Sunday, May 2, 2010

On What Grabs Our Attention

They say (as they're wont to do) that after you get married, you should continue doing those things that attracted you to each other if you want your marriage to last.  Since Astrid and I met each other through our mutual photography site (Shutterchance) and then started doing photo hunts together in Holland, which we have no intention of stopping, I'm guessing we'll be happily married forever.  I like that thought.

Interestingly, when we compare our photographic styles, we've discovered this difference:  I tend to go for the big picture and she for what we call the macro/close-up shots.  I have a theory about that.  Most of what I see now in my new home in Europe is new to me.  I'm still looking at the forest.  Astrid is used to the forest and so looks more at the trees.  Little by little, beetje bij beetje, I, too, am looking at the trees.  In non-photographic terms, micro (close up) vs. macro (big) seeing.  In photographic terms, wide-angled vs. macro/micro (interchangeable) seeing.  I actually like both.

In a past life years ago, I had the training and opportunity to translate and interpret ancient Hebrew and Greek texts, mainly from the Bible, to address questions about the role of women in the conservative, traditional church (i.e. are they allowed by holy scripture to preach!) and whether or not homosexuality is condemned by Almighty God.  It intrigues me that the parallels to wide-angled and macro photography are similar.  Any ancient text read out of context falls prey to what we call prooftexting.  That is, you can find a Biblical quote/verse somewhere that will support almost anything you want to believe.  But if you want to be faithful to the text and understand what the original author meant, you are required to interpret it in the historical and cultural context in which it was written..not in your own 21st century context.  Contextual criticism vs. prooftexting.

Long before V&V was created, I was inspired by
Frida's macro images.  Others of you also excel at them, I'm sure.  Usually I can extrapolate out from them and quickly guess the larger context.  But every once in awhile I will see something I simply cannot figure out.  Usually I'll guess or will read other comments to get a clue.  If still in a daze, I'll simply ask:  WHAT IS IT!  If I'm brave enough, I'll guess out loud and put my neck on the line, loving it when I'm right and laughing out loud when I'm wrong.  DUH!  Of course that's what it is!

My image today is basically a macro/micro image (from my 300 mm lens) that's probably a no-brainer.  It doesn't need the forest to "interpret" the tree.  Where do you typically see barbed wire?  And when you see this caught in it, what can you eliminate from all the possibilities?  Slowly you start to build the context...the forest...from what you see and  don't see (it's not sheep's wool, for instance).  You may not know where or when, but that may not be important.

So, when you pick up your camera, what grabs your attention?  Is it the big picture or the close-up shot?  Or both!  And how does it inform your world view of life in general?  Or does it?

(Speaking of world view, today I fly back to Holland from Atlanta...via Chicago and London.  Gotta keep that marriage in tact!) 

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