Daily Jim pic 20

desolate swing set in Montana by James L. Kramer
Whether it’s accurate or not, Jim managed to provide a distinct impression of the area that he visited in Montana with virtually all of the photos he sent along (the flowers notwithstanding.) Despite the sky conditions, you can almost hear the creak of the chains as the swings drifted lazily in the breeze. And since I have other pics of that imposing edifice in the background, I’m reasonably certain that it is, or was, an outhouse, which is a level of unexpected convenience. It seems necessary, though – I imagine it’s only a five-mile hike to the nearest house…

This is a fun aspect of photography though, and one that I tell my students all the time: what you show in the frame (and what you don’t) creates the mood or setting, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be accurate. It may only be one narrow perspective or angle that shows the empty hills – and really, there’s just one hill – but since that’s all the viewer sees they tend to interpret it as representative; everything looks like that. You can easily manipulate the impression, with just a little selectivity when framing.

The counter aspect is that, once you’re aware of this, you start automatically seeing images with a thought towards it, and wonder what’s purposefully been left out. Now I imagine a busy highway behind Jim, the wake of the passing diesel trucks buffeting him as he carefully framed the image before he crossed the road to go to the Waffle House there for lunch. And now you have that impression…

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