Monday, January 20, 2014

Avoiding the Cliche

Some themes in the arts become so common as to become a cliche. Photos of the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone Falls, and cute kittens are good examples. It is so easy to fall into that trap where you images are mere repetitions of others. It has been argued that it is easier to avoid a written cliche than a visual one.  After all,  a good thesaurus can rescue the writer, but there is no equivalent reference book for the musical or the visual arts. 

So, today when I went to Taughannock Falls, I hoped to escape repeating past images and ending up with trite results.  Earlier this winter I published a view of Taughannock Falls. I had done something new in that I was able to position the camera to capture a reflection of the falls in a pool of water near to the camera. No need to duplicate that; many reasons not to duplicate it, too. 

Once home today, I downloaded images and began to edit them.  Then I saw the truth.  Oh,  the  horror!  I recognized that the image (above right) was a cliche!  And, it was not as good as what I've done before.This was nothing more than a good exercise in editing. While possible, I had not found anything new in this image.

So, I went back to my computer to look for fresh vision.  At the lower part of the gorge was a pile of huge ice chunks washed down during a brief warm spell. They were scattered about below a smaller drop.  There was something new there.  I explored the compositions and found something that I found fresh.

Taughannock Falls will pretty much be available as a recognizable landmark in any season with a few changes in color and surrounding foilage or ice. In spring, this massive block of ice will be gone and not likely return in the same form. That large chunk of ice in the foreground is unique.

Could I find something new at the big falls?  A companion pointed out some maple trees near the trail at the falls. They still held onto a few rusty red leaves. The texture of the tree trunk and the skeleton of branches are in contrast to the smooth appearance of the snow and distant falls.  I found  a fresh way to present the big drop. 

I feel better presenting this image, but in looking at it I now realize it would be stronger if I had been able to put a person in the middle ground to create interest and a sense of scale.  So, today was a learning experience.

Try to learn something new each day. It keeps life interesting.

Paul Schmitt

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