Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Pattern in Nature

I can't help but see the natural world around me as texture and pattern. I have been seeing this way for so long that my eye yanks my camera and demands that I take a picture. Looking through the camera, I scan for the cleanest, most perfect arrangement. Many of us call this 'art' -- and many don't, I think for similar reasons. It's art because it's clean and perfect, it's inferior art because it's clean and perfect. That's your choice.

Hawley Bog late summer eve

I often find a mostly green picture to be somewhat boring as I later look at it on the screen. Is this just subjective on my part? When I desaturate the image and push it towards black and white, the pattern often becomes much clearer, and this makes the picture visually more interesting to me. Maybe our brain does this on some unconscious level, reducing all that green information to a pattern that gives us more useful survival information.

Mohawk Trail State Park, WPA planted pines past maturity

Our digital cameras have been built to be biased towards gathering light in the green part of the visible spectrum as have our eyes evolved to differentiate more finely in this same green part of the  spectrum. Was this evolution, helping us to find the threat among the leaves? Anyway, I think this evolutionary advantage naturally draws me into the scene around me. 

The piece below was from my first digital series and was never used. When the creations became formulaic and started to look like wall paper, I had to back away from 
the comfortable rhythms I was drawn to. When I moved into digital photography around 2000, the ease of creating pattern from nature was seductive. Over the years I have refined that pattern making from nature, isolating and clarifying.

experimental tiling pattern from the Buckland series pieces

During 1999 to 2001 the Japan Meditation series was an early venture into this digital realm. 
The pieces of this series were less obviously pattern dominated. 
The picture below 'Spokes and Stones' is from the series and resorts to using mirroring of an old waterwheel's spokes. Photoshop was a new cool tool to me, and I couldn't resist.

Spokes and Stones from the Japan Meditation series

Sixteen years later, it was so much fun building my mandala series using a handmade kaleidoscope template that I had built in photoshop (now a built in part of the program). 
I even tried animating these images.

Plant Mandala series using fern and QueenAnne's lace

Plant Mandala series using grapevine and QueenAnne's lace

I want to get back to the original subject of seeing pattern while wandering out in my woods and fields. As I became a better photographer, I learned to take my time and work to refine that first recognition of the pattern right in front of me. For me now, simple is often better. These files are also now huge so one gets lost in the detail -- getting lost, not such a good survival mechanism. So a straight forward framing of what is there works just fine.

evening view from Deer Park in the Olympics

Cropping out the horizon really helps to focus on the patterns out there too. 
Distance and hazy light makes theatrical silhouettes reducing detail to a simpler pattern. 

Palmetto after a burn, St. Marks FL.

Growth is pattern. There's no work on my part to see the pattern of growing things. 
Growth is replication, which is pattern. It's just choosing what scale to frame it on. 

Natural Bridges National Monument, UT

Point Lobos, washed up seaweed

St Joe dunes, FL

Hopkins Prarie, burnt ground

Texas rice fields fallow

Florida wave wash line

From grains of sand to mountains complete, frame the pattern and put it to work. 
Pattern is so prevalent it would be difficult to take a picture without it. Thanks for looking.

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