Seeing the forest and the trees…

My Photo Heart Connection for October

October was about surprising myself — seeing new paths emerge, taking turns I didn’t plan in advance, moving in new directions, going with a certain flow that felt right…

I’ve been playing with longer exposures, intentional camera movement and making composite images. I’ve diverged from looking mostly close up with my camera to trying to capture bigger vistas. I departed from taking only candid people shots and even did my first formal portrait sitting.

As I’ve experimented more with my camera and with post-processing I’ve made some unexpected and important discoveries.

Ever since I began taking photography seriously a few years ago, I’ve been striving to simplify my images and distill them to their essence.

I generally turn away from photos — my own and others’ — that are busy and cluttered, because they leave me with a feeling of unease and not knowing where to look. Instead I gravitate to — and try to create — images that are sparer and stronger in composition, where the extraneous has been eliminated.

I know that what I have been drawn to in photographs is a clarity of vision, almost a purity, as well as a sense of¬†serenity, balance and even a certain restfulness. This has meant that many of my own images have featured a restrained colour palette — only one or two colours — or very soft, muted, desaturated analogous tones.

Now, none of this was done consciously: I only realized that this was common to my favorite images while taking Kat Sloma’s Find Your Eye online course recently. Here’s an image that illustrates what I mean.

So I didn’t expect to feel a strong affinity for the image of the trees at the top of this post. It doesn’t have any of the characteristics I usually love. It is quite colourful, it is very detailed, and there is no obvious subject. It is certainly not minimal, although it does feel a bit magical to me.

But a few months ago, I would have just discarded it without much thought. Now though, something in it keeps me coming back to look more deeply. Something connects. The image is clearly speaking to me, but what is it saying?

I’m still reflecting on this.

Maybe I am less overwhelmed by the idea of making an image that is complex and intricate but also clear and strong visually.

Or at a deeper more metaphorical level, I wonder if I was I seeking to focus on the forest in my photography because I feared getting lost in the trees? Maybe I now appreciate that the forest is made up of trees.

Whatever is going on, it does seem that my eye is changing. Maybe my vision is expanding. Maybe my preferences and ways of approaching the world are not set in stone forever, even now. Maybe I am realizing that I can shift and change and flow, and that that will be true as long as I live.

I’d love to know if you’ve surprised yourself lately…

Note: I use Kim Klassen’s textures all the time and love them. Sharing this with Texture Tuesdays.

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33 thoughts on “Seeing the forest and the trees…

  1. And I am excited to see your beautiful blog as well. I want to spend some time there…I do feel called to move back and forth from the general to the particular — I love both. I guess it’s like people, you love someone as a whole but you also adore their little quirks. I would encourage you to take one of Kat Sloma’s classes. I don’t know of anyone who has not come out of the experience with a deeper understanding of themselves and their eye.

  2. You have given me food for thought, Sherry. I have been making a conscious choice to move back wider occasionally, because I am so attracted to the details and tend to zoom in on them. One of the wonders of photography has been how many of the little details I notice now. But I am also attracted to the simple, more compositionally strong images as you stated. Your ideas were expressed so well! And your tree photo is beautiful. I have thought of taking Kat’s class- and after reading your post I may do that. And I definitely want to read more of your blog- so glad I found you today!

  3. Pingback: Heaps of Awesome Photography Links to Waste Your Weekend With!

  4. How poetic you always are, Currie! It is quite astounding what we can learn when we really contemplate the difference between looking and seeing and when we seriously examine our preconceived notions…

  5. I find it inspiring to read how other photographers understand the evolution of their own eye and creative preferences. I’m glad you enjoyed my thoughts on the subject.

  6. Yes, what you say resonates with me too. Our photography is inextricably linked to who we are and how we relate to the world. I’m glad the photo made you feel wrapped in warmth. That was how I felt when I was there!

  7. And there are SO many new things to try! I certainly haven’t mastered ICM either but it opens up a lot of new creative possibilities…Thanks for your comment, Barb.

  8. Beautiful image. The deep orange and reds drew me deeper into it, make me want to step towards all that color. I love the photo and your questions.

  9. Sherry, this post is just delicious!! I love that you’ve gone deep and translated your heart’s song into one I can hear. there is something about all that you’re sharing that feels so encouraging to me, that gives me a gentle yet persistent nudge toward diving deeper and seeing what I discover.

    love the forest and trees BEcause it makes me reflect on how I am often seeing when I don’t even know I am looking. or NOT seeing BEcause I think I am looking when really I am just thinking about looking.

  10. This is a very important post to see, not just for the incredible photograph you have posted, but also for the profound insights you have shared here! I have come away with having learned a little about myself in the process of enjoying your post here today, Sherry, thank you so much!

  11. What a lovely image, and even more lovely thoughts…you are talented in both your writing and your photography. It has been interesting to watch my photos evolve in the last two years as I’ve taken photos, and to see a certain “style” develop in both my perspective and my editing process. Thank you for sharing with us!

  12. Photography is a pure thing and so precious every time we take a shot we are preserving a moment in time and I think with constant practise and evaluation a thread does appear and we can see our photographing evolving…

  13. I think photography captures the world around us and slows it down so we can see more clearly. We can keep coming back to the same scene, as you do with this lovely photo. It’s heartwarming to hear your story of how you’re growing and appreciating life through your photography!

  14. Such a great connection…as we go along, as I go along, I am finding that it is inevietable as my vision and technique’s change so will my photography. I have found myself taking alot of impressionistic photos of reflections and also camera movement. I am wondering too, if that has anything to do with the changing light and seasons. Beautiful photo, one that makes me feel wapped in warmth.

  15. Isn’t it always nice to try new things, really makes the creative process so wonderful. I also have tried the ICM but really haven’t mastered that yet but it was fun to try. Your image is perfect fall.

  16. beautifully written Sherry. You summed it up perfectly and I am nodding as I read this particular summation, “I am realizing that I can shift and change and flow…”
    That demonstrates you are growing, whether it’s simply in your photography or whether it’s as a person as a whole. Either way, it’s a fine shift and a healthy one for you. [hands clapping]

  17. Hello Sherry, it sounds to me as if you are going with the flow and following your heart. The image of the autumn trees gives off a feeling of peacefulness with just a hint of mystery!

  18. Beautiful Sherry! You are so aware to notice and ponder these changes. There is an almost expectant feel to your observation and your words… a gentle welcoming and excitement of what is coming next. I can’t wait to see how this all goes for you! Thanks for joining in the Photo-Heart Connection. So glad to have you!

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