Dynamic Photography in Idyllic Situations

One of the things I am most looking forward to doing after class finishes Thursday is heading home to Chicago. I haven’t been back in 5 months, so naturally I cannot wait to see family and friends. Besides catching up with people, though, one of my other priorities is to revisit some of the places I love near my hometown. My typical haunts from high school are mostly nature preserves, public parks, equestrian centers, and the like.

The place I revisit most often is the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. It is the most idyllic on my list of favorite places and also the most challenging for me to shoot. Though it’s filled with trees and a variety of plant life, there aren’t many other elements that shape the arboretum. In most photographic situations out-of-doors, I rely on interaction between people and landscape, architecture and landscape, or wildlife and landscape. But as a wild area home to not much more than the plants it supports, the arboretum affords me none of these juxtapositions. Upon first glance, the arboretum seemed a pretty empty place. Only after spending many hours there absorbing the surroundings did I come to appreciate the landscape and see the contrasts and dynamics within it.

I didn’t come to this realization until rather recently, and by that point, I had stopped bringing a camera out of frustration. I keep coming back with vacant-looking photos or empty-handed altogether. However, now that I am returning knowing more about the character and nature of the Arboretum, I intend to capture what I feel with subtly poignant landscape photos (hopefully!) Also, because I haven’t been there in 5 months, I think fresh eyes will find it easier to pull out the less noticeable contrasts in the environment. I look forward to spending a lot of time at the arboretum and challenging myself to capture how I see it intellectually.


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