What do you see? – Part 1 (HLD 425)

5 November 2021


I took a trip to south of my state a few months ago. After a ‘gentle stroll up a hill to admire the view’, while I wasn’t exactly waiting for the ambulance, I was definitely drawing in a few deep breaths waiting for my body to acknowledge that it isn’t built to climb mountains.

To cover the noise of gasping for air and loud groaning, I meandered off track to take a photo of a rather beautiful looking marri tree. Specifically a large horizontal branch of a magnificently warped and hugely amazing marri tree.

It was a lovely tree. It spoke of age. It spoke of standing the test of time, the test of the elements, the test of humans interfering with its environment. It spoke of being itself, with branches wandering off wherever they wanted to go, reacting but not giving in to the forces of nature.

It spoke strongly to me about resilience, of strength of purpose.

Gradually, as the gasping and wheezing quieted a little and I was confident of holding a conversation with someone without them attempting CPR, I struck up a conversation with a lady sitting at a camping table looking at the tree.

She was drawing it.

To be honest – I was interested in her, not in her rendition of the tree. Maybe I should have paid more attention, but I was proudly showing off my ability to breathe and speak in unison, so I didn’t.

We did discuss that she much preferred sitting quietly drawing trees, instead of climbing hills – whether they are of a gentle incline or not.

As I was happily taking photos of the tree – and breathing and talking simultaneously – she made the comment to me that in drawing something – ‘you really see it’.

I could understand what she was saying. She saw that tree in its individual parts. Each leaf, each crack in the bark, each new or old growth. She really saw that tree as a sum of its individual parts.

It got me thinking about how we see things – her from her perspective as an artist, and me as a living breathing person who takes photos.

I saw the tree as a total being. A magnificent being. As part of its surroundings.

I saw the tree definitely. I saw the parts that grew out on an angle, but withstood the pressures of its environment, and made those parts strong. I saw its place in its environment.

When I take photos, I like to ‘frame’ them. I make my photo show as much or as little of it as I want. Sometimes the background is a part of the story, sometimes not. Sometimes the focus of a photo deserves the entirety of the picture by itself.

Do you still ‘see’ something when you look at something as a whole?

Or do you need to look closer?

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