Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Contemplative Look at the Visual Elements - Shape

   The second visual element is Shape.  Of course, everything has a shape of some sort.  I've chosen this image because of the shadow shapes.  Sometimes we overlook the power of shadow shapes, focusing our attention on the objects that cast the shadows but they are shapes nonetheless.

   This image also has strong line elements. But what does it all mean for the contemplative photographer?  Well, at least, this contemplative photographer?  Everything, lines and shapes, seemed to draw my eye to the open gate. It leads to the monks garden at Gethsemani.  It was an area that was off limits to guests but the gate stood ajar.  I can't seem to separate the metaphoric quality of line or shape from the context of the image.  The metaphor, rather than any generalized or symbolic meaning of the triangles, squares and cylinders is what defines the image for me and to understand the metaphor you have to know the context of the photograph.

   The geometric and regular shapes of the architecture add to the sense of order and balance, which of course is part and parcel of the monks daily life at the abbey, but the sharp triangle on the ground adds an altogether different feeling...it points away from the open gate to the parking lot of the abbey.  Of course, you wouldn't know that without me telling you.  Shapes, like lines, have generalized or symbolic implications but, for me, all that is subservient to the context of the photograph.  After all, I didn't arrange the shapes or line patterns, I found them in situ.  I did wait until the sunlight created the shadow pattern but again, I didn't create it.  I can, however, interpret them through my carefully thought out symbol system which I've developed after years of thoughtful reflection on my images.

   Any discussion of shape, or any of the visual elements for that matter, rely on the photographs specific context.  Without that, without the metaphor, it seems a bit empty and purposeless to me. 

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