Monday, August 26, 2013

The Photographer's Eye; thinking about John Szarkowski's book on the modernist movement and how it influenced photography.

Recently, after reading 'The photographer's Eye', I stepped outside to drink my coffee on the porch, looked up and then stepped right back to pick up my camera. Somehow I had absorbed not the text of this book, but the photographs, and was now seeing my world through that perspective. I had stepped through a thought-doorway and into a specific perception of the world.

The camera as we know it began when photochemistry was paired with the artist's camera obscura; the light proof box, the lens, the adjustable aperture, were able to project an image of the outside world onto the new invention, - a light sensitive emulsion on a removable glass plate which could later be made permanent. My Nikon D 60 is really a smaller version of the original cameras and a light sensitive array has replaced the light sensitive emulsion. Everything, though, from the past almost two hundred years of photography is still instructive for me now. Technically for sure, but also directly from the minds of the photographers whose images I saw in the book earlier that morning. For a visual mind, learning is direct, without the side trip through written text. I do not have to have it explained to me, I understand it in a flash.

Perhaps then, when I looked up into the maple tree, saw the profusion of leaves, the fan- shaped spreading branches and the white clouds passing overhead I simply saw it as it would look framed in a specific relationship of tree and sky, and printed in black and white. The starkness and simplicity, the selection of part to represent the whole, created a symbol of that moment of high summer, of lush growth combined with the fleeting feeling of late summer.

.The angle of view was important for me here, I brought this element from my own fascination with finding original perspectives and new structures; there are so many follow-the-leader images around that only fresh seeing will interest me. “Look up, look way up, but by all means look.”, has become my battle cry.

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