7th August 2021
Make a Google Images search for ‘landscape’, ‘portrait’, or any ordinary subject such as ‘apple’ or ‘sunset’. Add a screengrab of a representative page to your learning log and note down the similarities you find between the images…
Now take a number of your own photographs of the same subject, paying special attention to the ‘Creativity’ criteria at the end of Part OneOCA EYV (2014:96)
(My) Images: Trees
Fen Park, Lowestoft
Normanston Park, Lowestoft: Infrared
Fen Park, Lowestoft images:
- Camera: Lumix DC-GH5
- Lens: 14-42mm
- ISO: 400
- Mode: RAW
Normanston Park, Lowestoft images: Infrared
- Camera: Lumix G5 converted to infrared – 720nm
- Lens: 14-42mm
- ISO: 200
- Mode: RAW
For this exercise I decided to choose trees as my subject as basically, ‘I love them’. They are full of texture, shapes and colour, history and their essence is a part of all of our lives. They can be seen as individuals or a collective in woods and forests and the many different types, and where and how they grow, and what wildlife use them is fascinating. After all, two fully mature trees produce produce enough oxygen for a family of four for a whole year, so they really are a life line for the world.
I approached the compositions by looking for interesting forms in the trees as a whole which included its position in its immediate environment, in relation to other trees and nearby objects, leading lines within the viewfinder and patterns of branches that cut through the picture plane in patterns, as well as textures and forms relating to the tree/s and also their surroundings.
I took the images in two locations, Fen Park and Normanston Park, Lowestoft and used two types of camera one of which is a converted infrared camera. I approached both shoots exactly the same regardless that one was going to produce infrared images, the aim, not to treat the trees as a subject any different.
The trunk images are the original photographs straight from the camera. The ‘artistic’ within these images is the natural forms and textures of the bark. The natural forms, lines, create abstract paths that wind their way across the surface of the trunk. These ridges are made more dynamic by the light direction, which causes shadows and areas of light.
The Fenn Park images are creative for a number of reasons. Firstly, I had purposely shot into the light which creates a silhouette image. This allows the form of the trees to create the abstract content in the composition. In contrast it is the infrared black and white shades of the forms that create a visually artistic image.
The Google image search
I used Google search to find images of ‘trees’. This search brought up the following images which are all in colour and mostly show green trees. Although there are different compositions in the screen grab they are represented more than once. These compositions are an isolated tree in a field, tightly cropped images which focus more on the trunk and branches, multiple trees in a wood showing pre-dominantly the tree trunks or looking upwards to the sky which distorts the trees perspective and brings them together.
To extend the research, I typed ‘black and white trees’ into Google search and the following images were shown:
Many of the compositions were very similar to those within the ‘tree’ search, however amongst them were high contrast images that visually makes the trees look organic and abstract. Below is a comparison of two similar compositions but which are different visually in colour or shades.
Although the Google searches showed a slight variation in some compositions, the images more or less show a generic idea of what ‘good’ tree photography should look like. These are the images whose subject matter relates back to the art of classic paintings and their content.
Due to the fact that the new black and white search still did not bring up many creatively different tree images, I extended the search twice again. The first search used the words ‘photography trees’ and the second ‘art photography trees’. The results differed only slightly.
In the ‘photography tree’ screen grab, the search now combines examples of both colour and black and white trees, although the number of colour photographs is larger than those that are black and white. However, the compositions still more or less resemble the previous Google searches outcomes. Only two showed a more obvious step out of the recurring compositions, and both came from the same web page, jotform.com.
I visited jotform.com to look at the page that the above trees were on. The opening paragraph I feel sums up the content of my searches,
What would be the best example of inspiration other than nature itself? The greenery and the colors of nature inspire everyone. Here, we have tried to bring the beauty of trees and we are sure that it will mesmerize you, and you will not resist yourself from praising these photos. As with other types of photography, correct timing, light, and the right perspective are very important to take a perfect photograph of a tree. Here is a showcase for you to get inspired. In this post, you will see the beauty and greenery of nature in the form of tree photography.Jotform (2020)
As you can see from the description, words which correspond to the Google screen grab of the word ‘trees’ and the extended searches are: beauty, mesmerise, correct timing, light, right perspective, in other words a ‘perfect’ representation which in real life you do not see. I feel that a vast majority of these ‘mesmerising’ and ‘perfect’ trees have been manipulated because the colours seem to unrealistic as though the saturation for example has been increased.
If you visit the website page and look at their selection of tree photographs they are very artistic rather than real to life, and they are accompanied by poetic or story like titles.
If we take a second look at the last Google search which used the terms, ‘art’ and ‘photography’ with the word trees, we find that the addition of two creative words, brings an end result that shows an equally representative number of colour to black and white images. We can also see that there are more creative images which begin to step away from the traditional photography techniques and visual representations of trees. These different images have been taken from the screen grab and can be seen below.
Fig. 1 Google search (2021) Google screen grab of the word ‘trees’. [Screen grab: Photographs] At: trees (Accessed 08.08.2021)
Fig. 2 Google search (2021) Google screen grab of the phrase ‘black and white trees’. [Screen grab: Photographs] At: black and white trees (Accessed 08.08.2021)
Fig. 3 Tomlin, D. – Google search (2021) Showing visual comparisons in Google searches. [Screen grab: Photographs]
Fig. 4 Google search (2021) Google screen grab ‘photography trees’. [Screen grab: Photographs] At: photography trees (Accessed 08.08.2021)
Fig. 5 Google search (2021) Google screen grab ‘art photography trees’. [Screen grab: Photographs] At: art photography trees (Accessed 08.08.2021)
Fig. 6 Google search (2021) Forest Reflection. [Screen grab: Photograph] At: photography trees (Accessed 08.08.2021)
Fig. 7 Google search (2021) Call of the Raven. [Screen grab: Photograph] At: photography trees (Accessed 08.08.2021)
Fig. 8 Tomlin, D. – Google search (2021) Creative photographs taken from screen grab ‘art photography trees’. [Explanatory Diagram – Screen grab: Photographs]
Jotform (2020) 50 Beautiful Examples of Tree Photography. At: https://www.jotform.com/photography/50-beautiful-examples-of-tree-photography/ (Accessed 08.08.202!)