two whites amongst the blue

Here’s the photo of the month from jgrantmac (click on the photo to enlarge it):

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Despite the photo’s title, colour isn’t the primary appeal here. What I find compelling is the implied relationship between the trees and the bright white spot in the sky.

The bright spot is interesting in its own right, with its nebula-like tendrils radiating outward.

Now consider each tree in turn. Each one seems to be pointing toward the bright spot. The photo works because (a) all the trees are pointing toward (approximately) the same point and (b) the spot where the implied lines converge happens to be the brightest spot in the whole photo.

But can we really say that implied lines converge?

Absolutely! The human mind excels at this sort of connect-the-dots exercise. Draw three dots on a blank piece of paper, and your mind will immediately respond, “triangle”! The dots do not actually stand in any sort of relation to one another, but the mind eagerly seeks out an implied pattern.

As a result of this reflexive mental activity, the bright spot in the distance becomes the photo’s focal point — its subject:

Human physiology dictates that our attention is drawn to places where lines converge. … Exaggerated foreground areas also provide perspective and the illusion of being in the scene and looking or even moving toward the subject.

Thus the photo magically implies movement:  a reciprocal movement, back and forth between the trees and the brightness.

Finally, I note that the evergreen trees are weighed down with a mass of snow. My subjective response (feel free to arrive at a different interpretation) is to see a spiritual symbolism here:  as if the trees are straining against earthly impediments, striving to reach a radiant energy source in the heavens.

I don’t know whether any of this was a conscious choice on the part of jgrantmac. This certainly isn’t a “posed” photograph, with the elements carefully arranged by the artist! The art here is in the seeing, whether conscious or unconscious. Someone else would fail to recognize the potential in this scene.

We are very close here to Cartier-Bresson’s construct of the decisive moment. If jgrantmac had arrived at the same spot five minutes later, or departed five minutes earlier, the elements might not have aligned this way.


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