Lines in the snow

December 30, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Winter Tree Farm

Just about any photography book describing composition will talk about leading lines or other design elements.  These are tools used to guide your eyes as you scan an image and explore what it's showing.  These tools help bring order to an image, helping it fit into our need for symmetry and boundaries.

 

The park near our house was simply agricultural fields years ago, rolling hills of furrows and crops.  As it has been converted to a public space trees have been planted in various areas to provide a sense of forest.  Following the sensible nature of Plains land managers, the trees are all planted in rows.  There's no productive reason for doing it this way; these aren't fruit trees that need tending or harvesting.  I think it's just the way land managers here think.  I doubt the deer and turkeys mind - they are just happy to have some shade and hiding places.

 

I do like photographing in this park and one reason is the way the trees line up.  I can use these lines for a variety of purposes in my compositions but mostly they give a clear indication of this being a park, not a forest.  Sometimes in the few real forests around the area I find myself searching for a way to bring order to the composition.  Trees in real forests have no need to line up nicely, dropping their seeds at random around their roots.  Or having their progeny spread by birds and animals to farther reaches of the woods.  They thrive on chaos, creating chaos with each spring.  Survivors are those able to grasp sunlight, nutrients, rainwater from among all the competitive siblings.  How to order that struggle in a single frame?

 

No, parks are much better behaved, where each tree has its allotted space with no need to wrestle with a neighbor for survival.  Clones all growing at the same pace, each mimicking the other to provide a graceful span for the observant photographer.  What attracted me to this scene is the way each trunk leads to the next one, creating a horizontal line of vertical elements.  And how this orderly flow moves upward in the image to the chaos of limbs tangled one among the other.  So much like our plans for living - we start out so clear in our direction and then later find ourselves bent this way and that as life happens to us.  But isn't success in life predicated on a firm foundation, an anchor in the soil of our heritage, culture and ethical instruction?  The tangle of limbs above wouldn't exist without the ordered line of trunks below.  And the truck is dependent on the limbs (and leaves) to capture sunlight and convert food into energy for survival.  Our past directs our future, and our present rests on our prior growth.  Who knew that could be captured in a photograph?


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