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Square framing, centered subjects and symmetry in photography - the poor relatives?

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<p>Whatever favors the prepared mind, there's only <em><strong>two</strong> </em> hits on Google for 'enlightenment favors the prepared mind'. One is by <strong>JK </strong> on photo.net from 9/8/09:</p>

<p>" However, I know "enlightenment favors the prepared mind" and "seek ye the Lord when He is near."</p>

<p>Curiously, the <em><strong>only </strong> </em> other hit for that "buddhist" saying is from a <strong>djon</strong> , who sounds exactly like <strong>JK, </strong> in the Rangefinder forum, from 8/26/05:</p>

<p>"A real hunter is never a "random opportunist." <br /> <br /> "Seek ye the Lord while he is near." That's hunting. As is "enlightenment favors the prepared mind." <br /> <br /> Farmers live on the sweat of communal brows. Hunters are (sic) invididuals. <br /> <br /> Hunters aren't "better" than farmers, they're just more individual."<br>

<strong> </strong><br>

<strong>Sounds familiar...<br /> </strong></p>

<p>That's it. No reference to anything Buddhist. If it's Buddhist, just think...no one ever typed it into the web. Wow. Must be a secret teaching...</p>

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<p>Each day we are faced with thousands of images and untold quantities of random and non-random captures by our eyes, of things that may interest us, but often may not interest us. It is sort of a background noise in many cases, not entirely useless but often no more impressive than Musak in an elevator (the good-looking stranger in the "lift" may well change that impression). Most of it takes place with little reference to a frame, or not. It is just "there."</p>

<p>The confines of the painting or photographic image allows us the opportunity to create order from such randomness. The rectangular image imposes its own rules on that, whereas the square frame is simply a neutral starting point from a framing point of view. In my photography, I am often using my somewhat battered but trusty Mamiya 6 (6x6) which makes no such demands upon my organisation of elements in the perceived image. I can stay with the square depiction or mentally frame the final image in a vertical or horizontal rectangular field. Not a bad situation also if the image is destined to a magazine cover or is to be otherwise overriden by text or the whims of an "art director." Fortunately, that is not a constraint in my case.</p>

<p>We often wait to watch how dynamic (moving) elements come into play in influencing our choice of composition. We are thinking on one hand not so much of the geometry of the frame, but more of that of the elements within it. What do they say to us in certain juxtapositions, things that they don't say in other distributions? This is very important in street photography, where we cannot direct the elements, but are conscious of their ability to work for us, or against us (and not just us, but whatever is driving our reason for photographing a particular scene).</p>

<p>Symmetry, or asymmetry, or both? Centering of elements, in our mind, and/or in the frame? The more elements there are, the more complex is the symmetry or the asymmetry, and the more potential there is for reacting one element against the other, or co-existing symmetrical patterns versus asymmetrical patterns (by patterns, I am refering mainly to the patterns of disposition of the picture elements or subjects).</p>

<p>All of this I find very inspiring, especially in its potential to make interesting photographs and images that communicate both within and without the framelines, with me and hopefully the viewer of the final image. It is directing my work at present.</p>

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<p><strong>Arthur typed - "</strong> Symmetry, or asymmetry, or both?"</p>

<p> Cigars? Cigarettes? Tiparillos?</p>

<p> Perfect symmetry is attractive, and often lulls the viewer into a contemplative state. In Islam, and in the sacred spaces (and scriptures) of other religions, these patterns are commonplace.</p>

<p>Note that these complex symmetries in Islam are often broken spatially, via architecture, or more often, by sacred calligraphy. </p>


<p>The geometry of some physics theories leads to complex symmetries.</p>


<p>In diamonds, we want flawless, symmetrical perfection. In faces, we instinctively read bilateral symetry as a sign of health and beauty, but notice how some of the most attractive faces have spontaneous (unexpected, non-systemic) breaks in symmetry. Take Cindy Crawford's face. It's that oversize mole, sometimes referred to as a "beauty mark", others as an "imperfection" that many would have had surgically removed, that makes it. Or Isabella Rossellini's front tooth gap.</p>

<p> It's the same in a photograph. The imperfection, or break in the symmetry simultaneously accentuates and deconstructs it, and creates a set of complex tensions and resonances in relation to the pattern that creates a formal dialog, if you will, that can be used to manipulate the weighing of content, shift and/or cause harmonics in the sliders in the "in-between" places.</p>

<p> In many examples of "before and after" digital alterations to a photograph, we often notice that the "improved" version is lacking in relation to the original version. If one gets too anal about PP, it is easy to sterilize this symmetry. This is something that many proponents of 'straight' photography find appealing.</p>

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<p><strong>Luis, I'm honored that you've worked so hard to find my ancient comments on another forum (Rangefinder, 2005). </strong><br>

<strong>Regarding your anxiety about "enlightenment favors the prepared mind" :</strong><br>

Why would it be online? Should we expect every utterance to be posted? Buddhism is a discipline, not a written thing, despite the pop media. My impression is that its aphorisms seem to be amusements as much as guides. <br>

Christians regard the Bible as the Word of God...but their brains tend to forget its parables (eg regarding gambling)...presumably because they aren't commandments, so require thought. Buddhist aphorisms, like Pasteur's, remind me of those parables.<br>

fyi: <strong>I was given the aphorism by a Zen monk in an English language introduction to Asian literature, 1964.</strong><br>

I have no idea where he got it...all I know of his background was that he was "westernized," had come from a Japanese monastery, passed through Angkor Wat, where he photographed wonders and the signs of impending hell. <br>

<strong>I doubt you could find his photos on the Internet, so per your theology the man himself couldn't have existed. 50ish in 1964...likely kaput anyway.</strong><br>

The Japanese started reading all sorts of Western science following Perry's arrival: maybe even Pasteur. Curious people.<br>

In 19th Century Japan, American authors such as Alan Poe and Samuel Clements (Twain) were translated and very popular. Amusing book: "Edigo Alanpo" ... Poe translated to Japanese, then re-translated back to English...I actually read it. Not on Amazon.com. Sorry.</p>

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