When I was asked to publish my first post for the blog, it was really difficult for me to resist the temptation to write about trees. For those who know me, trees have been a big source of inspiration for a very long time. But I did my best, I did resist! And I decided that, indeed, trees being my favorites, I was not going to let myself drift into such an easy task. As a consequence I decided that, maybe, it was time to restrain and write about… just one tree : that just one single tree ; the one standing just outside my home ; the one I see when I look outside my bedroom window. My Facebook “friends” will smile, as they will immediately recognize that recurring little insignificant subject on my Timeline, my “Window-view series”.
A common subject
In my journey through photography, I have seen amazingly creative images by other photographers, images which have that special “WOW-impact”. Most of them show faraway places, and their subjects thrive in originality, beauty and never-seen-ness. But how about where we live, where we love to be? How about our everyday places? Is there beauty and emotion in what our eyes do not even notice any more? Can something that is so common become the necessary ingredient to create a powerful image?
To think about it, however, I think that the tree itself was just an excuse. Was it just the tree or was there something else about it, something which made me start the series in the first place? The question includes the answer: when you look at it more closely, the only thing that does not change throughout the series is the tree but, what changes IS what everything is all about. The reason why I started looking through the window was not the tree but the weather conditions at a particular time – be it the rain, the wind, the snow or an astounding storm. What really inspired me back then, and even now, were the dramatic and overpowering forces of nature that expressed themselves through the sky, the clouds, the light and the atmosphere. The tree was just grounding them; the tree was just the link between nature and me. My imagination and my camera did the rest. I was changing the ephemeral into something that would last longer.
Had I just focused on the tree itself, it would have resulted in taking a tree throughout the seasons. This has been done by many photographers of different talents. The results are charming and appealing indeed, but not always. And that was not my goal. The truth is, I find it difficult to take just one type of tree image over and over again. I have noticed that over the last couple of years I have liked to experiment more, in order to translate my own personal feelings about nature into an image, by playing with light and depth of field. It all depends on my personal mood of the moment and on the way I think a certain nature scene comes out best. Sometimes it can be a very realistic translation, but captured immediately, on impulse. Or, there are other moments when I think the light is perfect for a more abstract and creative cadre.
My approach is always different and varies according to what is at hand. When I adopt a realistic approach, I do a pure registration of the scene and create a mood with natural light and elements that are there at that particular time. In a more abstract approach, I play with the natural elements (light, wind, snow falling) or with Intentional Camera Movement technique. Finally, in a more graphical approach of the tree, I do not only just use natural light but work on the tree itself too (I capture it as a silhouette for example) or I use two color tones.
To put it in a nutshell, in my journey through photography I have come to the conclusion that travelling was not a prerequisite. There are endless subjects close to home that can make the eye wander (and wonder) and invite the viewer to experience a real change of scenery.
(Text and Images by Kristel Schneider, adapted by Fabienne Rousseau)
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