Often, the underlying effect of wabi-sabi is melancholy beauty in its worn simplicity. Yet nature, as our life, is often a messy. Eco-systems thrive on an untidy tangle of old, new and diverse growth (particularly here in the west coast rain forest). The old saying of “not being able to see the forest for the trees” describes how easy it is to become overwhelmed and to lose our centre or still-point in the face of all that is. There are only a few vistas in my travels that have captured my imagination with their beautiful simplicity. A building on a hill at East Point on Saturna Island is one of these places. I have not yet researched to know if this grassy knoll is caused by human intervention or if it is natural. However, the minimalist coming together of nature and construction sang to me. The delight and challenge then becomes composition.

Here are my various efforts over two days to capture “a building on a hill at East Point.”

And finally “window” , my personal favourite, and a featured image today in redbubble group  The Woman Photographer. This is a great honour as there are 2,527 members in this group and 79,986 images.

View and purchase full resolution image here.

Sprout Question: What principles of composition help you to create simplicity?

© 2010 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.

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21 thoughts on “Simplicity

  1. form follows function –
    To me the most important part of this design principle, that is most often expressed incorrectly, is understanding the function.
    At its core essential function, of most things including art, is based on the relationships it creates. The strongest relationships are very emotional and therefore subjective.
    I try to consider the emotional aspect of the function before the application of form.

    • Jerry, I think you raise a critical and important consideration about how and maybe even when we embrace simplicity in our creative work. My preference for wabi-sabi and simplicity has a lot to do with my desired function… exploring inner peace in everyday life. My bias is clearly evident with the studio-side text “The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life” by John Daido Loori. However, I recognize what your are saying as essential to our discussion of applying wabi-sabi and simplicity when we are creating.

      Let’s expand on this with a couple of examples…

      Here is a photograph by a colleague, Toby Snelgrove, of an abandoned Hotel that is a long way from “simplicity” both in content and in his processing of the image . Does the complexity make it a bad image? No. It is a great image because the complexity makes my stomach ache with the loss expressed in its complexity. Toby has used the frame, the light and the digital process of HDR (High Dynamic Range) to effectively capture a particular combination of emotion leaving the viewer (or at least this viewer) with a profound sense of loss and something having gone terrible wrong.

      Here is a second image by Toby called “Leatherman’s Nose” His desire is to honour a tool he uses regularly when traveling. Simplicity follows from this function. (Toby Snelgrove is a photojournalist who also lives on Mayne Island though he is in Vancouver on assignment covering parts the Olympics. Here is a link to his redbubble site which will take you to his other work and his website and blog site)

      Thanks Jerry for your “form follows function” sprout.

  2. Terrill, all of these bring out a very powerful emotional response. It’s interesting that the subject matter — the remoteness and the quiet and the power of nature, combined with the implied isolation of a lone manmade structure stir the emotions. But the solid underlying design ties them all together and elevates them to high art.

    Which is to say, these are the things I look for when attempting to convey simplicity. A balance of form and content.

    Congratulations on your honored place in The Woman Photographer!

  3. God what beautiful and peaceful photographs. Your presentation here beats atravel agency, even if that is hardly your intent! Ha!

    I am tempted to mention here that the new film by Martin Scorsese, SHUTTER ISLAND, used weather and stunning locations based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, set on a Boston Harbour Island during a hurricane, with caves, lighthouses and cemeteries showcasing some fantastic scenes.

  4. Pingback: Monday Morning Diary (February 22) « Wonders in the Dark

  5. Saturna Island looks beautiful. And snow-less! It seems a simple place and you’ve captured that admirably in your photos and post.

    Now that I’m here, let me ponder your sprout question. Principles of composition helping to create simplicity?

    Two principles come to mind: pruning words and images to capture the essential. And being present to whatever is presenting itself. That very quality of presence allows the eye to simplify, I think. Although this is hard to put into words.

    Love your sprout questions!

    • Wow Kathy! wonderful addition to the Simplicity sprout question. I think that is part of how I experience simplicity – by being present. It could be from the place of “the whole” or finely focused on a detail. So glad you came by:)

  6. Wow I am glad I followed this around. I have learned much and have many thoughts to contemplate with your sprout questions… Congratulations on you feature of Window, It is a great photograph. Simple and powerful in that simpilicty!
    I am Love, jeff

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