One should not only photograph things for what they are but for what else they are.
- Minor White
I find this quote helpful when looking for interesting rocks, trees and clouds. My friend Alex and I were having a discussion (Scotch was involved, so take that into account) about 'Art' and just what the hell makes art, 'Art', and why do photographers have such a difficult time with it. It's almost as if we have an inferiority complex over what it is we create. Unfortunately, (or perhaps fortunately) we did not come up with a satisfactory answer but both agreed that we like what we do in our pursuit and it's for others to decide if it's Art or not. That rabbit hole is too deep and twisting to spend valuable drinking time spinning around in it.
Nonetheless, I spent a bit of the night thinking about our chat and it was then I remembered what Minor White said and I think that's my approach when deciding what and how I'll photograph a subject. The example above reflects this thinking. Whether Mr. White would agree is not really important to me. He sent me on this journey and I'll follow it best I can.
The boulder is from Joshua Tree National Park and it's a typical boulder from Joshua Tree, exceptional in its potential but ordinary when seen among its brethren. I appreciated its stance and heft and found I could align the mountain range in the background with the lines of the boulder and so I did. I was fortunate for clouds as they softened the harshness of the light on the surface and provided a nice set of textures and lines for the sky. It was always going to be a monochrome image and I found while processing it that the range of tones and the tonal quality were perfectly suited for monochrome.
So, back to Mr. White. Is it something else than what it is? Does it extend beyond its rock essence? I feel in some ways it does. Anyone can see it's a big rock, "Yep, big rock, swipe right, move on." But what I found and tried to convey was its timelessness; its textures, shapes, and tones; finding nature aligned with the environment and the eternal and massive gravity that I didn't completely recognize when there. By converting it to B&W I distorted its reality but not beyond recognition, thus a moderate touch transforming something ordinary in order to find what is extra-ordinary, what else it is.
I hope you like it.