Beauty as a Key to Mystery

Free is an easy price to pay for professional products. The Nik Collection—now curated by Google—was rolled up as a free package deal on March 24, 2016, and this has made producing beautiful photos even easier for starving artists. The title image for this post had been slowly swirling in the back eddies of my LightroomCC® catalog because I just couldn’t tease out the look I wanted. Silver Efex Pro 2® solved this problem for me; for free. That truly is awesome.

The little flowers were found blooming on a large bush on the borders of a local greenway here in Chilliwack BC. They were not very spectacular, but the contrast on an overwhelmingly green palette caught my eye. The Fraser Valley is situated in a coastal temperate climatic zone which means there is a lot of greenery and often very few contrasting colors for photographers. A single colour does not make for a very compelling image. Though monochromatic images contain one color—grey—they include the full spectrum of that color, and this is the source of the contrast. This contrast is also a criterion for our perception of beauty.

The question this brings to mind is; from where did this aesthetic calibration come? Why do we see beauty in one object and not in another?  A person could argue that one person’s trash is another’s treasure, but similar criteria are used to judge the worth of trash and treasure before reaching dissimilar conclusions. Such a seemingly useless segment of genetic coding should make one wonder. In this wondering, I cannot help wandering into other areas where we apply aesthetic terminology—such as justice and morality. Truth is, there seems to be a deeper need for this coding than just determining where and how to point my camera. If this is true, then the questioning should ultimately lead me past the question of why to query who is the writer of this very human segment of code.

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