Altered Appreciation

The way I see now is very different from a year ago, the way I appreciate photos has also changed. Two pictures follow, both taken a few years ago, but I appreciate one a lot more now. So which is it and why, the Lilac bBssoms or Buddhist Lanterns?

Lilac Blossoms
Buddhist Lanterns

From what I can remember, The Lilac Blossoms was taken in a pretty old neighborhood in Daegu during spring. Surrounded by concrete and brick, this tree just exploded with flowers. It’s too bad photographs cannot capture smells, because it was divine. I can tell from the colors that this was likely shot on Kodak Ektar film, judging from the the fairly nice (for Korea) blue skies, and pinks/purples in the flowers.

The Buddhist Lantern photo was taken on my way to work. It was likely around Buddha’s birthday, shot in black and white on a 20 mm lens. I know it’s a 20 mm lens because from my early days being interested in photography I’ve only had 20 mm manual prime lenses for wide angle photos.

Both pictures have an element that repeats, but overall I prefer the lantern shot much more. Looking at the blossoms, the unpredictable nature of the flowers makes it really hard me to focus on a main element. Some are in focus, some are not, and it feels a bit like looking at one of those old 90’s crossed eye 3D pictures. I’m left struggling a bit more to find a safe anchor on which to ‘rest’ my gaze.

The black and white photo is anchored by a big, solid, easily recognizable subject (the car), and even the pattern is easier to look at due to it’s repetitive nature. The lanterns are hung so that my sight can follow them easily to follow, and having seen one lantern, you can imagine what the rest look like without having to look at them directly.

Strangely I would probably have preferred a more carefree, chaotic approach to composition in the past, but now I appreciate the presence of a clear central subject, and structured sight lines. Busy, or unpredictable compositions simply require much more work to ‘digest’, and are more tiring to view.