cloisters of the Metropolitan Museum

More about the Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds


15 thoughts on “Saving Books, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

  1. Lovely stained glass windows. I too like to think the book is being held away from the fire. What a waste of a book if it’s going down in those blazing flames. However, the angry expression on that face gives me the inkling that my guess is wrong…

    You are right. Selling books is not for the impatient. A couple of years ago I listed a university programming textbook online (an Australian online second hand book website) since I didn’t need it anymore. No one bought it from me after a year so I decided to donate it to the free-for-all library corner in the shopping centre down the road…and it was snatched up overnight. Wasn’t there when I walked by the next day 🙂

    • I’m sure I’ll have books left over when the time comes that I get to move. I thought I might bundle up the leftover sci-fi books to take to Dragon Con (sci-fi/fantasy con) with a “free to a good home” sign. I tried that with a boxful a couple of years ago, also with a box of art supplies I left in the Art Dept hallway on a nearby campus. Like your free-for-all library, they went fast!

      • You sure know how to give your things a new home. Funny how people are eager to show second-hand stuff lots of love when they are free. But I suppose free things come with a lot of love and goodwill in the first place. Dragon Con certainly sounds interesting. Lots of cosplay there when it rolls around, I’m guessing.

      • We’ve gotta be creative when it comes to getting stuff to it’s right home — else we’ll be over-run with it, right? And Dragon Con, yes, cosplay rules and it’s always a discovery.

  2. I never heard of the Cloisters in Manhattan. But it looks beautiful! The writing in your first photo: olim gratus eram is Latin. And it means “I once was grateful”. It’s fairly similar to Italian which would read “Una volta ero grato”! I guess i had a slight advantage, huh?
    By the way, I think your shots are great. But I don’t know much about photography, or thirds, or any of that. Maybe I should join the photo challenges. Lord knows I could use some help!

    • I love the Cloisters, had only been there once before and that was many years ago. You have a great eye on the inscription. I kept puzzling “olim” and couldn’t see it until you told me. I kept seeing “oliyi” which made zero sense. I wonder what it means in this context?
      You might enjoy the photo challenges. I find it keeps me positive in the face of grumpiness at all the work I have left to do. Since it’s different every week, it’s a bright spot to have a workable challenge. (plus, there’s the “any excuse to take pictures” factor)

  3. Dear Hoarder
    Would there be copyright problems if I used your photo of hellebores for a watercolour painting?
    Best wishes, Kathy

  4. I also love the Cloisters. Such an incredible story of philanthropy on a grand scale. I was told they also bought the land across the river to preserve the view from the terrace. Great to see you doing your bit to save books and other bits of history on a slightly smaller scale!

    • Yes, the view is gorgeous. We were there in the fall and got a little color, although it was not a bright day. I’ll find some photos of the view over the Hudson River for a later post. Thanks for commenting! — Sandy

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