Seeing in 4x6s
“Photography is seeing only.”
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.
“A photograph is both a way of seeing and a way of remembering.”
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.
“I’ve found photography has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.”
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.
“A photographer’s main instrument is his eyes.”
Manuel Alvarez Bravo
Now step back just a bit and see how the scene changes. 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.
“Photography with its unique realism gives me the power to go beyond the conventional ways of seeing.”
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. 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.