Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Inspirations #18: Tree Trunks - Albert Renger-Patzsch & Clinton Smith

Buchenwald, 1936 by Albert Renger Patzsch

I have always been fascinated by tree trunks. For some reason, the entire tree, unless it is the only tree in the photo (as in Ansel Adams' Oak Tree in Snow Storm, Yosemite) just doesn't do it for me. It kind of starts getting too complicated when you introduce the whole tree. I have always loved Albert Renger-Patzsch's Buchenwald, 1936. The first time I saw it was in one of my favorite photo books, Counterparts: Form and Emotion in Photography.

Another tree trunk photo I love is Brett Weston's Beech Forest, Holland, 1971. Although part of the canopy is included, the strength of this photo is the elegant lines of the trunks. They almost remind me of city people scurrying in their hectic lives.

On my first trip to Carmel in 1984 I went to the Weston Gallery. At the time they were exhibitibng Clinton Smith. There was a huge 30x40 color print in the window. It blew me away. The simplicity and the color were just amazing.

Untitled by Clinton Smith

Trees have to be simple and graphic for me. The lines have to be elegant, and more often than not, curved slightly. Maybe that's what attracted me to the Two Trees in Snow, Pompton Lakes, 1984. What happened above the crop just did not interest me. In fact, this is a crop of the full negative.

Two Trees in Snow, Pompton Lakes, NJ 1984 by Richard M. Coda

One of my favorite places to photograph in Scottsdale is the Civic Plaza. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is located there. The building is very modern... lots of glass and brushed steel and curved surfaces. This tree is behind the art center along the walkway to the parking garage. Initially the sheen of the metal surface caught my eye. But later I thought more about the curve of the tree. I love the way the dark, crusty curve of the tree trunk counters the smooth, luminous surface of the metal wall and the vertical lines of the metal sections.

SMoCA Tree, Scottsdale, AZ, 2009 by Richard M. Coda

Although my images are of single trees, or at least appear to be single trees, I am still in search of a composition of multiple tree trunks. Hopefully one day I will find them.

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