Day 17- Nature Photography

Berries 17/365
Texture thanks to una cierta mirada

When I was 13, I attended a fancy photography summer workshop in Maine. In one exercise, we put our favorite photograph from our portfolio on a table, and each student was to choose their favorite from the pile and say why they liked it. At the end, mine remained alone and unchosen. It was a crystal sharp picture of a wood duck, floating on pristine baby blue water. Perfectly executed, pretty, and completely “unartistic”.

“Wow, it’s so perfect“, the class TA said of it- with disparaging emphasis on the perfect. Perfect was not good. Before this exercise, we had gone around in a circle discussing our favorite photographers. Everyone, other than me of course, had chosen the freak photography of Diane Arbus. This was the early ’90’s, a time of grunge, and grit, and darkness- there was no place for pretty wood ducks.

Perhaps it was a little disingenuous for young teenagers, from families privileged enough to send them to an expensive photo-camp, to feel a visceral connection with photographs of prostitutes. This, apparently, was a question I was only asking myself. Nature photography resonated with me because this was something I saw and appreciated in the world around me, and so I captured it with my lens as well as my eye.

This remains, however, an interesting question. Is representational photography art, if all you’re doing is capturing the image of something that is already beautiful in its own right? As someone who still loves nature and landscape photography, I believe it is. I believe that by isolating one moment out of the world, and immortalizing it, you are putting something beautiful and precious into a form that can be conveyed to, and appreciated by, others. And that is art enough for me. But, I am sure there are many places where a beautiful duck photograph would still be left on the table- unpicked and unloved.

All this rambling is because I took some photos of sparrows today while waiting for my friend for lunch outside of work. Since they were dimly lit in the bushes, the pics were grainy and not super-sharp- so I made them into “arty” nature pics- ah the power of photoshop that was not available to me in the 90’s. In those days, Sepia toning your pics with an extra chemical was the height of innovation. Perhaps these would have been chosen by the precocious 13 year olds, they are certainly not “perfect”.

(Running update, 4 miles, no watch so no pace, a LOT of knee pain šŸ˜¦ )

Textures by SkeletalMess (DeathSlab3 and PaintedCanvas1)

You lookin at me?
Texture by una cierta mirada

5 responses to “Day 17- Nature Photography

  1. You write very well too… šŸ™‚ I would have probably picked your duck. I like taking pictures of everyday ordinary things and making them beautiful and/or artsy. I’ve taken a lot of pictures of things in the grocery store, my desk at work (during lunch of course) and just the other day I took a picture of the bottom of my milk glass that I had just finished. šŸ™‚ I will be back to check your stuff. Good luck on your project. I can’t believe I’m over half way done with my year. Time flies when you’re having fun!

  2. Hi there. Thanks for visiting my blog and for your comments! I love the photo and agree with Jan. You’re a wonderful writer, too. šŸ™‚ I’ll be checking back. Good luck with your project!

  3. Now that I see them all again here, I like the second one on this page the best. All great shots, though, don’t get me wrong.

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