I’ve always loved Minor White‘s dictum to photograph something not only for what it is but also for “what else it is.” His images that accord best with that idea tend to be ambiguous ones of rocks, frost on windows, etc. I don’t really know whether or not he had clear ideas with particular images what else they were of. Which would be just like I don’t for the image above. But I do have a kind of feeling that it’s about more than a frozen stream at the base of Pine Creek Falls at the northern end of (I kid you not) Paradise Valley.
All of my pictures from that day last month would look monochrome even if I left them in full color. The tonal aspects are very strong, and they are made for figure/ground ambiguity: is my main subject rock or water or snow and ice? I’m still in the midst of working with these studies, but some preliminary versions can be found at Winter Water. My processing has been influenced by what I’ve been reading in the meantime, namely Jack Flam on Robert Motherwell (thanks, Doug P.), where I come across stuff like: “The dialogue of black and white forms the basis not only of Motherwell’s pictorial structure, but also of the implied subject matter…”
Open questions for discussion are various. Do these images have any appeal to anyone besides me? As either realistic depictions or abstract compositions? Can an image somehow be “equivalent” to a spiritual idea? Can you discover this through working with an image, or do you have to know it when you shoot it? And even if you think they stink, have you found experimenting with similar studies to be helpful in your own art work?