Etz Chaim

Critique Style Requested: Initial Reaction

Please share your immediate response to the image before reading the photographer’s intent (obscured text below) or other comments. The photographer seeks a genuinely unbiased first impression.

Questions to guide your feedback

My intention and main focus with this image is to evoke a mood – a feeling that hopefully stirs the reader and invites them to look again. Does this photograph stir feelings in you?

Other Information

Please leave your feedback before viewing the blurred information below, once you have replied, click to reveal the text and see if your assessment aligns with the photographer. Remember, this if for their benefit to learn what your unbiased reaction is.

Image Description

For me, this image speaks to the dialectic nature of being in the world – life and death, spirit and matter, above and below. That being said, it certainly isn’t my intention to impose such metaphysical strictures on anyone looking at this photograph but hope, however, that the mood of the image stirs the reader to interpret from the place of their own experience.

Technical Details

Screenshot 2024-04-26 at 11.34.36 AM

Critique Template

Use of the template is optional, but it can help spark ideas.

  • Vision and Purpose:
  • Conceptual:
  • Emotional Impact and Mood:
  • Composition:
  • Balance and Visual Weight:
  • Depth and Dimension:
  • Color:
  • Lighting:
  • Processing:
  • Technical:

Most definitely. It’s a fascinating image. This could a struggle between dark and light. But I see it more from a bottom up direction: being drawn by light. Being a former biologist I see this as life coming from the sea onto the land. That very important transition in evolution. That’s first impression. Im sure others will come as I come back to it.

There many other analogies. From evil to good. From Medieval Ages to the Renaissance. From ignorance to enlightenment. The big thing is that it’s about a directional transition. In my opinion.

Hi Kerry,
Good to see you here. I’ve been away awhile. Am I right that we both both got into self portraiture for a bit after Vision Driven?

First impression: My first thought was old, hanging on, and making it. My second was that it felt like I was looking down at something lying on the ground rather than something rising up from it. There is something in the way this tree is growing that distorted my perception a bit.

Overall, I really like it, and the sunbeams coming from upper right really add a sense of hope or recovery or a future striving.

@Igor_Doncov: I also had an impression of an alligator or some kind of subterranean emergence happening.

I keep going back to this one. It’s one of your very best. Now I see it as holding things back. Holding back the force. This image is laden with meanings. One can spend endless time searching and finding, each time more personal. The little root coming out of the big one can lead to speculation as well. It can send you on still another journey.

All written before seeing your comments and it’s interesting how we all see things slightly differently and emphasize certain aspects through our world views.

Whenever I encounter a scene like this, usually while I’m paddling a river, I’m always drawn to them. There is something so vulnerable about a tree in this condition, but this photo also resonates strength to me. Mainly its the size of the roots, but also how they are anchored in rock. For many plants, the root system is as large or larger than what we see above and this reminds us. The light beams/flare reinforces the above and below aspect of all plants, too, and that the energy made with light nourishes the roots. I’m also reminded of the symbiotic relationship with many soil components such as fungi. It’s fascinating for that, but also that you brought a balanced and artistic component that not many could pull off. The pockets of green and the overall tonalities in color and luminance work to harmonize the scene. The deepest dark at the bottom and the lightest light at the top are important sides to the same coin. Beautifully executed.

Light above and dark below, with roughly cruciform wood as the focal point? My initial reaction is an allegorical impression of the story of Christianity. I definitely find it intriguing, and I’m suspicious a minister of the gospel could come up with all sorts of object lessons based on this photograph.

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@Igor_Doncov : It is for me, most especially associated with Kabbalist mysticism and metaphysics. In that context the Tree of Life was the primary symbol of the Kabbalistic view of interdependent arising and the intimate relationship between immanence - spirit becoming matter - and transcendence - matter becoming spirit. This is a very nonlinear, and remarkably complex understanding of reality. I have no doubt that the prominent Kabbalists of the 13th century would have had no trouble in understanding the nonlinearity inherent in quantum physics, chaos and complexity theory, and systems theory. If you look at how the tree of life is graphically configured you can immediately see, even if you have no idea of its meaning, that it is cybernetic in its configuration. The circles indicating stages of consciousness but more importantly, the lines between them indicating the interdependent relationships inherent in existence. I only made a conscious connection between my image and Etz Chaim after the fact but I am sure I felt it in the midst of making the image.

The menorah, by the way, is exactly the same symbol. If you pull the three candle holders from each side of the central "axis mundi"and extend them to the left and right - that’s three circles on each side and then put a circle where each crosses and then one at the top and one at the bottom and … voila, the same.

Too much?:crazy_face:

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Hi Kerry, I find the light coming in at the top distracting even though it’s beautiful. I personally love the colors and textures and framing of the tree. It makes me feel the strength of earth and root. It’s definitely my cup of tea.
When I look again I thinks it’s the light on the top of the trunk that distracts me most