Given this week’s theme of the Tuesday Photo Challenge, I thought I’d spend a post musing a bit about what makes Nature so beautiful to us.
Beauty has been part of philosophical discussions across the ages, and one aspect of the perception of beauty is the emotional impact that it has on us humans. Of course, any emotional connection is intensely personal, which accounts for tastes varying across cultures and people.
One of the constants in beauty, which crosses all cultures, is the appreciation for the stunning displays that are provided to us by Nature. Throughout the history of humanity, Nature has played a crucial role in the definition of all things beautiful, examples of which can be found in art across the ages.
One might wonder what the reason is for this. One aspect could be physiological in that our eyes have developed to recognize the harmonious aspects of Nature, which gives us an advantage in detecting those things that may be breaking that harmony and present a danger to us; of course, this is part of the ever-evolving game between prey and predator.
What thoughts do you have about Nature’s beauty? How is it appreciated within your cultural context? I’d love to hear!
This weekend I am attending a photography workshop taught by Boston-based, freelance photographer Rick Friedman. Besides being an accomplished photographer who has captured many celebrities across the spectrum, Rick is a great teacher, who is eager to share his accumulated knowledge and makes it fun to learn.
So, I am definitely having a good time and learning along the way about working speedlight flashes into lots of great lighting configurations to solve the challenges presented by location lighting.
This is a quick look at one of the shots from Saturday. This shot of Brittany was done outside using flash to offset the bright light of a warm Saturday afternoon in Boston. Both Brittany and Morgan, who were the models for the entire day, were a pleasure despite the long day for them working with 8 different photographers. My goal here was to create warmth with the colors and a sense of fairy tale darkness.
One of the interesting things in doing a workshop of this kind is that it gives me the opportunity to recognize the areas where I need to pay more attention; as I went over the images from today, I picked up on numerous little details or technical glitches that made images less than perfect. My challenge for today is to see, if I can work on improving my overall results.
In the first post that I wrote in reponse to this weeks WordPress Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge topic of Face, I mentioned the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, whose famous bust has often been referred to as the pinnacle of beauty. On this lovely Sunday, let’s ask ourselves: What is beauty?
Beauty is a characteristic of an animal, idea, object, person or place that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure of satisfaction. The experience of “beauty” often involves an interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. Because this can be a subjective experience, it is often said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
There is evidence that perceptions of beauty are evolutionarily determined, that things, aspects of people and landscapes considered beautiful are typically found in situations likely to give enhanced survival of the perceiving human’s genes. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, culture, social psychology and sociology. An “ideal beauty” is an entity which is admired, or possesses features widely attributed to beauty in a particular culture, for perfection.
The experience of “beauty” often involves an interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. Because this can be a subjective experience, it is often said that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
There is evidence that perceptions of beauty are evolutionarily determined, that things, aspects of people and landscapes considered beautiful are typically found in situations likely to give enhanced survival of the perceiving human’s genes.
The earliest Western theory of beauty can be found in the works of early Greek philosophers from the pre-Socratic period, such as Pythagoras. The Pythagorean school saw a strong connection between mathematics and beauty. In particular, they noted that objects proportioned according to the golden ratio seemed more attractive. Ancient Greek architecture is based on this view of symmetry and proportion.
Plato considered beauty to be the Idea (Form) above all other Ideas. Aristotle saw a relationship between the beautiful (to kalon) and virtue, arguing that “Virtue aims at the beautiful.”
Classical philosophy and sculptures of men and women produced according to the Greek philosophers’ tenets of ideal human beauty were rediscovered in Renaissance Europe, leading to a re-adoption of what became known as a “classical ideal”. In terms of female human beauty, a woman whose appearance conforms to these tenets is still called a “classical beauty” or said to possess a “classical beauty”, whilst the foundations laid by Greek and Roman artists have also supplied the standard for male beauty in western civilization. During the Gothic era, the classical aesthetical canon of beauty was rejected as sinful.
Later, the Renaissance and Humanism rejected this view, and considered beauty as a product of rational order and harmony of proportions. Renaissance artists and architect (such as Giorgio Vasari in his “lives of artists”) criticised the Gothic period as irrational and barbarian. This point of view over Gothic art lasted until Romanticism, in the 19th century.
Philosophy is interesting, but, of course, all of us know that there is more to life than the pursuit of beauty, unless one talks about inner beauty that radiates from a person.
Just when you thought that I might not mention Winter again, I ran across this image from last year that wasn’t actually from Winter…
Last year, I captured this image on March 29th, so it really was Spring! The Winter of 2015 was by far the snowiest in my memory of New England. This little vista appeared before me when I went for a short walk, while my wife was getting a herding lesson with on of our dogs.
Hope you enjoy the Spring that is coming (and Autumn for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere).
This was shot with an iPhone 5S using the standard camera app.
Another entry in the short series on Winter’s Beauty, as today’s temperature went up to 76F!
This shot was the final image that I captured during a long, cold day of shooting at various snowy beaches, from which you have seen some other images. As the sun started setting I wanted to create something that summed up both hope for warmer times and the stark beauty of this chilly beach.
The posts provided a great leading line to juxtapose the water’s edge and the horizon lines.
Hope you enjoy this image!
Shot with a Canon EOS 1D Mk III and a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens. The exposure settings were f/10 at 1/160 second and 400 ISO.
Another entry in the short series on Winter’s Beauty that gives us in the northern hemisphere a chance to look back at the season that is giving way to warmer days.
This is another image from last year’s outing with John Slonina Photography along the northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire coast.
This was during the earlier part of the outing on Plum Island, Massachusetts. The wind was still blowing and the sun was well-filtered by the heavily overcast sky. As you might guess, I laid down in the snow to get this angle on the snow fence that is well buried.
Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mk III and a EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. Exposure settings were 1/25 second at f/5 at 125 ISO. A circular polarizing filter was used.
As Winter is losing its grip on New England, I thought it might be interesting to have a short series of images that show some of the beauty that the coldest season presents.
This was an image from last year’s outing with John Slonina Photography along the northern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire coast. It was a blustery day with gray skies, but sufficient sunlight to make for wonderful photographic opportunities.
It’s not often that we get enough snow to stay on a beach, such as we see here; usually, wind and sea spray will clear the snow over a matter of days. This beach was beautifully presented with this snow, as nobody had traversed it yet; the dune fence and grasses provide some interest against the leaden sky above the ocean.
Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mk III and a EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. Exposure settings were 1/125 second at f/14 at 200 ISO. A circular polarizing filter was used.