The Monet Factor

March 02, 2013  •  1 Comment

Tumalo Dawn, Three Sisters and Broken Top

Three Sisters at Sunrise

Full Moon Setting Over Three Sisters

 

I'm assuming I don't have to tell you that the above three images were all taken at the same location, with the same lens and within minutes of each other. I might have changed the focal length of the lens ever so slightly. These images are pretty much identical, and yet they look so different. In fact, a casual observer might at first glance think they were taken at different locations and were completely different scenes.

Truth is, these images demonstrate that with very little change in where you plant your feet, you can obtain some dramatic changes just by waiting patiently for the light or atmospheric conditions to change. During the rapidly changing conditions bracketing sunset and sunrise, you won't have to wait long. The above images, for example, were taken within a 20-minute period.

I was inspired to make a systematic study of the changes that light and weather can create on the landscape after reading about French Impressionist artist Claude Monet. Monet often created "sequences" of canvases all of the same scene and same location as a result of his fascination with ephemeral light and weather conditions. In fact, Monet made light and atmospheric conditions the primary focal point of his paintings. Secondary was the subject of the painting — it could be haystacks, the facade of a cathedral, a stand of poplars, a seascape, or his beloved water-lilly pond and Japanese bridge in his own garden in Giverny. It didn't matter much because it was all about the light and ambient conditions. As Monet observed,

"For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but its surroundings bring it to life, through the air and the light, which continually vary..."

And so Monet would paint the same scene over and over again — sometimes dozens of canvases of the same scene — capturing the ephemeral light, realizing that each scene was a different and unrepeatable moment when light, subject matter and weather conditions came together to create an extraordinary scene.

The same certainly applies to photography, an art which by its very nature depends on light for its very existence. If you study the light, you can anticipate it. And if you can anticipate it, you can prepare to capture it. And if you capture it, you know that you have preserved a moment that will never happen again, not exactly as you saw it, no matter how long you live nor how many sunsets and sunrises take place.

And you might even want to think about applying the same philosophy to every moment of your life — treating it as unique and unrepeatable.


Comments

1.Anne Gordon(non-registered)
Amazing how the three pictures looks so different and yet were taken in a short period of time from each other. Thank you for the reminder to cherish every moment for each is unique and precious.
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