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Mar 05, 2022

i just point the camera


...nature provides the beauty.

in some ways, nature photography is easy. the beauty that we look for in art is right in front of us: form, lines, color palettes, contrast, composition, texture, flow, balance, movement.  these are the basics an artist learns when seeking to create a piece from scratch, starting with a blank canvas, page, stone.

whether landscape, wildlife or both, all of these elements are intrinsic to the scene. it is very clear to me that i don't create that, nor could i improve on the natural beauty i find in these places.

when first diving deeper into landscape photography, i, rather naively, thought i would get a high quality camera, go to beautiful places all around here, then send photos through a high quality printer to produce beautiful prints. 

so much for thinking. 

i've learned along the way that is only the front and back end of the creative process. much of the last 6 years has been devoted to learning about all the steps in between photo and print, requiring a deeper understanding of the digital format and building the needed skills.  other posts on this site go into some of these details.

one thing i've learned about the artistic process of photography is how to guide a photo through the digital/editing/printing process in a way that expresses the full beauty of that place and moment. that takes some skill. and put all together, this can result in a very vibrant, enriching creative process.

i've noticed a few analogies to this creative process.

a local doctor, ted merrill, after retirement, wrote his memoirs titled, i only bandage the wounds. he died shortly before i moved here. the book was self published, sold locally and disappeared quickly. it was very inspiring for me in my healing practice. ted put into words, very simply, what many elder doctors with a lifetime of experience come to appreciate: the body, mind, and spirit have an amazing ability to heal.  at best, even with all of our knowledge and technology, we can support what is inherent in the body.

with 40 years in my healing practice, i see this consistently, waking each day wondering how this healing/creative process will unfold.

it is humbling, on a daily basis, to observe.

another analogy comes from gardening.  my favorite part of gardening is watching those tiny little seeds transform into a sprout and grow. everything about that plant, from zucchini to oak tree, is contained in that small seed. nourished with water, soil and sun it can manifest it's full beauty. as a gardener, it's clear, i don't create that beauty, didn't pack that seed with what is needed.  i can nourish it along to it's full potential. i just water the soil.

i've come to a deeper appreciation of sculptors who describe their work as removing the pieces that don't need to be there, revealing the beauty within. it feels similar when editing photo images, playing with millions of digital zeros and ones, tweaking this and that to reveal the beauty already contained within.

the beauty seen in these photos is a natural aspect of this place where we live. it does take skill to nourish that toward a beautiful photo/print: where to be and when, qualities of light, perspective, background. recording it all and translating that to ink on paper. it is also humbling to be a part of that creative process.

when the process is complete and i look at a finished print that expresses the natural beauty within, it is quite obvious: i just point the camera.

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