There are a few places and views to which I am drawn over and over again. And as I keep taking photos of the same scenery, it feels like I am trying to do a kind of 36 views of Mt Fuji. Which I am not. At least not consciously. So why am I returning? After having thought about this for a while, I think I might have an answer. And one, that in a way surprised myself.
Here in Finland we know about darkness. After all, in parts of the country the sun doesn’t rise for weeks on end. Even in the south of the country, we have on average only 29 hours of sunshine per month in December. Ok, “south” is relative here. Helsinki lies at about 60° latitude, the same as southern Greenland or Kenai in Alaska. No wonder then that many around here suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) coming from light deficiency or simply loath the onset of the season of constant twilight. But not all darkness is created equal and I do think darkness has its upside. Especially also for photographers.
Every now and then I come over a photograph where I think “this is perfect”. Some photos by Edward Weston, for example. When I then afterwards try to analyze why I reacted this way I realize that this has to do with a certain way to treat the photographic subject. What I also realize is that the approach is just opposite to mine. And that, I think, is worth a thought or two.
Calling photographs “poetic” has its dangers. Some words have been hijacked and are difficult to set free again. “Beauty”, for example, seems to exist mostly in advertisement and or in combination with the female form. As in beauty pageant.
The same has, unfortunately, happened to “poetic” and “lyrical”, too.
The business of photography is often, actually, hard work. We landscape photographers also like to highlight the long hikes, the heavy backpacks with gear, the early hours, the long hours and so on. Does this make our work miserable? No, not at all. Often, it is a bliss.
But in physics, it’s dangerous to assume that things ‘exist’ in any conventional sense. Instead, the deeper question is: what sorts of processes give rise to the notion (or illusion) that something exists?
A Western school of thinking from the Greek philosopher Heraclitus to the English mathematician and philosopher Alfred N. Whitehead (1861-1947) has maintained the idea that reality is better viewed and understood in terms of processes than in terms of substance, objects and things. This school, loosely termed “process philosophy” has implications on visual art, so let’s have a look.
Every time there is sunny weather and blue skies someone suggests to me that I should go out and take some photographs. And I look out of the window with weary eyes and seek for a polite answer…