01 March 2012
Note: Let me know which photograph is your favorite.
P.S.: The last image was taken with my (non-smart) cellphone, because my Nikon was being charged.
Composition is one of the key elements in photography–it has the ability to woo the viewer’s attention, cast an eye elsewhere, and/or cause confusion. This single force is as exacting as the other components of a stilled image. Once taken, the image is available for conversation, musing and scrutiny. In the darkroom and on the computer manipulation can alter the original intent–a crop here and there, a tonal shift here and there. This ability to redefine the original is a phenomenon that comes with the history of the photograph and the human animal’s inclination to get it just right. Still, composition can be singularly the cause for triumph or not.
While thinking about this element, I turned to patterns generated in our visual landscape–the seen and the unseen repetitions: angels, rhythms, shapes, symmetry, and textures that stare at us even if we ignore them. As important, nature provides limitless examples of this phenomenon that has been easily transferred into the human animal’s bag of tricks.
Then I began to ponder M.C. Escher’s amazing drawings–patterns at their most derivative. His art was exacting and shows the relationship of line to line, design to design, dark to light. He achieves illusion and perception with such pronouncement and skill. Talent naturally flowed from inside of him. During the winter holiday a friend gave me a spectacular book: M.C. Escher Pop-Ups (2011) by Courtney Watson McCarthy. To cast an eye on his work is to be awed. But this pop-up collection astounds, and brings yet another dimensions to Escher’s already dimension-filled art. The book takes an already 3-D effect and staggers the viewer with the added feature.
Example of Escher’s art:
Cover of the pop-up book:
The word “pattern” implies a repetitive element, but it also can be asymmetrical. While a chaotic design can force us to stare at its elements or turn away, it raises the question: are all patterns mathematical?
Enter fractals in nature. This mathematical discovery upended the chaos theory, making nature’s reiterations and unpredictability less so. The totality of a cloud or shell are examples of how mathematics is used in patterns that become smaller as they are repeated. When you tear off a piece of broccoli, that part looks much like the total head of the vegetable. (Benoit B. Mandelbrot coined “fractal” while working on the concept between 1977-1980.)
Here are examples from Mother Nature’s fractals:
Through the still image we can document human nature’s or nature’s capabilities to capture our attention. But do we always recognize the pattern and its substance: its place in daily life or its ability to spur other forms of creative energies?
Thanks to this blogging life I’m “following” others who have similar interests and passions. I am enriched by their art (whether literary or visual). For example, I’ve met Val Erde who lives in a small hamlet in Wales. Her work is lusciously vibrant, and pulls you into her compositions. PLEASE take a few minutes to view her blog at http://artbyvalerde.wordpress.com/ She combines original drawings and paintings with digital media to produce a sumptuous body of art. This work reminds me about the “patterned” world that encourages our own creativity, and instigates a personal vision. Thanks Val for sharing your work.
I continue to be intrigued by the precise or random patterns in my visual universe. Each pushes my abilities to still their effect upon me, and to capture their photogenic essence.
Note: As always I welcome comments about this post or any part of my blog.