It’s often said the photographers and painters have eyes trained to see things in a different way. Author David K. Leff takes that philosophy and applies it to the printed page. For years, he’s been pointing out the oft overlooked and the deeper stories behind the places we pass, often without a second thought.
“A lot of people work to develop skills,” Leff said. “No one thinks looking is a skill but it is.”
His latest book, “Hidden In Plain Sight,” continues that theme and bears the fruit of some of what Leff has found.
In it he writes about a myriad of subjects such as the old milestones — actual stone mile markers still found on some roadsides but likely overlooked by most.
In other cases he delves into the curious, telling us, for example about those odd Quonset Huts found scattered throughout the state and beyond.
Other chapters deal with fading traditions, such as drive-in theaters.
Road cuts, stone lookouts, diners, roadside rock art and camp meetings are just a few of the other topics covered in the book.
About 70 percent of the book is expanded essays that originally appeared in the Hartford Courant over the last 15 years.
Leff spent about 2 years pulling the material together, expanding it and writing new chapters.
For those living close to Leff in the Farmington Valley there are plenty of references to the familiar, such as Tulmeadow Farm in Simsbury, Hogan’s Cider Mill in Burlington, the “drum” rock in Canton and reconverted barns on Main Street in Farmington.
“Hidden in Plain Sight” is Leff’s fifth book, two of which are poetry and three non-fiction.
Leff doesn't consider this latest book as history, art, human behavior or nature, although it contains all those elements.
"I like connections among diverse phenomena," he said.
The book also contains a guide to help people look at things in a new light.
“You really have to train yourself to look at things carefully,” Leff said. “Otherwise you miss a lot.”
More information can also be found at the publisher‘s Web site, Wesleyan University Press.
Read more about Leff and read some of his writings at www.davidkleff.com.