the way I saw it, or, how I gave up on reality

The normal crop didn’t work on this image

How many times do I pass a scene thinking, man, I wish there wasn’t so much visual noise around that thing. (Usually the thing in question is a tree.)

This mindset is exactly why I love the work of Marijke van Warmerdam and South Korean photographer Myoung Ho Lee. His series Forest for the Trees puts a brilliant spin on the notion of isolating a subject from its environment. (Hat tip to swissmiss for pointing out his work.)

In lieu of constructing large backdrops, I’ve been allowing myself to enjoy technologies available and help turn photos into what I envisioned all along.

For a while I thought this manipulation to be false. Like auto-tune abuse in pop music, it was a lazy way to cover imperfection.

But I’m letting that go, and I’m not stopping with trees. If I can subtlety correct my pear shape or lessen dark under-eye circles, so be it. I’ll try not to get too uncanny with Madonnafication.

So when I passed by this scene near our house, I didn’t see the tree in the soccer field surrounded by powerlines and cell phone towers, I saw something clean, simple and lovely.

PhotosThe full view with before and after


  1. A few years ago a friend and I had dreamt up this big plan to create humongous canvases of differing colors, somehow stand them behind trees and make photographs. We were amused, disappointed, surprised, awed, shocked, etc., to one day see Myoung Ho Lee’s photographs turn up of the same idea. I’m glad he made the images. I think he did a better job that we would have.
    By the way, I’ve also recently decided to let go of certain ‘purist’ tendencies. It’s liberating, yes?
    I love your after image.

  2. That’s amazing, Chris. How long did that take you? I assume you used some other photos to stitch this together a bit? In any case, kudos. If your liberation gives us images like that, I’m all for it.

  3. I’m with you Ricky, about giving up on trying to be a purist. Thing is, even film is a technology, one that can be manipulated. It’s all the same.
    And JP, it didn’t take very long at all really. Maybe half an hour in front of the TV. A few photos were involved, but the real benefit was using some areas of the photo that I cropped off to center the tree.

  4. Love it. The resulting image and the thought and process behind it. It’s definitely taken me a while to get past my purist or perfectionist tendencies. It’s about doing, trying, experimenting and everything in between. Then again, you know that already.
    Well done and well said.

Comments are closed.