Lines, shadow, texture, color. These are some of the elements that the eye notices, either intentionally or not, when we look at a photograph. When we have an obvious subject, like people or a landscape, these characteristics meld with the overall image while our brains interpret the story or action of the subject. With a less conspicuous or more abstract subject, such as this close-up of a tree, we rely more on these fundamental photographic qualities to please the eye. But there is a story. There always is. On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., my kids and I spent a day touring monuments, museums and checking out the Folklife Festival on the Mall. It was a day of walking, sight-seeing, and more walking. On the stretch of land between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, there is a small cluster of old trees that offers a welcome patch of shade. My daughter had run ahead and was already perched up on one of the bent trunks of a tree by the time we arrived. Here we rested. After taking some photos of her on the tree, I noticed the cracks in the lower trunk where the bark had worn away and the wood beneath was smooth like a hand-rubbed piece of furniture. The wood’s warm color was accentuated by the soft light filtering through the canopy of leaves. This well worn tree had been visited and perched on by hundreds, probably thousands, of visitors, just like my daughter, who could not resist the joy of climbing while parents or others with less youthful energy relaxed in its cool shade. This tree is a monument in its own right that has provided amusement and cool refreshment to D.C.-goers for untold years. Its cracks and exposed wood are a tribute to the generation of climbers, and those to come, who find delight in its simple pleasure. I took hundreds of photos that day, but this one stood out because it was unexpected, just like the shade this old tree provided on a hot afternoon in D.C.
Camera Specs: Nikon D7000, 62 mm, F/5.3, 1/250, ISO 100
© R C Norman Photography, June 2012
Old boat, chipped paint, barnacle encrusted underside. How can that be appealing? But it is….to me. When I paddled my kayak up for a closer look at the Shady Lady, my eye was drawn to her aft port side — telling me her story of age and neglect. I could have photographed her bow or pilot house or even her stern, which were not as revealing of her long days against sun, wind and salt water. But not this time. No. She deserved better. Her story was in her weathering. Her cracks and decay were a work of art. Her lines and shadows were pleasing in their simplicity. She was a grand old gal who was still hard at work earning an honest day’s pay. I snapped this shot, paid my respects, and paddled on. June 10, 2012.
Specs: Canon PowerShot, F/8, 1/400, ISO 80.
Recently while kayaking on Broad Creek, I spotted an old salt-treated docking post that had a section of splintering just above the water line. I paddled over and pulled out my Canon PowerShot and captured this pic. Often times, even the most mundane objects can be a source of beauty when you notice the interplay of light and shadow, lines and texture. All you have to do is look…and see.
May 26, 2012, Deltaville, Virginia.
Specs: Canon PowerShot SD 1200, 110 mm, F/4.9, 1/800, ISO 80
My 13 year-old son made this image one evening along the shore of Broad Creek where we spend summers on our boat Sea Horse. I was amazed at the abstract quality he saw in the evening sun’s reflection off the water and wet sand. The contrast of shadow and gold light make this an unusual and striking photo.
July 2, 2011
Nikon 200 mm, F/14, 1/1600, ISO 400