Friday, June 4, 2010

The Collective Hive-Mind

Corn Lilies and Lupine Leaves, near California Meadow, Sierra National Forest, California  2010

Corn Lilies and Lupine Leaves,
near California Meadow, Sierra National Forest, California 2010


2 sec at f/22, focal length: 40mm, ISO 100, Aperture Priority, +2/3EV,
- 1 June 2010 6:59 pm PDT. Photographed with Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 17-40mm f/4L, tripod mounted.



My good friend, Bo Parker, and I share similar locations that we both like to return to to photograph. However, we don't usually go out photographing together. I'd say probably 2% of my time out with camera in tow is spent with other photographers. That 2% being pretty evenly split between my dad or Bo. The rest of the time I'm going solo.

So, what I found interesting is that Bo and I both came up with extremely similar images in similar locations, both completely independent of each other. Check it out, Bo posted his version Corn Lilies on his blog here. These images were made in different meadows so it wasn't like there was one obvious place to stand like at, say, Tunnel View in Yosemite.

Now there's no shortage of images that are similar to one another out there, but usually those are a result of one photographer seeing another photographer's efforts and wanting to then make their own version of the image. Since that was not the case here, how is it that we both came up with such similar images? Is it that obvious a composition that most other photographers that would've been there would've done the same thing? Or is it that since Bo and I have known each other for such a long time now that our mental process, subconscious or not, for visually organizing elements of nature have become similarly aligned, thus resulting in similar images from similar locations in similar lighting conditions?

We'd all like to pride ourselves on our own unique vision, but maybe as the world becomes so "connected" the powers of influence will become so strong and subversive that unique vision will be a thing of the past. Not a very fun thought to think that something so special could disappear, but a thought to share nonetheless. Please, share your thoughts in the comments below. (Don't worry, as far as we know, this "collective hive-mind is just a theory and sharing thoughts is still ok)

*UPDATE - I've added a couple more images below from the same session. Enjoy!

Corn Lilies, near California Meadow, Sierra National Forest, California  2010

Corn Lilies, near California Meadow,
Sierra National Forest, California 2010


6 sec at f/22, focal length: 37mm, ISO 100, Aperture Priority, +2EV,
- 1 June 2010 7:04 pm PDT. Photographed with Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 17-40mm f/4L, tripod mounted.



Corn Lily leaves, near California Meadow, Sierra National Forest, California  2010

Corn Lily leaves, near California Meadow,
Sierra National Forest, California 2010


4 sec at f/22, focal length: 40mm, ISO 100, Aperture Priority, +1 1/3EV,
- 1 June 2010 7:06 pm PDT. Photographed with Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 17-40mm f/4L, tripod mounted.




10 comments:

  1. interesting thoughts... but I don't think the images are all that similar actually. the perspective change makes them feel very different to me.

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  2. Hi John: I'd suggest that the majority of corn lily 'portraits' I've ever seen generally all look like one another. Unlike Joshua trees, for example, corn lilies have an almost boring sameness :) I'd mostly attribute the similarity of images to the plant, and not the photographer.

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  3. JohnOConnorPhotoJune 4, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    I was thinking more in terms of general composition, i.e. similar focal lengths, distance, proportional amounts of the subjects filling the frame, etc. But you're absolutely right, the feel is very different. Fortunately for us the laws of physics ensure that no two photographs will ever be EXACTLY the same. Likewise, the images in this case are further separated in terms of feel by the differences in post-processing that Bo and I chose to employ.

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  4. JohnOConnorPhotoJune 4, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Hey Michael,

    Sorry to hear that you think corn lilies are boring ;) I get what you're saying though, especially in regards to the last two images in this post. Very much like most other corn lily images.

    However the similarities between the two images came to be; photographer, plant, coincidence, etc. , seeing the two images invoked what I thought may be an interesting theory. I, myself, don't necessarily believe in the idea, but that may be more due to the ego not wanting to give up the idea that I have something unique to contribute (playing devil's advocate here).

    In any case, the link below is to a Corn lily photograph that, I like to think, is different from any others I've seen out there so far. Whether it's to your taste or not, I think you'll agree (but then again, there are a lot of people out there with cameras making photos that we've never seen...)

    http://johnoconnorphoto.blogspot.com/2008/07/corn-lily-impression-summit-meadow.html

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  5. Hi John,

    Very good, thought provoking post I love that kind!

    So here is my honest opinion (and note that I’m not referring to your work, I’m speaking in general):

    I think too many people think that if they buy the highest rated DSLR on DPReview, buy the lenses that they see pros use, then go to the places and photograph the things that they’ve seen pictures of that they’ll create art. And if they don’t see the result in their photos, it must be because of the camera and they impatiently wait for the next model to come out.

    There is no magic bullet.

    Art is hard. Art is REALLY hard. In order to create true art, you need to push the boundaries of both yourself and the state of the profession into new areas. Just because the computer with a lens on it can now think for itself and take a technically-accurate picture, it’s not art. Art needs soul to emerge.

    No more than purchasing Nik Silver Efx Pro and converting it to black & white going to make you Ansel Adams.

    You need to see in a new way, go to places that no one has gone for at different times than everyone else has. Push the boundaries. Stop looking outside and look within.

    And if you think that buying all the best gear will get you that, you deserve every boring cliché of a photo you get.

    Art is HARD
    Art=Soul

    Thanks,

    Mark Olwick

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  6. beautiful! Amazing that you and Bo would be so alike- yet not surprising since even though you dont shoot together much, you do discuss and share your treasures, so it is likely that you have each influenced eachothers appreciation of beauty and composition...that and the spock mind meld thing you do ...heheh

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  7. You have studied this one quite well good sir. Definitely thought provoking, understood or not you are bringing up some theories I have seldom explored and not to mention it's creating a bit of buzz here.

    Adding more to the heap of coincidences: I was actually going for the same light you have captured here too, but was with a group that was ready to travel on. I guess not everyone can appreciate the qualities of this plant or any other living form for that matter. Somehow though, there are those who would consider them dull. I personally think the complicated process a plant will go through in it's life is thoroughly interesting. Regard for the beautiful design of this species helps too.

    I'm sure being more intimate with the anatomy of these guys does require a solo mission -agreed. That's probably why we both also photograph alone most of the time as well. Now for the collective conscious thesis you write of here; I think we are on the same page, but I don't think the inevitable connection some of us on this planet are all building right now, will slander any artists own uniqueness. I might even say that it would propel some of us to dive even further in our creative process and push even more boundaries. Perhaps the vision may be the similar (yes) but like you said no one image can be exactly the same. I believe the great and underestimated power of a truly conscious mind ( even if it is only that way for a few moments) it will subconsciously affect creativity in a positive way, as it has done here. The hive mind is growing and I think it may be a good thing, we could always use a nice collective.

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  8. Great post John and some wonderful shots!

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  9. Fantastic work to you John and to Bo. I know I struggle with the ability to find my own vision and look at things in my own way. I'd like to think I'll be able to find that vision one day but you never know. I'm actually working a small photo book that's about connections and how we are all connected in some way.

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  10. Michael E. GordonJune 9, 2010 at 10:18 PM

    Hi John: the link you provided is a really nice image, and I wouldn't have known it was a corn lily if you had not told me :) Indeed unique! My friend Harley Goldman also has a rather unique and enjoyable corn lily photograph:
    http://www.harleygoldman.com/photo/corn_lily/

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