Nature Photography

Photographing the Unseeable

There is a difference between the subject of a photograph and its body. This butte above Olalla, in the Keremeos River Valley, for instance.

This black bird with an attitude. The blackbird (on his peach tree) is present, like the butte above, but neither are the point of the photograph.


Same as this young quince (quinceling?) on the Similkameen River Floodplain. The subject of the photograph is not the quince.

Nor are these silt bluffs at Nicola’s Prairie what the photo of them is “about.”

Nor is this photo of vetch a photo of vetch.

Or this salsify a portrait of a bee.

Or this view of Giant’s Head from Kikinninnie a portrait of an ancestral creature from the world of story that speaks us. Nor is the frame of the picture the boundary that defines it as a view, or as a piece of artifice.

In each of these images, an open, unnamed, unfilled space to the upper left of the image frames the image from within and provides a point of view, to which the image leads and from which it is projected at the same time. It is an internal, self-less frame, which I have been led to represent. I did not intend this effect, but I did intend to find a way to show you how landscape and the mind are one. Look how at times the space gets filled, but the  material it is filled with seems as unreal as the space would have been.

And look how the blue flax flower becomes unreal by being in the boundary of that open-ness.

And how the distant mountains across Okanagan Lake become intensified by the stare of this one-legged quail.

In all cases, there is something distant that loses distance and takes on the qualities of its surroundings. I’d call that a reciprocal consciousness. Even when the space is full, it still holds that quality.

Are we not looking at the Right side of the brain? With these cherries below, for instance? Look how it is not the focussed cherries that draw the eye but the empty space they emerge from.

It is obviously not empty. How cool is that!

2 replies »

  1. Hi Harold, as always thanks for this. Enlarging our consciousness with your ways of seeing. I thought of you strongly as I was reading ‘ H is for Hawk’ by British writer Helen Macdonald. The way she writes about her/our connection to landscape, especially near the end of the book brought you to mind. If you haven’t, check it out
    Cheers, Louise Brown ( formerly Longo)

    Liked by 1 person

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