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A Recipe for Seeing

Articles: A Recipe for Seeing

This is a classic example of a simple and sensuous line—the structural foundation of the composition that I look for in every image I shoot. Here, it was irresistibly obvious in a garden designed by Barbara Hiltie, Portland, Oregon. Author’s photographs

A garden is a setting for what can be an intensely personal aesthetic and even spiritual experience; in fact, this is the intended result of a well-designed garden. Can this be faithfully represented in an image? This is the goal of learning to see as a garden photographer.

Sitting in a small section of the Saiho-ji Moss Garden Temple on the outskirts of Kyoto, I noticed something peculiar, something I had never seen before. I was looking at a group of stones and noticing that the space between the stones was in perfect harmony with the stones themselves. I had never experienced this kind of subtle exactness in a garden, this kind of sensitivity to the entire space, where attention was given not only to objects but also to the absence of objects—the space between them. The harmony of proportions was both elegant and powerful. This sensation was reinforced ...


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