You know that electric fence taste you get in your teeth when you're on a rickety wooden roller coaster, right at the apex, just before the slow click clack becomes a metal-on-metal screech and you are screaming but no one can hear you, hurtling straight down to your certain death, and you hit that first turn and think your stomach, although no longer attached to your body, is going to explode? Doesn't happen to you?
Oh. Yeah, that's right. Smart people don't ride roller coasters.
Well then, let me vicariously describe the "teeth on edge" taste for you: bad cucumbers in ozone sauce. Phzzzzzzttttt... the smell of sheer Coney Island terror combined with 100% right-now concentration. What a rush.
Maybe you've experienced the wheeling vertigo of peeking over the edge of the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls or the Sears Tower, straight down into the murky abyss. Whoosh, rush of blood to the head, sweaty hands gripping the railing, something inside you wants to jump. You back off; that's close enough to the edge.
Edges. They come in all flavors.
Chef knives have razor sharp cutting edges, art critics have caustic edges, I'm edgy when tired (so I'm told), my old truck always gets edged out of the fast lane. Ruffles have ridges; skis have 1° edges.
Diligence edges out laziness, or should. Desperate people gobble drugs to take the edge off. Creative people live on the edge. Winning the lottery is a double-edged sword. The earth was flat once, and had an edge. Peeking over, one could see four elephants standing on a turtle which in turn was balanced atop a cobra. The cobra stirs; all earth inhabitants tremble and edge closer to one another to ride out the quake.
Sharpening a photo increases local contrast; lights become lighter, darks become darker, and an edge emerges. A diagonal line edges through a painting and evokes visual tension, inferred interest. Edgy novels disturb, can creep you out, make you uneasy. Edgy movies get under the skin, keep playing through your mind long after the credits roll. The Edge is U2's slashing guitarist.
Scrabble lists 19 8-letter words that contain edge. Impledge, hedgehog, pledgees, and several others that fit in edgeways and edgewise. Edge is #1352 in the list of most popular words, right between scale and views.
Edge can also masquerade as boundary, brink, perimeter, shore, verge, frame, dominance, supremacy, mastery, cusp, sway, authority, cut, cliff, ledge, and can be used as noun or verb. Edges define figure and ground, positive and negative space, light versus dark, yellow sun against blue sky. Edge™ Shave Gel leaves your face feeling refreshed and hydrated.
Without edges, we could perceive nothing. So when edges make you edgy, be happy.
For this assignment, look for and create edges in your photographs. Manipulate lines and space; identify edges that parallel or intersect. Strengthen a photo with substantial edges; break the edges of another into angular pieces. When does a line become an edge? Do your own internal edges break through your viewfinder? What do they look like in print?
ON EDGE will run for two weeks, from January 26 through February 9. Happy shooting!