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Seeing in 4x6s

“Photography is seeing only.”

Jurgen Schadeberg

LILY PADS
LILY PADS

I once read an interesting quote from a photographer who said that after a while he had a tendency to see the world as if he were looking through a 4×6 frame. I sometimes find myself doing the same thing. As any good photographer will tell you, photography is not so much about technique or equipment (although of course both are important), rather it’s about seeing/visualizing an image before creating it.

WATER LILIES
WATER LILIES

“A photograph is both a way of seeing and a way of remembering.”

John Rosenthal

In our challenge this week, Jen has asked us to think about the structure, the intimate detail of some “wonderful things”. I’ve chosen to highlight two captures I made last month in a beautiful garden outside of Santa Monica (above), as well as a study I did earlier this week of a glorious live oak not far from my home. In both cases nature has given us amazing examples of her finest artistry.

DETAILS
DETAILS

“I’ve found photography has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
Elliott Erwitt

Take, for example, a close look at the bark of this ancient live oak. Note how the lines run in parallel, how the colors change as your eye moves across the bark, and how the little leaves cling to their anchor hold.

TREES THROUGH TREES
TREES THROUGH TREES

“A photographer’s main instrument is his eyes.”

Manuel Alvarez Bravo

Now step back just a bit and see how the scene changes.ย Note the way the oaks bends and shapes itself due to the influence of the salt air surrounding it. See how it reaches beyond its own canopy to drink in the sunlight over the marsh.

TREE AND SWING
TREE AND SWING

“Photography with its unique realism gives me the power to go beyond the conventional ways of seeing.”

Wynn Bullock

Finally, see the bigger picture, a majestic example of graceful limbs that invite us to pause, to drink in the scenery and breathe the fresh air – perhaps even to have a swing from one of the sturdier branches.

Nature has a way of showing us the importance of detail, whether it be in the curve of an oak’s limbs, the color of a lily pad, or the heart of a flower.ย  The photographer’s challenge is first and foremost to be aware and become a part of his or her surroundings, and only then to capture and share the experience.

WPC: Structure

 

 

 

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94 thoughts on “Seeing in 4x6s Leave a comment

  1. You express it so well: “Nature has a way of showing us the importance of detail, whether it be in the curve of an oak’s limbs, the color of a lily pad, or the heart of a flower. The photographer’s challenge is first and foremost to be aware and become a part of his or her surroundings, and only then to capture and share the experience.” I often think of that line in The Color Purple when Alice Walker writes that the leaves and flowers dance to catch our attention. Have a great week.

  2. A wonderful post Tina but I particular congratulate you on the brilliant text you have written to accompany your chosen pictures. It speaks to the microcosm and the macrocosm that surrounds us all and encourages us to be aware of the smallest detail and the bigger picture. Memorable words to live by – thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Andrew, thanks so much for the beautiful compliment. (โ€œBrilliantโ€ may be just a bit strong but Iโ€™ll take it LOL). Your comment is equally well said ๐Ÿ˜Š >

  3. Adored the water lilies Tina, and both tree photos, the lilies are a most beautiful blue, and one just hinting at purple! A question for you – can I ask what lens you use for macro photography? I’m thinking of buying a macro lens and am looking at Tamron. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hey Jude ๐Ÿ˜€, thanks! Typically I just use my 70-200 f/2.8 Nikon lens and find it gets me close enough for what I want. I do have a set of extension tubes which are a much less expensive way to play around with macro. Hope that helps!

      >

      • You create some superb close ups with that lens Tina. I think I have some of those extension tubes, but I really fancy either the Sigma or Tamron macro lens. No birthday for a while yet though! ๐Ÿ˜Š

  4. Great response to the “structure” challenge. I once saw a documentary about David Lean ( director of Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago) I learned that he had started out as a film editor and when he moved to directing these he films he already had the edits in mind when he was still shooting. There were clips of him talking about certain scenes and how he could already see them on the screen. Seeing in 4×6 but expanded to the Big Screen.

  5. just wonderful captures in nature…u just have a GREAT eye…not to mention the words…love seeing life thru your lens๐Ÿ˜œ

  6. Love your interpretation of your surrounds, Tina. Can definitely see how that tree is bending over the marsh and veering towards sunlight, wanting to grow – so amazing to see that it moves with instinct. I think many of us are like that too when it comes to photography – see a scene, click it. You give sound advice there at the end, to take a moment to realise what’s happening around us, and then frame a shot. That’s how we share our experience, share a story, share a part of history – and maybe even the present and future – with the rest of the world. Take care and have a good week ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks Mabel – yes if you think about it, photography really does offer unique views of past, present and future. In SF last month we visited a photography exhibit of shots from the 1950s and 60s. It was really an interesting prospective of the times.

  7. I like the way you showed us the various aspects of the tree from all distances. I think the other thing the photographer has to do is decide how to present the details. Will it be a macro or something further away, emphasizing different things? What will be the focal point? By what we choose to show and highlight, we direct the attention of the viewer in a certain way, although they can, of course, always focus on something we didn’t intend.

    Glorious shots, Tina.

    janet

  8. Hello Tina-
    Beautifully woven structure between quotes, reflection, and photos!
    I see I’m not the only one who was moved by the quote:
    “The photographerโ€™s challenge is first and foremost to be aware and become a part of his or her surroundings, and only then to capture and share the experience.”

  9. You are so right! I now take much m ore time to consider a subject before I press that shutter.

    ” The photographerโ€™s challenge is first and foremost to be aware and become a part of his or her surroundings, and only then to capture and share the experience.”

    Your images are glorious and I love the story of the tree.

  10. Great structure images that evoke mood… and I totally agree about photography being about seeing/visualizing an image before creating it…
    My best photographic tools are my eyes and my brain, Tina!!

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