By Jim McCloskey
WaterShapes has been privileged to publish countless beautiful photographs through the years, and many of the best of them ended up on the printed magazine’s cover.
On a few occasions, however, great images weren’t available for cover appearances. There were several possible reasons for this, but most often it had something to do with image size or orientation and the limitations of our cover’s format.
Such was the case with the image seen just below: It was smallish, strongly horizontal shot – just three by five inches at the resolution we needed – and there was no way we could blow it up and crop it into the eight-inch-square configuration we needed while still meeting our high production standards. It was a shame we couldn’t run with it, but that was the way the cookie occasionally crumbled.
I’m not quite sure what it is about the photograph that grabs me. Maybe it’s the fact that I was a dedicated amateur astronomer for a couple years, or the reddened beauty of Cor-Ten steel used in such an unusual application, or the earnest simplicity of the watershape. Whatever it is about the image that first captured my imagination, it has stuck with me for many years and will continue to do so. (I think so highly of it, in fact, that when we rotated a new set of images onto our home page in August 2014, this was one of the first I selected.)
My ongoing fondness for this photograph popped immediately to mind when I heard a couple weeks ago from Jim Wilder, the Northern California watershaper who’d built the private observatory’s reflecting pool. An accomplished fountain designer and builder who now specializes in devising and installing complex hydraulic systems, he wanted to discuss a book idea he had in mind – and I was interested.
The book, which has the working title Zen and the Art of Water, will be all about fountains and how they’re designed and built. He’ll cover basic hydraulics, equipment selection, materials of construction and much more. I’ll be supporting him on the editorial side of things, and the first fruit of his labor is the Case Study shared in this edition of the newsletter.
This and the other case studies that will periodically join it are intended to lend a Big Picture gloss to the minute practicalities covered in the book’s technical sections. These articles will ultimately be part of the book, and we’ll be publishing several of them in this newsletter in months to come – both as a preview of the book and because they represent interesting, challenging work that includes approaches and solutions worth sharing.
We haven’t established a timeline around Jim’s busy schedule, but you’ll have an unusual opportunity to watch the project unfold, page by page. Should be interesting – and fun.