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Less is more

It was a cold, dreary February day when cabin fever struck, so I grabbed the camera and headed out into the rural areas just north of where I live. I had recently added a 200mm zoom lens to my kit and was eager to test its performance on distant objects. As luck would have, I came across a snow-covered cornfield with a single tree off in the distance. Steadying myself on the car's hood, I managed to grab a few good exposures of this far-away tree. Eager to see how the lens performed, I loaded it on the computer when I got home and began "pixel peeping," zooming in on the image to ridiculous levels to see how the lens focused. I was pretty happy with the results, closed the editing program and forgot about the photo.

It was a few months later when I came across my test photo, but I saw it differently. Not as a proper technical application but from an artistic lens (pardon the pun), and it looked vastly different. What started as a goof around turned into a happy accident that changed my photography; Minimalism. With no concept of Minimalism, I posted it on 500px, and people loved it; I was shocked.

Minimalism was born out of abstract art in the late 20th century, where simple shapes, colours and lines were used to eliminate all the noise and force the viewer to focus on a single object. It also forces the viewer to use their imagination to fill in the missing parts.

Looking at the tree photo, what do you see? Nuanced shades of snow, the subtle difference between the snow and sky and the mystical look of the clouds. The "v" shape of the tree and how the branches fan out. Try going deeper; How cold are you standing in this open field? Is it windy? Are you dressed warmly enough? What would the leaves look like in the summer? Do animals live under its shade? How many birds have perched on it? Does it bend in a windstorm? What colour do the leaves turn in October? All this from one distant tree in a snow-covered field on a cloudy day.

Ask 100 people what photography is, and you will get 100 answers. For me, it is to light up the viewer's imagination and force them to slow down and immerse themselves in a fraction of a second of our fast-paced life and the subtleties we ignore. To appreciate that less is indeed more.

K. Ford

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