Tag Archives: Guy Tal

Nebulous Residue

White Trees, Series 3, No.3

White Trees, Series 3, No.3

An artist cannot endure reality; he turns away or back from it: his earnest opinion is that the worth of a thing consists in that nebulous residue of it which one derives from colour, form, sound, and thought; he believes that the more subtle, attenuated, and volatile, a thing or a man becomes, the more valuable he becomes: the less real, the greater the worth.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

I wish I could say I can take credit for this quote because I came across it in context, but the truth is I came across it on the Facebook Page this morning of one of my favorite photographers, Guy Tal.  If you like thinking deep thoughts about photography, I highly recommend his blog.

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Stifle Your Incredulity

Eventually, the Trees Give Way to Rock Mount Goliath, Colorado, 2015

Eventually, the Trees Give Way to Rock
Mount Goliath, Colorado, 2015

I am not a deep thinker.  No really, stifle your incredulity, it’s true.  If you want to read some deep thoughts on photography, go check out Guy Tal’s photography blog.

Still, you don’t need to be a deep thinker to practice photography in a thoughtful way.  Being thoughtful can take many forms – thinking about why you photograph, thinking about what you hope to accomplish, thinking about what others are doing and where you fit in to the tradition of photography.  The list is potentially limitless, and I suppose the difference is that of photographing within some kind of personally relevant context versus photographing in random, directionless ways or for external motivations or validations.

I sometimes wonder why I still write this photography blog, given that it does not seem to have achieved the goals I set out for it when I started (a topic I’ve touched on now and again in other posts).  Earlier today it occurred to me that, if nothing else, it’s been a tangible manifestation of my own thoughtfulness as it relates to the practice of photography.  Interesting reading for myself, if not for (or if only for a few) others.

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Photographs as Art

Twisted Trees Triptych No. 1

Twisted Trees Triptych No. 1

One of my favorite observations about photography goes something like this:

“A photograph shows you what you would have seen if you had been there, a work of art shows you what you would not have seen but for the artist showing it to you.”

This observation is not mine, though I don’t recall exactly where I came across it (maybe on Guy Tal’s excellent photography blog?).  Still, after writing my immediately prior post on the art of photography, this insight has been on my mind all week and I’ve remembered just how much I think it perfectly cuts to the core of why photography can be art.

Anyone can point a camera at a subject and make a photograph that, more or less, approximates what the subject looked like when the shutter was tripped.  Indeed, as mentioned last week, the technical aspects of camera operation are so user-friendly these days that it’s increasingly hard, if not impossible, to stand on technical prowess as the basis for artistic merit in a photograph.

However, even today not very many people can point a camera at a subject and produce an image that reveals something not readily apparent from otherwise having been there.  Those who think photography is all about cameras and software (or darkrooms) miss this point entirely, and probably betray an even more fundamental understanding about what constitutes art and what does not.  It’s the successful communication of the artistic idea from the artist to the audience that constitutes art, not the nature of the tools that effect the communication.

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All Quiet…

Layered Clouds Over the Front Range. Near Johnstown, Colorado, 2012.

Layered Clouds Over the Front Range.
Near Johnstown, Colorado, 2012.

Things are pretty quiet on the photography front these days.  As mentioned in previous posts, I spent a fair amount of time in June, July, and August photographing in Rocky Mountain National Park.  For the first time in a long time, I feel somewhat spent with landscape photography.  We’ve had some dazzling skies here in Colorado over the last week or so, the kind that normally would have me grabbing my camera and heading out to explore, but I just haven’t been moved to do so, and so I’ve let them pass.

I have a photographer friend who analogizes creativity to the cycles of the land.  Sometimes you reap, sometimes you sow, and sometimes you let the fields lie fallow.  Perhaps it’s time to let the fields lie fallow for awhile.

Lately, I’ve been reading the blogs of photographers Valerie Millett and Guy Tal.  I really admire their ability to link up words and photographs.  I’ve always approached photography as a visual exercise, trying to translate my perceptions of the world onto paper.  At least, I thought that this was my approach.  Maybe it’s been more about translating my feelings about the world onto paper.  Or, if it hasn’t, maybe it should be.  I’m not sure if this is the best image I’ve ever captured, but it may best capture how I feel right now: small, hopeful, and a bit uneasy about the future.

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