“Canola Field” by Mark Knighton (Or Beauty In Excess)
In my opinion, the only thing better than repetition in art is a whole lot of repetition. I want to be saturated – no, drowned – with it. If you can show me a whole lot of something beautiful, I may believe that you have happened upon something truly unique. This week, I’d like to share with you a very fresh photo from the Flickr Pool, a photo titled Canola Field by Mark Knighton. If there’s ever a great example of saturation with pattern, Canola Field is it. And I must say that I don’t feel at all guilty for indulging.
Canola is a crop and this is apparently a full-production field. Which, I guess, is why I find this photo to be such a beautiful example of repetition: Mark does not present this as if it were industry or photojournalism. This shot is treated with every bit of respect as if it were a natural landscape. Missing is any indication of a human’s hand, and there is no sight or clue as to the existence of farm equipment or labor. The process or the farmstead is not the subject, it is simply this very large field of Canola plants. It’s a subtle detail, but I think it’s an important distinction. The repetition is therefore the one and only subject.
Now pattern and repetition are curious terms. Each would imply that the pattern or item being repeated is exactly the same. But that isn’t really the case in art. The rules could be bent a little, or perhaps they shouldn’t be so strict in the first place, and we can repeat a bunch of similar items that are of the same type of thing. And thus, a big field with Canola plants, each different in their own way but inherently the same, the repetition is painfully obvious. Clearly the part of the brain that concerns itself with patterns (the left brain) is not so concerned about subtle differences. And that’s fine, because you can take advantage of this trick to pleasure your right brain, who will nonchalantly accept any differences or flaws in the pattern as “good enough” and just enjoy the view. See, photography can be such a left-brained task at times – exposure set to 1/200, aperture at f/22, and so on – but the goal is really to create an image that appeals to the right, and more creative, brain. And Righty likes imperfect pattern. Like me, it likes to be drowned by it.
Super-saturated patterns are exactly what Mark has done here. Presented with a field of canola, I suspect that we’d all approach this differently. Some might get really close to a single flower to capture such fine details. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but Mark was probably already working on the big picture here. I suspect Mark can see the forest for the trees – an old expression meaning he understands the context equally as well as its details. Whatever would fit in the widest frame is exactly what he wanted. So he fit in whatever his lens could take, and the rest is in post.
As a side note, I would like to point out that the clouds, the placement of the horizon and that single solitary tree in the middle of the field are all fantastic compositional elements. Those are all discussions with another purpose, but I simply could not let each be overlooked.
Mark Knighton hails from Sydney, Australia, and he dabbles in all sorts of photography. Personally, I’m drawn to his architecture and landscape photography. But you can get it all on his Flickr Photostream. Of course, if you’d like to purchase some of his fantastic and inspiring works, you can also find him at Redbubble. So if you happen to wander over to observe his work, I hope you let him know that we sent you.