Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Honing Perception

I am a photographer.  I'm also an artist and what I would term....a "Professional Creative".  I can not NOT create.....it is always going on in my head or being expressed through the various projects, clients, or artistic mediums I'm involved in.  One area is always giving me inspiration for another and it all seems interlocked someway.   It has taken some time, but I've finally come to the understanding everyone does not experience life this way.  I realize now that uniqueness is my strength for it is the driving force which fuels the passion that is so apart of me....the passion to create.

Perception is defined as...  the immediate or intuitive recognition ...appreciation of aesthetic (and other) qualities;  an insight, intuition, or discernment.   Look at these two images for a moment and consider what you see.....

Both of these were taken while on an outing to an area known as the Pawnee National Grasslands in NE Colorado.

In what ways are they similar or...are they similar at all?  Are you drawn to one more than the other and if so, why?

To me, these images are the same.  They both stir within me a since of amazed awe and appreciation. 

I know, I know......I can hear the scoffing even now and I haven't even posted this yet.   Just read a bit more and then make up your mind.

Whether you are a fan or not of the Western US landscape, you can not help but have a sense of awe when standing at the base of one of these geologic formations as in the first image.  The mass, height, isolation...they all combine at once as you begin to contemplate the enormity of time and natural forces it took to create what stands before you.  Even in the relatively boring light at the time this was taken I knew I would have to make the finale image express the grand awareness of history residing in this butte  and my own feeling of pride in being able to share it first hand.  That is why I processed it to look like this......

So, you say.....what does that have to do with a bunch a bails of hay?  Glad you asked.   In the image of the hay bails, you are seeing only a fraction of a fraction of the scene.  We were driving through literally 1000's of acres of farmland at the time.  This stack of bails was only one of several across the landscape and it struck me as I drove closer, how they appeared so similar to a child's building blocks, semi-scattered across the floor.  For all of the effort and toil it had taken this farmer to  plow, and seed, and harvest all this space....his efforts seemed frail and easily tossed when compared to "room" in which laid.   I was awed at the contrast.  I was awed with the effort.  I was awed with how small I felt as I walked across the rows and rows of dried, stubble stalks in that field.  I knew I had to relate in the finale image the sense of space, contrast, toil and enjoyment I was experiencing.  That's why I processed it to look like this.....

Sometimes immediate....sometimes intuitive....train yourself to recognize the indicators.  Sometimes all the pieces of a great scene will be in front of you...waving....saying..."Here I am...Take my picture".  Other times you have to look for it a bit.  But as you learn to hone your perception, the images that move you will line up before you waiting to be captured.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Searching for More Than Pretty

I got into photography as a result of my love of the great outdoors.  I've always loved to hike and explore...search out new places.  I started taking images to help illustrate some of the trails I had grown to love. The idea I thought was to make them pretty.  I believed at that early stage pretty equated to better, so I strived for the "glamor shots" of trails and nature.  Flawless images which would somehow heighten the beauty of the places I loved and would cause others to fall in love with them as I had.  However, my limited skills and equipment didn't really allow for much in the way of a "glamor" edit.

As time went on and I was exposed to more and more images from people all over the world, I began to understand and appreciate other takes on what was beautiful.  I started to understand the beauty I was seeing was coming as much from the way others had captured their subject as the subject its self.  I began looking for images that expressed this active connection of photographer and subject....this dialogue of emotion that seemed almost audible at times.  As I looked back on my photographs I realized the void of emotion within them and how desperately they needed to express a part of me.

Now that I'm older, my times out hiking are more about getting away, than to something.  I have the camera to thank for that.  I find I'm taking my time more....observing more.....imagining more.  When I come across a scene like the one above, I understand more of why it causes me to pause.  For me it is not just a beautiful forest/meadow scene.....it is this beautiful dance of strength  and softness....of darkness and light.  The beautiful purity of snow...the contrast of dying brown and living green.  The magical softness the light seems to bring to even the roughest bark.  And those are just the things I'm seeing.  When combined with the smells of pine and the sound of wind through the branches, my mind is a rush of memories...both real and imagined.  Times of fort building, hide and seek and a hundred other times of play for a boy growing up in the country.

This is the kind of beauty I have come to love in the images of others.  A beauty that testifies of emotions and experiences they themselves have experienced or can at least understand.  A beauty that is expressed beyond the subject matter and a passion emerges that is inescapable.

When I come across a scene like the one above....sure, I want the natural beauty of what is there to linger.  But I also long for others to catch a glimpse of the other beauty I know resides there.  Sometimes it sings...sometimes it's sadness....but it always speaks of life, of love, of sharing and of passing.  It may not always be pretty but it sure is beautiful...at least to me.