Spirit Grooves Blogs
Expressing Impressions through Photography

Published on July 17, 2013

For me close-up photography is always a challenge to express the impressions (and experiences) I have when I look at nature. A photo I am happy with is one that gives the impression I have of, let's say, a misty morning at first light, not only what I see, but also what I feel. And that impression is meant to be a doorway to the experience I had when I took the photo that left its impression. Anyway, that's what I wish to convey.

I am impressed by the grandeur of the natural world, especially the spaciousness of those perfect small worlds at the close-up and macro level, like the my imagined impressions of a being the size of an insect, the sheer spaciousness and emptiness of nature surrounding them. Perhaps my day-to-day life is not empty or spacious enough (I know it's not). Anyway, I delight in the space that these small worlds provide.

My photographic technique has been a long and often tortuous path that has involved learning patience and the discipline of practice. If I did not get something out of peering through a crystal-clear lens at nature, I would not be doing it. For me, photographing nature is a meditation practice in itself. It is its own reward, regardless of how the photos turn out. My weakest area is finishing photos. I tend to leave them somewhat unfinished. I just don't care. Indeed, for me they are but impressions, like the impressions in the grass in these lines by Yeats:

"The grass cannot but keep the form,
Where the mountain hare has lain.

That is what I mean by "impressions." These impressions, these photos, are not an end in themselves (not just something to look at passively), but are meant to take me out of myself not only visually, but also experientially. For me, a good photo (like vertigo) thrusts me beyond its two dimensions out into the actual experience that the impression came from. Impressions are sensual and always lead or point to an experience. Impressions are the residue of experience.

I should add that I consider all writing and language, including the language of photography, to be simply a reference or pointer from itself to a life experience we can have, and not just something in itself – a photo. In my opinion, a photographic impression should bring release and a sense of space and beauty. Photographers know this.

My photographic vision is of a clear dream, meaning a photo with some extreme clarity or resolution (something in extreme focus), if only to send the message that anything not clear is intentional. These little islands of stacked focus are my reality check, and there often is more than one focus point in a stacked photo. That which is not in focus in the image paints an impression, a gesture to the imagination as to the dream-like nature of the reality we live in.

In other words, I include the areas of sharp focus to state that what we see is real and then have the bokeh (blurred areas) to remind me that all of this is also just a dream we are having, an impression. I am impressed by natural beauty and I like sharing those impressions through photography when I can. I am impressed, and that impression is what I want to see in the photos I take, an impression that beckons the viewer to an experience, to their taking the plunge into the very sense of it, to be drawn into the actual stuff which caused the impression in the first place. Call it a reminder. A good photo brings increased awareness.

So, a photo to me is an impression, a reference or pointer beyond itself to an experience available to us in that instant of seeing. Aside from their informational value, snapshots don't interest me. A picture of a flower can be just that. I look for more than that in an image.

To get my attention, a photo must be a link beyond two-dimensions into three or more dimensions. It must render out an experience that I cannot avoid, perhaps reminding me of what is always just beyond the confines of my daily grind. A good photo brings awareness beyond where I am at the moment of viewing it. I am transported, despite myself, into a larger reality from which I return refreshed. I remember in that instant something of what life is all about.

In my opinion, this is the function of art.

[Photo taken with the Nikon D800E, Zeiss 135mm APO, Zerene Stacker.]