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Updated: Aug 9, 2022

Leonardo da Vinci once said: "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Frederic Chopin explained simplicity like this, "It is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art."

In this body of work, I decided to take a complex seascape and deconstruct it to its bare essentials by using slow shutter speeds combined with soft "flat" light. This type of photography works well in interior decor and can look very impressive when printed large. Ansel Adams, one of my mentors, said: "Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter." I must say that when photographing this particular collection, it felt the same to me.

As I wandered along the shoreline at Scarborough beach on that winter morning, I had no idea what to shoot. I had no problem finding some interesting compositions, but they were so similar to the same old familiar shots that I'd taken before. After an hour or so, a soft cloud cover began to move in. It seemed like it was just one of those beautiful days, meant for anything else except photography. I decided to put down my camera and just enjoy the moment – the soft cool breeze, the fresh smell of the ocean, and the sound of seagulls breaking the drone of the waves. Half an hour later, relaxed and a little bored, I picked up my camera and began experimenting with simple compositions. While slowing down the shutter, I noticed a soft, tranquil look starting to emerge. Excited, I slowed down the shutter a little more, and then still more, until finally I overdid it and the seascape transformed into complete abstraction. Deciding on the perfect shutter speed, offset by the beautiful soft light, I shot several different compositions, but I didn't really hold much hope for the photographs I had just shot.

Later, when I sat down to check my files; I was amazed at the beautiful images appearing on my computer screen. I remember thinking to myself, "No, man, it can't be... they are too simple". However, I really liked them! So just to make sure I wasn't too emotionally attached to these images, I made a small set of prints and pinned them up on my studio wall. After a week or two, I realised and had to admit that something extraordinary had happened here.

Adams also said, "I know some photographs that are extraordinary in their power and conviction, but it is difficult in photography to overcome the superficial power or subject; the concept and statement must be quite convincing in themselves to win over a dramatic and compelling subject situation." In this case, Mr Adams, I think the dramatic and compelling ingredient is SIMPLICITY itself, as COMPLEX as it seems.

Hope you enjoy...

Martin Osner

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