Art Of Discovery

 

Photography offers us new ways of seeing – and being.

 

Photography is an invitation to look, to look more deeply, and to look in new ways.

I feel as if a magic trick has been performed every time I see a photograph that shows me more than I saw. Resonance in Blue & Gold is one of those photographs. I saw the rain on the water, but the patterns were too fast and complex for me to take in all at once. The photograph holds them still so I can spend more time with them. With each viewing my awareness grows. We are told that the camera sees the way we see and while there are many similarities, the camera also sees very differently.

I missed my top-selling shot, the first time. I was deeply impressed with the wave of light that washes across the earth every morning, transforming it continually. But the images I was making were not what I was looking for. I was thinking in single rather than many moments. Once I changed my way of thinking I found a new way of seeing. I shifted my focus from seconds to hours and from single exposures to multiple exposures and arrived at this image, Oriens. There’s hope. Lots of hope. We can learn to see differently.

What we see changes what we know. What we know changes what we see. Accustomed to the motion blur found in long low-light exposures, photographers ask me, “How did you shoot this?” Familiar with the patterns of stars, astronomers ask me, “Where did you find these constellations?”  To overcome technical challenges, I had shot by day and color adjusted to simulate night – and then I rendered stars to look the way the human eye sees them, but placed them in a random pattern. Depending on what they know, viewers react differently. I try to see in many ways simultaneously.

Sometimes it’s surprising what people say about your images. I’ve collected more responses to this image than any other. While some interpretations diverge wildly – ceremonial figures, dancing birds, musical instruments – on the whole, impressions center around breath. The title is Exhalation. Once I learned to listen flexibly, I felt comforted to know that the essence of my message had been communicated. We all see differently. That’s wonderful. And, we can share those visions. That’s wonderful too.

I find this image supremely challenging – because of other people’s reactions to it. In front of this image, dozens of people have shared personal stories of loss. When I made this image, I wasn’t aware of the theme of loss; I was totally absorbed in making the image. Now, when I see Inhalation , it’s almost impossible for me not to think of loss, though I can still see much more than that. What we communicate adds new dimensions to our own and each others’ experiences. Art connects us in unique ways.

Making images takes me on a journey. My motivation for creating of the first image in my series Reflection was to suggest a state of unusual calm by showing clear reflections in waters so calm not a single ripple or distortion could be found. As the body of work developed, a progression in the character of what was reflected revealed itself – from calming, to clearing, to illumination. This happened inside me too. It’s rewarding to see how the things we create both reflect and reshape our inner states.

What I don’t know makes things more interesting. Years after making this image, Sounding I, I couldn’t remember whether I had captured the snow photographically or rendered it digitally. So I challenged myself to try and figure it out without looking at the file. Not knowing has called me to look more closely at this image, other people’s images, and nature. My perception of the world has been enriched because of uncertainty and asking a lot of questions.

 

Photography is an invitation to look, to look more deeply, and to look in new ways.

 

The creative process is the art of discovery.

 

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