Thoughts About Viewing Bonsai
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Author:  Graham Hues [ Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts About Viewing Bonsai

Thanks Mike, I’ve seen how it can do both.....looking through the view finder one does get a different perspective that's for sure…. and helps one "tweak" the branches for the one final photo.....however
Recently I tried to photograph my Hm tree after a major transformation and couldn't get it to look event decent with a photo (great thing on the new digitals -delete button)... Whereas, in person the curves and movement of the major branches was very pleasing to me at least. The movement of branches away from and to the front was lost as they appeared just straight.

Walter – many thanks for your comments. “Blind in one eye”... a new article or old one?

Author:  Morten Albek [ Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts About Viewing Bonsai

this is a subject that is haunting me since many years, well, since decades. It is the norm that a bonsai looses tremendously if you compare a photograph with the reality. Well, sometimes it is the other way around. It is absolutely not easy to get the essence of a bonsai onto an image of it. The main reason is the loss of three-dimensionality.
One phenomenon is that trees which are styled according to the 'rules' often look good on a photograph. The reason is that they are made according to one single front, they are two-dimensional, and the branches have the famous layers where a bird can fly through. This looks good when photographed. In modern bonsai and also in naturalistic bonsai the layers with the bird are usually abandoned. The trees then have more depth and often spirit when you see them in nature. On a photograph they have a tendency too look untidy. This 'untidyness' is non-existent on the real tree.
So your conclusion is very important: be careful with judging trees on photographs. Especially do not compare a tree on a photograph with one that you see in person.
Which directly leads to another article 'Blind in one Eye'.

Walther, so true. This has haunted me too - all too much. Thanks for putting words to my thoughts. Some bonsai looks so good when studying them in real, and when you see the photograph you are disappointed, and vice versa. What should be the one and only real judgments is to observe the object in real and not at a photo. My wife (not yet but soon I hope) is a painter. Her paintings also loose the magic sometimes when I take a picture of it, and sometimes it is almost better as a photo. The same thing with everything else. On a photograph some people looks stunning, but in reality :-) But some copes to do both.
Bottom line, what is most important is that the piece of art e.g., has to be viewed directly, and not interpreted by some media like a photograph. Not to deny the beauty of that too, but to point out that a bonsai needs to be taking seriously in real life, and secondly as a photograph. Like any other art there is an optimal way to view the piece of art, and then there is a secondary. Theater seldom works well as a TV-show but it works well when viewed in the theatre.

Morten Albek

Author:  Will Heath [ Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts About Viewing Bonsai

The problem with photographs is that they attempt to represent a three dimensional object on a two dimensional surface, which leads to a very warped impression of what bonsai actually is. People try and design for the photograh instead of for live viewing and the way in which this is accomplished has polluted the Internet forums.


Author:  Matt Williams [ Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts About Viewing Bonsai

The same is of course true in photographing trees in the wild. Some apear spectacular when photographed from the right angle with the optimum lighting, inspite of being pretty mediocre specimens in real life. Others, no matter how spectacular and dramatic, canot be photographed to good effect and just look shabby no matter what!

Part of the problem is definitely to do with portraying depth, as Will Heath notes. This is particularly apparent when photographing deciduous trees with 'untidy' habits, such as Crataegeus, in winter. In photographs it is hard to distinguish the layers of fine branching from one another and so what is wonderful in real life ends up looking like a contorted mess.

Author:  Enrique Castano [ Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Thoughts About Viewing Bonsai

Well good photography is an art, so it depends on the photographer to capture what is being shown. I 'm just a beginner as a photographer, although I have practice this for some time. And yes not so great trees can look much better if you take a "good" photograph, however they usually look much worst. Also our trees in real life they look much better, but part of it is because is in 3D, part of it is because we just like the tree our brain makes up for what ever and we see a better tree than the truth. One thing we can see from magazines, from trees from Japan, Taiwan etc. is that the good bonsai look good from whatever the angle and from anyone (including my mother!) that just uses a point and shoot camera. How come? mostly is because this trees are style in all directions, all details are taken cared of, and in many cases this trees are already develop, and just maintain. Must of our trees are still in training and we often see what we want to create or the direction we want to develop. But this is not capture in the photographs we take.

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