Half Dome in Yosemite isn’t really on fire here, it’s just a cloud being hit by sunlight, but I like this photo because it: (1) illustrates aspect seeing (as in psychology textbooks, where the eye can’t decide if it’s looking at a vase or two faces); and (2) raises the issue of chance in photography. If enduring photographs outside of the studio are contingent on lucky captures, can they still be considered art? If you take 5,000 photos, and one of them is as good as, say, a photo by Vivian Maier, do you then get to send it to an exhibit and, on having it accepted for display, declare yourself a photographic artist? Does it matter that Gary Winogrand took thousands of photos for each one of his lasting images? How much of what he achieved should we attribute to skill and genius, and how much to persistence, angle practice, obsession–and just plain dumb luck?
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