Silence and space around a photograph

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Very dry in the Kruger National Park, South Africa

It has been a long time since I have posted an article. It has been a dry season for me.

Over the past year, the fundamental idea of sitting down and writing has felt restrictive. Due to this, I have avoided going through the disciplined process of (a) finding a meaningful topic to focus on, (b) gathering and harnessing my thoughts in a coherent way, and (c) then dedicating the necessary time to sit and actually write, so that my ideas can manifest in a logical and sequential manner.

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The joyful contemplation of a giant eagle owl

While the writing process has waned in meaning and significance for me, I have found creative joy and freedom in photography. Getting out into the landscape, to witness what was unfolding before my eyes (where I had chosen to look), is the gift of photography. I experience no resistance in hiking many Kilometres or getting up hours before sunrise, just to take one photograph.

A photograph is a reflection and representation of a particular visual reality that I had observed and participated in, at a unique moment in time. It is a freeze-frame moment in time. It can never be replicated.

A photograph can never be planned for and/or structured in the way a written story can be. Instead, it is an unpredictable interaction of nature and light that you have to be open to, if you wish to capture that unique moment that is moving before your eyes. In this regard, photography teaches you to be present.

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Symmetry and balance at Lago Di Braies, Italy

The beauty and power of an image is that one does not need to explain or describe what has been seen. A photograph comes with silence and intellectual space. It is this quality that makes a photograph so special. It comes without a word.

A photograph integrates visual information in a coherent way so that the observer can emotionally and cognitively connect to it. It activates and provokes the observer’s curiosity, without logically trying to describe its meaning. A photograph does not offer intellectual structure like words or sentences do, to help guide meaning for the observer. So in this sense, a photograph goes beyond words.

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Black Forest with a lush carpet of moss

The fact that I have written this article about my joy of photography, actually signals my return to the world of words.

As you write, clarity and insight feed into each other. This is the gift of writing.

Words and images are the building blocks of creating a meaningful reality. They are not in competition with each other. They exist in different domains, and complement one another. Just as an atom can be described or understood in terms of its wave-like and/or particle-like nature, so do images and/or words help to give meaning to our experiences. 

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Flight of a grey heron in the mist

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