" Photography Beyond The Equipment: Personal Views"
By exhibiting members of the "Patterns In Nature" Photography Exhibit
Presented by Samer Alassaad
The experience of Photography does not end when the image is captured, processed or printed; it sometimes can be the beginning of a long lasting experience. We generally do not share with others what we completely think of and feel about our own images. We always have views that we keep to ourselves of the scene and the way we are presenting it. The emotional aspect of photography in particular is the least discussed among photographers and their viewers. The purpose of this program was to explore the emotional experiences photographers go through when they capture their images and when they view them afterwards. The photographs discussed had a theme of patterns in nature, which may not be the best theme to address emotionally, but it definitely made it more challenging to express the feelings associated with such a graphic theme.
Each photographer was asked the following questions:
- What has that particular scene meant for the photographer?
- What emotions has it provoked?
- What is he/she trying to convey?
- How does he/she think capturing this image can make a difference in the world?
The participating photographers expressed their personal views of their images beyond the rules of composition and techniques, other attending members also commented on each photograph. At the end of our discussion, the conclusion was that the subject being photographed plays a major role in whether the photographer experiences emotions during capturing the image or not. In this particular theme, most of the photographers did not experience any emotions when they captured the image; instead, they were attracted to the elements of design. Some of the photographers experienced emotions when they viewed their images afterwards, and others only thought about the idea of experiencing emotion when they were asked to present at this meeting. Those who planned in advance to photograph their particular scene had more chance to experience emotions while capturing their image.
I want to thank all the photographers who made this program possible. I hope that we continue exploring this aspect of photography with other themes so we may further enrich our photographic experience. Below you will find the images and each photographer's personal views.
President, The Photography Club of Davis
Sand dunes impress me with their curving lines, rough textured surfaces and
Before I went to Death Valley, I had a plan in my mind to look for something so pure and untouched. Finding myself surrounded by dunes that consist of a single element of existence urged me to drop everything, and pay more attention to the things that really matter. It made me appreciate life in its simple forms, in spite of the complexity of the sand dunes lines and textures. With wind as their continuous life source, the dunes are always young, but they are never the same.
The curving lines of shadows are soothing. The interplay of harshness and softness of the desert life is fascinating. The harshness of the sun and the dunes texture contrast with the softness of their shadows. However, the harshness of their texture is misleading, in reality they are very soft and gentle - the moment they are touched. Those prominent light and shadow areas represent the two most conflicting symbols of life: Lightness and Darkness; with the thin edged ridge of sand as the hair line that separates good and evil, joy and sadness, love and hate, etc……..
It is hard to feel loneliness in such an environment; it is the solitude and serenity we are indeed after.
This clam siphon is an example of the beauty that is hidden in our oceans. In the deep blue waters, red light does not penetrate, so objects underwater appear brown and dull. There is a magical excitement in discovering the colors and details that are revealed only after the photograph is printed. I hope to portray the ocean's hidden beauty for people who may never get a chance to see this other world first hand.
Emotions and visual language
I primarily look for story content. Saying that I sometimes mean a literal story, not about the "reality" of the thing, but much more about what the thing is not. I fall in love with making things look like what they are not. But there is another story quality that I am much more interested in and that is the story that other people tell themselves. So the mis-directional cues in a picture intrigue me, it looks like this but it is really that. There is this non-verbal zone where I drop into when I am looking and seeing. I am looking for shapes and forms that in isolation take away scale and reference. They are just familiar enough that other people will see suggestions of their
own experiences and will make a story of what the picture is. I find this delicious and wonderful. It is like a mystery, the question of "what is this, really?" is the definition of success for me.
While traveling through the Algadones Dunes area I stopped to do some photography of the sand dunes. While in the middle of this vast expanse of sand I noticed a small segment of life occurring in the dunes. A beetle leaving his trail while traveling near the only plant life I could see for miles in any direction. It seemed as if the beetle sensed the plant’s presence but was not able to get a bead on the best direction to take in order to get to the plant. His trail wandered in several directions and seemed as if he would never find the plant.
I saw humor in the scene. Endless sand, a small beetle looking for refuge (I presumed) in the plant sticking up thru the sand nearby. The beetle’s path was such that it seemed hopeless that he would ever find the plant and was therefore doomed to wander. It is natural selection at work.
I am trying to convey a simple snapshot of life in the sand dunes. The sand ripples caused by wind, the beetles tracks in a searching pattern and the plant alone in the dune, seeming to be the refuge where the beetle was headed, but could not find.
I can only hope that the viewer will stop every now and then and notice the detail in the world around them. That the smaller world around their feet and within arm’s reach can have fascinating scenes and views of life’s activities that will give them a better appreciation for their own lives and the paths they choose.
On a trip to photograph fall colors in New England, a friend and I visited Acadia National Park in Maine. On a beach there I noticed some nice design details on a piece of driftwood, and took some photos. The design elements were pleasing to me in their juxtaposition of movement with balance, which I think are at the heart of interesting photographs. I'm not sure this photograph will make any difference in the world, except possibly by causing a fleeting aesthetic enjoyment, and perhaps a greater appreciation of the beauty in nature.
I am attracted to pattern of petals that the image of the California Buckeye flower bud at the UCD Arboretum had. But it also had two other qualities that made it interesting to me. One was the beautiful yellowish and red hues the petals had. This is also a color combination, i.e. pattern, I have seen in nature before. The other and more intriguing type of pattern was that that I could imagine the shape of a shark and even the defect in one of the petals appeared as its eye. Nature seems to repeat itself in many ways, not just in multiplication of the same geometric patterns (which is beautiful in itself), but also can repeat patterns of colors (which is pleasing to the eye), and mimic other life forms in nature (which is fascinating).
This is a simple pleasing composition. I like the motion created by the light playing on the structure of the frond and the shredding of the leaves in the frond. It is reminiscent of a breaking wave or the sweeping hand movements of a dancer. I look at it in another way and I see fireworks exploding from the lower right corner. If this brings a smile to any ones face then it has served a purpose.
Photography, for me is about simplifying the complex. It is about taking everything that there is in our world, and selecting just one scene, one frame, and presenting that to the world in a way that makes sense, or conveys a message. Sometimes we show a repeating pattern, sometimes we use light to highlight what we want to show. Sometimes we crop down, or burn and dodge, but whatever tools we use, we simplify, separate, condense and present. In this photo, the light was dynamic, but filtered. It was otherwise a sunny day, just north of where the 505 hits the 5, except for the massive storm cloud above and behind this particular field. I wanted so this beautiful sunflower field in this very dynamic environment, and while the repeating patterns of the sunflower tops was pleasing, it seemed too busy. I decided to use depth of field to isolate just one sunflower among thousands to be the focus. Like catching the eye of someone walking passed you on a crowded and busy street, this photograph allows you to "see" this one sunflower. To catch its eye, while still getting an overall feel for sense of place. I call this photo "Portrait of a sunflower".
To me it means you can find beauty in almost anything. As I recall, this was a potted plant we had at home and I didn't see any attractive photos when looking at the whole thing. Background was furniture, no flowers and really very plain. So I tried a soft focus on a small part of two leaves. I was very happy with the results. It gave me a quiet, peaceful feeling, a feeling of Calmness. My message here is that "Simple" is good. I hope it will make people who take the time to look at it slow down a little.
I enjoy landscape photography and when I'm out taking photographs, I try to see the whole picture, including details. After I saw the large trees and ferns in this grove of redwoods, I started to notice each individual leaf. This grouping caught my attention. For me it's an interesting part of the whole forest, but a part that can stand on its own. I think the "emotion" I feel when looking at it is "conflict". There's conflict within each leaf because of the sharp color changes and there is conflict or competition between the leaves. Maybe "tension" is a better term. Some of the tension may result from the fact that the leaves are lined up but they don't look very orderly. I was trying to capture the beauty in nature. Even decay can be beautiful. If someone enjoys seeing it, it will give them a moment of pleasure and maybe encourage them to get out and see things like this in the real world.