Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A New Direction

Did you ever wake up in the middle of the night with this incredible revelation that may not represent your understanding of nature and the cosmos as a whole, but which apparently (at the time) has life-changing implications? Then you go back to sleep, and when you get up in the morning, you have no recollection of the thought, or you know there was something important but you can't remember what it was?

Of course you have. So you vow that next time, you'll write it down, and now you keep a pen and paper by your bedside just in case. Then you look at what you've written, and either you wrote it in Klingon and can't read it, or it says something nonsensical like, "Onions won't grow when the sky is yellow", or "Mimsy are the Borogroves, and the Slithy Toves did Gyre and Gimbal in the Wabe"?

I had one of those last night. I had my iPad beside me, so I grabbed it and wrote myself an email:

Backwards. Detail to simple

This time, I know what it meant. Now to try to put it in words that ordinary humans can understand.

I'm pretty sure I know what makes an outstanding image, at least in my vision today. That's not to say that I can make them regularly, but I understand what I'm striving for. The picture has to tell a story. And the viewer has to know what the subject is. But is that consistent with where I want my work to go?

In the past, I've talked about the "True North" concept in the blog. Not long ago, either (link), but I've been on that track for probably 15 years. Basically, everything you do should take you closer to your goal, not further away. But as I said, your goals are a moving target. I've had some eye-opening insights in the past couple of years, primarily due to my artist friend Rosa, but inertia makes it hard to match my actions with new directions. I'm probably not making sense here, but bear with me.

I love landscapes. Although I dabble in other directions, that's what makes my heart sing. The goal is to make every grain of sand, every twig tack-sharp. To that end, I'm picking up a D800 on Friday, to replace the D610. Nothing wrong with the D610, but 36 Mp! That's the right move for a landscape photographer. BUT... (that's a big 'but')

I'm beginning to realize that simple, not detailed, is the way I really want to go. I recently did this crop out of another image and will let it speak for itself:

I submitted this in an RHCC competition this week. I fully expect a low score, but if one judge likes it, it will be heartening. Doesn't really matter, it's MY vision. I've been asked what this is. Doesn't matter. Maybe it's an unseen comet's trail. Or an edge. Or something beginning. Or something dying. It's what YOU see. It's what it represents, not what it is.

So do I need a D800 to make images like this? No. Will it hurt? No. Except that it might take my focus away and entice me to shoot more complex landscapes. Do I think I can forego all other genres and only shoot these kind of images? No. Do I think I might be able to one day? I don't know.

My favourite graphic style is this simple: think back to some Olympic symbols where the sport is rendered by a few calligraphic strokes (maybe I should have been born Japanese. I love Haiku's too. Really wish I could draw...)

I've shot a few like this before: simple, tons of negative space.

Let's see where this goes.

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