Nature Photography

Freeing Ourselves from The Illusion of the Real

So, which is “real”? The chokecherries at the end of day?

Or the chokecherries seen through a moving camera’s errors?

It sure seems to me that something of the chokecherry’s essence is better captured in the “error.” A sense of extension and repetition, for one. Time, even. Again?

Now we’re deeply intimate with the choke cherry and living right in the light, as it does. The light is not broken down purely into humanly-recognizable shapes, and although the image has depth, strangely it is all on one plane. There’s something human here as well, but not as defined by Enlightenment consciousness, of which the camera is a favoured tool.

Not just choke cherries, either. Grass, too. Such as this Great Basin Giant Wild Rye:

Note how the light is almost gone. The camera is suffering!

But when I let the camera loose from being a “neutral” observer, this:

The woven pattern of the grass, and its richness of colour, are stressed now, o er the individual stalks. There’s spirit in this. I let stag horn sumacs speak this way, too. First, as the Earth turned away from the sun:


All a bit too blurry for a serious image.

Now, look again:

Look at the pop of colour and the pop of the stalks at the same time. What a conversation!

This is the kind of difference between poetry and the Enlightenment’s darling, prose. Sad, then that, in the face of such revelations as this…

… the push today is to write poetry as if it were prose, and to stress statistical measurement of the natural world over human wisdom, which is the wisdom of the body. That such a tool as a camera can be put to use to bring the world back to life, as opposed to cataloguing a very specific point of view of it as “reality”, is heartening. And the great thing is, we don’t have to choose, say, between an Oregon grape …

… and an Oregon grape!

We can have them both, and have richer selves for it. Besides, it’s not as if we’re making this up:

No messing around with the camera. The Earth is doing this herself. This is a layer of algae that has torn loose on the bottom of a puddle of fine clay, with reflections of blue bunch wheatgrass and some knapweed on the surface, in evening light.

This is the world we live in.

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