Encyclopaedia Visualis, Decay and Resilience!


After so many photography challenges… after almost reaching 700 instances of our weekly theme, I came to realise something noble about this visual endeavor. An effort which by itself, is a fit example of resistance and endurance. In a nutshell, we've been translating those concepts transferring our existence into a visual language. We are putting language into visual terms, like any other bilingual dictionary with equivalents in English concepts.

So far, we've got 697 concepts of just one language. And if you ask me, that sounds like we can expect challenges to be alive for a long time! What makes our glossary the most unique, is the myriad of examples our community shares to agree upon a visual concept. In that sense, it is just like building knowledge from an open scheme!

For this week's challenge, Tersha and Dahlia agreed on “decay” and “resilience” but portrayed from within the boundaries of abandoned structures: a popular theme among the urbex photography community.

As a researcher, I've found that comprehending something unknown is more likely to happen when starting from the source. So what exactly is “decay” and “resilience” to begin? Let's see what an etymology source has to say about these two:

  • From the old French «decheoir», it would mean to fall, or the set of the sun, also weaken or to decline. And became understood as the sense of “decompose”. Or “rot”, which Middle English defined as «fester or decay morally, become morally corrupt». Later in the 1500s, things got sophisticated and decay was established as the transitive sense of “cause to deteriorate, cause to become unsound or impaired”. In the late 1890s, decay became a «gradual decrease in radioactivity» for physicists; click here for more curious oddities about decay.
  • From  from Latin «resilientem» which translates into something springing back or returning to the original position. Therefore, we can point to resilience in anything resuming shape after experiencing some type of stress; further insights here.

Writing these lines before walking around the images corresponding to decay and resilience feels as exciting as testing a hypothesis. Actually, this might be the required degree of freedom behind ensuring some quality in our «encyclopaedia visualis». Now, Before delighting our sight with the images our talented Light Stalking members presented this week, the POTW!

Photo of the Week

This refined piece of visual craft illustrates both concepts above. Decay is present all over the scene, and thanks to the means of photography, it gets aesthetically portrayed in a superb shot. Not only is the composition sublime, but the gentle process behind those soft tones is something to praise as well. But hey, look closer and find the undoubted resilience of color!

copyright – beth

Congrats beth, and thanks for sharing such a high-class photograph!

Weekly Photography Challenge Digest

Thanks, Tersha and Dahlia for pushing our creative boundaries one step forward every week!

Abandoned house in rural Southern Ohio.

copyright – Michael

rural Ohio

copyright – Pat Garrett

Old gangway for workers of the Mill to cross the water

copyright – Patrick
copyright – Pat Garrett

Before mobile phones …

copyright – Tersha
copyright – Click
copyright – Pat Garrett
copyright – Wendy P
copyright – Frogdaily
copyright – Tersha
copyright – Pat Garrett

idaho. the structure was still there 2 years ago, but it’s in a state of quick decline.

copyright – beth

montana. this one is gone. it had a nasty lean to it when i was out there. i don’t think it lasted another year.

copyright – beth
copyright – Patrick
copyright – Patrick
copyright – Rose Marie

I shot the decayed wall and flower growing in the verge but felt it needed something extra. As Banksy wasn’t available that day I created my own mural in Photoshop/Firefly and composited it in. Hope that’s OK. If not I’ll remove my post with apologies.

copyright – Heather S

Ghosts of the past – the hospital at Ellis Island (an island between lower Manhattan and Jersey City, NJ), the first stop for many immigrants.

copyright – Pat Garrett
copyright – Patrick


copyright – beth

and yet another find in north dakota. i have a lot of photos of the place for there being nothing up there.

copyright – beth

For more visual examples on decay and resilience, check out the 697th original challenge post!

A Highlight on the Latest Activity at our Community

Patrick shared this beautiful capture under the title “finders keepers”, an adequate title indeed!

copyright – Patrick

He also shared some creative photography on the theme “Shackled Dreams”:

copyright – Patrick

Elin shared this beautiful landscape photograph:

copyright – beth

Its raining cats and dogs here, been doing so all the month of May, luckily because the winter was very dry. Looking forward to June when summer arrives – the weather prophets have promised us an exceptionally good season and they are never wrong, are they?

Rob told us about a tragic event of him smashing his iPhone's which has a great little camera that he uses a lot. Some of us encouraged him to continue shooting with the wrecked device and use an older one as a mobile device. We hope he found a somewhat happy solution so he can continue sharing with us! He also shared this interesting test, I counted 35, and you?

Last but not least, if you want to make out the most of your LightStalking user account, make sure to check the latest posts. Also, don't forget to swim the Mobile Monday Challenge!

We'd Love To Hear Your Thoughts

Our Feedback Forum is a fine place for all those people wanting to grow fast as photographers. Here, you'll get your work reviewed by friendly photographers, but you'll also have the chance to comment on the work of others. We believe in the power of feedback, and here are the latest shots shared in the pool:

The Shark Tank is a great place to learn and to discuss, but please read the instructions in order to get a solid experience. Share your comments, opinions, and doubts on any or all of the images above. We also would be delighted to see some of your own images. Remember all comments are given to the photographs; not the photographers. Don't forget to participate in our current challenge on a single frame for generational portraits!

About Author

Federico has a decade of experience in documentary photography, and is a University Professor in photography and research methodology. He's a scientist studying the social uses of photography in contemporary culture who writes about photography and develops documentary projects. Other activities Federico is involved in photography are curation, critique, education, mentoring, outreach and reviews. Get to know him better here.

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