Monday, January 25, 2016

Hikihg up Mount Tuam. Choosing camera compositions

Another hike with a large group, this time in an ecological reserve at the south end of the island. We will hike up the rugged side of Mount Tuam and our leader says the hike will be 'shortened' because we cannot pass some trails when they are washed by streams too wide and deep for hopping across. We climb steeply up moss-covered rocky outcrops and through arbutus, cedar and fir forest. The sound of rushing water echoes up from the deep ravines that score the flanks of the mountain. We climb over and crawl under windfalls and wade through wet salal.

Finally we wander up to a spectacular falls that surges and crashes down a rocky, moss-covered cliff. Out comes my small camera ( I have stopped trying to carry my heavy expensive Nikon) and I try to catch the feeling. Falls are dramatic, but like any other subject matter one still works with the fundamentals of what the camera can best do technically and what I can think of in terms of camera angles. There are the safe and traditional ways and the more original ones. Here, I settle for some standard shots.

Later, and further up the mountain, I notice another photographer beside some interesting boulders snapping a photo of the group and turn and take his photo also. Later I will take another look at this snatched image and recognize that I have collected something of interest - to me at least. Unlike those at the falls, this one presents some unusual challenges. I have placed three forms side by side - boulder, boulder, man - , so there is a repeating, but broken pattern and the trees in the background provide a steady repetition of forms and textures. It is the assumption that the human figure is not the dominant subject, that it is shoved off to the side and seems ridiculous in its posturing in comparison to the enduring beauty of rocks and trees, that makes this image worthy of consideration. Something is being communicated that goes beyond the 'beautiful' and while I have my own ideas about what those may be ( including my own role as 'Photographer') this image is open to the individual interpretation of every viewer.

We look to the arts to provide a commodity (beauty), and usually that is conventional in subject matter and composition, but Art's other role is to provide questions and challenge our familiar assumptions. Usually we react with anger or rejection to any new ideas that upset our equilibrium so no wonder most art we see does not challenge but seeks to please.

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