I stared out early this summer morning on a long hike up the mountainside, after three hours of back breaking hiking I slid off my back pack and camera equipment for a much needed rest. The beautiful light was just starting to build and it looked to be a good morning of photography.

I worked my way over the misty ridge in search of a flower shrouded landscape shot, but the clouds moved in and all I could accomplish was a scene of wild daisies that dotted the mountaintop meadow. What a wonderful day it was to be in the Great Smokey Mountains and being able to photograph such a beautiful environment, or was it ?

Now for the real story, I got up this morning before my wife left for work and walked four blocks down to the banks of the Ohio River in my hometown of Madison Indiana hoping to get a fog shrouded river shot. But instead with no fog present this morning I decided to head back home and go to bed, along the way I stopped for a diet mountain dew and a blueberry bagel, kinda hurts the purpose of the diet dew doesn’t it, and made my way back up the street to my house.

I decided to take a short cut thru the alley and came across an abandoned old car and garage with all the windows and siding knocked off. And it was here I came across my beautiful meadow of wild daisies, a patch about 4 x 4 feet, just glistening in the early morning dew.

I quickly shot off a few frames and continued on home, after loading the images into my computer it became apparent to me on what a deception photography can be sometimes. Many of or not all of the images I get are never exactly what I see when I shoot them, it is not something I go out and do intentionally, but it always seems to end up that way.

I think that is why I love photography so much, the ability to be able to take a scene or subject and somehow improve upon it’s beauty thru a camera’s lens. I guess some purists would find that objectionable but I guess art is in the eye of the beholder, I was just wondering what your thoughts on this are ?


31 thoughts on ““Deception”

  1. Jim

    I’ve had stray thoughts about when photography becomes art but have never settled on a definition. I think your phrase, “somehow improving upon (the subject’s) beauty through the camera lens” is a good definition to work with.

    I guess purists would classify all photography as documentary, not art. 98% of my photographs are certainly documentary as I follow Indiana’s roads and catalog what I see there. Once in a while one of my images goes a little farther — shows juxtaposition and play among lines, highlights a subject in a way that you’d be unlikely to see casually at that site, and so on.

    As your daisies show, you can work with the tools your camera gives you to create a scene that’s more than where it came from. There’s no sense there that this was a small patch; you can assume that these daisies go on forever. And unless you are devastatingly nearsighted, you don’t see just one daisy in focus and the rest in soft focus. You’ve drawn the viewer’s attention to the one daisy using your tools, and I think that’s an element of art.

  2. Mark

    Although I think it applies to most photography in a variety of circumstances, I know there are critics of nature photography saying it is too focused on the ‘pretty things’ around. How about the mass destruction of nature that happens every day, etc, etc? But you managed to find beauty in an otherwise ugly place, and point it out through the image. Now, probably no one would ever guess you took this in some alley without the story. In many ways, I don’t think it matters much. It could also be an interesting photo to actually shoot somewhat of a wide angle with the flowers in the foreground, and the alleyway environment. It makes a completely different statement with the same subject.

  3. ankush

    awesome shot Bernie. i agree, as a photographer one has the liberty to employ all means at his disposal in order to create aesthetic and artistic appeal.

  4. montucky

    I think that the art in photography is to recognize the beautiful things that the camera sees, usually at the direction of the photographer, but at other times as a wonderful surprise to him. We would be very arrogant indeed if we thought all art depended solely on our mechanical skills.

  5. The Right Blue

    I think of it as seeing an aspect of a subject that I want to draw attention to with a photo. Sometimes it’s color. Sometimes it’s a shape. Sometimes, with living things, it’s some aspect of behavior. The idea is to isolate the feature(s) I want to present, and then to show it in a way that (hopefully) conveys in the photo whatever feeling the subject it evoked in me.


  6. Hope Wilbanks

    This is absolutely gorgeous. I agree with you, except I don’t think it’s necessarily “improving” the scene, as much as it is that you are capturing it in a very unique way. Beautiful as always! 🙂

  7. davidlind

    I always like your commentary a lot. Getting inside your head is a treat. As far as the photo goes . . it’s very nice. I have one that is very similar only done in red. Maybe Ron could do one with blue flowers. And if we remember we can get them out next Fourth of July.

    That’s probably not too close to what you expected to hear. But it’s all good.

  8. Bo

    Even beauty can be found in an alley. Why would one choose not to photograph these lovely flowers? Yes, go for the photo, wherever it may be. With a camera in hand you are so much more likely to see that which others miss but not paying attention.

  9. Wren

    Interesting – I had a very similar conversation with a photographer colleague at the AA Art Fairs. I think photography can be either (or both) as long as you are clear in your mind which you are presenting, and that the observer also knows which it is.

    Like you, I find I notice the world around me, particularly the details, much more now that I take more pictures. Cameras can be a barrier to being present, but they can also be a gateway.

  10. Photo Buffet

    Bernie, it doesn’t matter where you find your photo opps; it’s how your mind’s eye perceives them and translates them into beautiful images. Photography becomes a passion when we find surprises like this “meadow” of daisies, and know we’ve found something priceless.

    Your work is inspiring and I never tire of visiting here.

  11. army man

    hey couldn’t get that ferrari vid to download here, will try again later. Hey check out nikon’s latest, d700, dx/fx full frame 12.1mp and a new flash to go with it sb900. Later, JT

  12. 2sweetnsaxy

    I think beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and sometimes it is the person behind the lens who finds the beauty in something that makes others stop to now see it as well. Many people don’t stop to see yet alone smell the flowers. I believe anyone who loves photography will agree, we all stop to see the flowers and in seeing we smell them too.

    Great pic!

  13. kml

    Beauty is definitely everywhere, and we can use our cameras to isolate that small piece hidden amongst the rubble. I feel your words exactly and that is why I love this art so deeply. Great post and image!

  14. JH

    It’s amazing to see wild daisies beautifully captured by you!

    Maybe we could see a wide panaromic view of the field of wild daisies you took above when you pass by there again ?

    I feel it would be very sceneic and beautiful !

  15. Richard Wong

    Job well done Bernie. What makes photography so great is that there is a story to tell behind most images. That to me is what photography is. I’m not really into the abstract side of photography, but love the story-telling aspect of photography.

  16. visuallens

    you are always capturing it in a very unique way.You didn’t go for a close up for the reason of beauty of it. I like it, abstract and artistic.

  17. Lana

    All things happen for a reason (or at least, so they say.) Lovely photo! Hope you enjoyed the bagel without guilt. Life is too short for bagel guilt…or cheesecake guilt or any of it, for that matter! 😉

  18. Artist Boyd Greene

    Great story Bernie! Great image! I find these flowers one of the hardest to capture in a way that fully represents their beauty to me. They stand up too straight!!! I need a tilt lens! Great shot Bernie! Very beautiful.

  19. Sherin

    What a fantastic picture Bernie… is it taken bu you it self..

    appreciated man. I saw your blog it seems like a very professional.. keep it up and wish you all the best and success.

    Bernie, no advt found on your blog… did you avoid that intentionally

    Sherin – A friend from another end of earth..

  20. forestrat


    Here is a quote from John Szarkowski the late curator of photography at MOMA:

    “One might compare the art of photography to the act of pointing,” Mr. Szarkowski wrote. “It must be true that some of us point to more interesting facts, events, circumstances, and configurations than others.”

    He added, “The talented practitioner of the new discipline would perform with a special grace, sense of timing, narrative sweep, and wit, thus endowing the act not merely with intelligence, but with that quality of formal rigor that identifies a work of art, so that we would be uncertain, when remembering the adventure of the tour, how much our pleasure and sense of enlargement had come from the things pointed to and how much from a pattern created by the pointer.”

    That uncertainty is the blurry line between simple documentation and art.


  21. cruxphoto

    Each photograph serves it’s own purpose. Some tell stories, some share emotions, and some are just beautiful. As the photographer, you get the choose what the photo is supposed to say to the viewer. One thing that makes a good photographer is control over that. This image is a great example of your control over what the viewer sees. Buy having a tight image, with a shallow depth of field, the viewer can imagine this image being anywhere he/she wants. Beautiful!

  22. Gaye Johnson

    You have made me think and that’s good for this Saturday afternoon. I’m grooming two dogs and now thinking about your daisies instead of the grooming. I keep thinking that ‘each picture tells a story’ but it tells the story to the person viewing the picture…and that’s always a different story.
    So it doesn’t matter where the daisies are when you take the picture…one spot is as good as another. Your daisies tell me that it’s a beautiful day and they are uplifting to me.
    thank you and thanks for making me think about this subject.

  23. YogaforCynics

    Love the two stories–the ideal and the real–as well as the photo itself (of course). Then, I think the second one is actually better–finding beauty by an abandoned car off an alley is much more interesting (and, arguably, more “magical”) than in the high mountain meadow where it’s expected.

  24. lenfirewood

    When someone mentions ‘art’ I reach for my (thankfully for me and the human race) non existent revolver! Seriously that’s a great photo Bernie by any standards – who cares about the labels. 🙂
    Keep up the good work.
    Len Firewood
    (from http://lenfirewood.wordpress.com)


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