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my considerations about Wabi Sabi Photography
Old 02-07-2016   #81
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my considerations about Wabi Sabi Photography

Thank you Kuuan for an excellent contribution.

Many of the posts in this forum developed by Western thought and the world experience of a Western world citizen. We want to capture the world with analytical reasoning and clothe the results of intellectual work in theories. But many Westerners feel that this kind of world experience and world domination can not lead us to the real core of being. So practicing Buddhist aesthetics (Wabi Sabi springs this aesthetic) increasingly attract Westerners, photographers too. Photographers who want to shoot in style Wabi Sabi, have a deep longing for another more profound experience of the world. Some call this experience Enlightenment.

But you cannot "make" Wabi Sabi photography. Here is the misunderstanding in many forum posts. Wabi Sabi images are the result of a Buddhist worldview and world experience. You can only gain this experience through meditative exercise and the consequent treading of the path of Zen experience. Wabi Sabi Photography itself is a meditative exercise on the way to enlightenment, the experience of true being. If you want to shoot images in the aesthetics of Zen Buddhism, then you have to abandon the western aesthetics consequently. And western aesthetics encounter us in innumerable pictures every day .

Part of my modest photos of Wabi Sabi Photography you find here: http://www.franzhuempfner.de/wabi_sabi1/index.htm

Check out my considerations about Wabi Sabi Photography with my theoretical considerations and many sample images: http://www.photoartfolio.com/publications.html
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Old 02-07-2016   #82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photoartist View Post
Thank you Kuuan for an excellent contribution.

Many of the posts in this forum developed by Western thought and the world experience of a Western world citizen. We want to capture the world with analytical reasoning and clothe the results of intellectual work in theories. But many Westerners feel that this kind of world experience and world domination can not lead us to the real core of being. So practicing Buddhist aesthetics (Wabi Sabi springs this aesthetic) increasingly attract Westerners, photographers too. Photographers who want to shoot in style Wabi Sabi, have a deep longing for another more profound experience of the world. Some call this experience Enlightenment.

But you cannot "make" Wabi Sabi photography. Here is the misunderstanding in many forum posts. Wabi Sabi images are the result of a Buddhist worldview and world experience. You can only gain this experience through meditative exercise and the consequent treading of the path of Zen experience. Wabi Sabi Photography itself is a meditative exercise on the way to enlightenment, the experience of true being. If you want to shoot images in the aesthetics of Zen Buddhism, then you have to abandon the western aesthetics consequently. And western aesthetics encounter us in innumerable pictures every day .

Part of my modest photos of Wabi Sabi Photography you find here: http://www.franzhuempfner.de/wabi_sabi1/index.htm

Check out my considerations about Wabi Sabi Photography with my theoretical considerations and many sample images: http://www.photoartfolio.com/publications.html
Beautiful images there, and interesting text. I'll order a copy. Thanks for posting the link here.
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Old 02-07-2016   #83
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all this chatter is boring! more photos!

I do not practice "wabi sabi" but I might try some Sake!
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Old 02-07-2016   #84
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Originally Posted by photoartist View Post
Thank you Kuuan for an excellent contribution.
..
thank you Franz. Thank you for your most valuable contribution! Congrats on your publications!
it helped me so much - I had expected for somebody of authority to elaborate and hoped to learn but then had found having to take a different role. Hardly ever before had I tried to put into words thoughts on Zen and never on Wabi Sabi and more difficult again in English but I took on the challenge.

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all this chatter is boring! more photos!
I do not practice "wabi sabi" but I might try some Sake!
hm.. I keep daring

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Old 02-07-2016   #85
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thank you kuuan and photoartist!
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Old 02-07-2016   #86
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I found this interesting
"To this day, the Japanese revere Rikyu as one who understood to his very core a deep cultural thread known as wabi-sabi. Emerging in the 15th century as a reaction to the prevailing aesthetic of lavishness, ornamentation, and rich materials, wabi-sabi is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness, of revering authenticity above all. In Japan, the concept is now so deeply ingrained that itís difficult to explain to Westerners; no direct translation exists.

Broadly, wabi-sabi is everything that todayís sleek, mass-produced, technology-saturated culture isnít. Itís flea markets, not shopping malls; aged wood, not swank floor coverings; one single morning glory, not a dozen red roses. Wabi-sabi understands the tender, raw beauty of a gray December landscape and the aching elegance of an abandoned building or shed. It celebrates cracks and crevices and rot and all the other marks that time and weather and use leave behind. To discover wabi-sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may first look decrepit and ugly."

Source: http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/wabi-sabi.aspx

Personally, I find Eggleston's work to fit very well.
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Old 02-08-2016   #87
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Personally, I find Eggleston's work to fit very well.
Think of it this way, do you think Eggleston could ever include photos in his books where his with prostitutes? And still be respected as a master photographer? Not really. especially considering his 'cultural background'!

Moriyama is THE Japanese photographer and master respected and revered and yet his books include photos of prostitutes implying that he was with them and that is his life... Araki is a pornographer in western sense and a famous womanizer and seducer of women and yet his revered and called a sensei.

That is why lost in translation comes into play... A culture that is a thousand years old cannot be compressed in a Wikipedia article!

And THAT is wabi sabi.
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Old 02-08-2016   #88
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Old 06-09-2019   #89
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[quote=lynnb;2563912]

My view of Wabi-Sabi is more like this:



Hmmm, Wabi-Sabi sounds like an interesting concept, I'll need to look into it further.

Lynnb.. I could look at this photograph all day, it's stunning
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Old 06-09-2019   #90
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Wabi Sabi... a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection...







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Old 06-09-2019   #91
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Their website seems to be defunct now (no photos anymore).


I don't think wabi sabi can be fully understood, and perhaps trying to is missing the point (certainly, my Japanese friend doesn't entirely understand it, it may pervade Japanese culture, but that doesn't necessarily mean every Japanese "gets it").


The effects of time on our environment however are always interesting to me.


Untitled by Berang Berang, on Flickr


Ghost by Berang Berang, on Flickr


Untitled by Berang Berang, on Flickr


Eckleburg by Berang Berang, on Flickr


on the fence by Berang Berang, on Flickr


steps by Berang Berang, on Flickr


47000005 by Berang Berang, on Flickr


I think we can extend this beyond just the subject matter, but to the photograph itself. Dust? Light leaks? Imperfection - or character?
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Old 06-13-2019   #92
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Old 06-13-2019   #93
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Untitled
by andreas, on Flickr, Pentax K-x + FA43, Japan 2011


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Old 06-13-2019   #94
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It seems to me that outside imperfect pottery, any balanced image showing change and a fleeting reality qualifies. Have a look at this wabi sabi palette:https://duckduckgo.com/?q=what+is+wa...ages&ia=images
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Help me out
Old 06-13-2019   #95
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Help me out

Despite the fact that interpretation is key to understanding Wabi Sabi photography there are some images in this thread that I'm struggling with.
Please understand, I am not denigrating any photographs here they all have merit and interest in their own right, but I am genuinely interested in how some can be tagged with this Japanese aesthetic.
My interest was kindled a few days ago and since then I've been reading up on Wabi Sabi trying to familiarise myself with the philosophy (and yes, I know it will take me longer than a few days to do it justice).
I keep seeing words and phrases such as "imperfection, decay, passing of time, beauty in the worn & weathered etc." To my mind, i should be trying to photograph the essence of something or depict a sense of transcendence rather than an overt depiction of a scene.
I understand interpretation is key but I'm finding difficulty in seeing how photographs which would do very well in a thread on Street Photography can be included here.
Obviously I'm missing something and look forward to someone enlightening me. As I said I'm not trying to be judgemental, I'm merely trying to understand.
When I get on to my laptop later I'll post one or two photographs for others to judge whether I'm on the right path or not.
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Old 06-13-2019   #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jumillar View Post
To my mind, i should be trying to photograph the essence of something or depict a sense of transcendence rather than an overt depiction of a scene.

This is a question which is far more general than asking "what is wabi sabi?" but asks what you aim for in your photographs, generally.

Are your photographs, documentary, illustrative? Or conceptual? Or put another way, there are photographs of interesting things, and then there are photographs which are interesting for their own qualities and the subject matter is of secondary importance.

The photographs I posted for example, are just documents of wabi sabi subject matter. The photo itself adds nothing to the concept.



Tin by Berang Berang, on Flickr


scooter by Berang Berang, on Flickr


Plants by Berang Berang, on Flickr
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Old 06-14-2019   #97
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I am rather fond of giving my photos a wabi sabi vibe using post processing where needed to do so. Or by shooting through dirty windows. A different "take" on wabi sabi? Cheating maybe? I am not sure- you tell me.

Walking Through The Market by Life in Shadows, on Flickr

Through the Window - Street Shots by Life in Shadows, on Flickr

Faces Along the Street 2 by Life in Shadows, on Flickr

Reflections of a Real World 3 by Life in Shadows, on Flickr
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Old 06-14-2019   #98
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In my opinion itís all about finding beauty in distortion, finding a pleasing visual experience in a less than perfect image. Itís not about the subject, itís about the image. A picture of something that has the attributes of wabi-sabi is not a picture that is a wabi-sabi photograph. Photos of rusty cans and cracked pottery are not wabi-sabi photos, they are pictures of wabi-sabi objects.

Take a picture without applying the best practices of photography, donít focus, donít compose, donít thinkÖ if the end result is flawed but pleasing to look atÖ that is (in my opinion) a wabi-sabi photograph.



Please feel free to ignore my opinion, it doesn't matter to me.

All the best,
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Old 06-14-2019   #99
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Very interesting but also difficult to comprehend. I'll keep on trying.
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Old 06-14-2019   #100
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I have a soft spot for the concept of Wabi Sabi most likely because of the regard I have for Japanese culture and history. But of course it is not limited to Japanese style either - a pair of stone washed denim jeans with holes in the knees for example is very wabi sabi in concept. But another Japanese idea that embodies wabi sabi is the ancient and beautiful concept of kintsugi - repairing ceramics using gold lacquer to highlight not hide the damage.



https://restoringofus.com/finding-gold-in-cracked-pots/
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Old 06-14-2019   #101
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Mike, if the focus were on the woman's eyes rather than (what I would call) front focused on the close edge of her hat...would that ruin it in terms of wabi sabi?
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Old 06-14-2019   #102
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canyongazer View Post
Mike, if the focus were on the woman's eyes rather than (what I would call) front focused on the close edge of her hat...would that ruin it in terms of wabi sabi?
Good question.

It's not a hat, it's an umbrella, or a parasol. Nothing ruins anything, in my opinion because I didn't expect the results that I got.

Mike

Edit* On second thought, you might be right. Well, there you have it, wabi-sabi in action! Or, whatever.

All the best,
Mike
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Old 06-14-2019   #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tunalegs View Post
This is a question which is far more general than asking "what is wabi sabi?" but asks what you aim for in your photographs, generally.

Are your photographs, documentary, illustrative? Or conceptual? Or put another way, there are photographs of interesting things, and then there are photographs which are interesting for their own qualities and the subject matter is of secondary importance.

The photographs I posted for example, are just documents of wabi sabi subject matter. The photo itself adds nothing to the concept.



Tin by Berang Berang, on Flickr


Thanks Tunalegs, Thatís helpful, personally i feel my own ideas are leaning more to the conceptional, but if the photo itself adds nothing to the concept, can it truly be Wabi Sabi? Can we ever get past a photograph being anything more than a document of a Wabi Sabi subject matter?
I found this passage in Wabi - Sabi and Understanding Japan

ďAs a worldview, attention is paid to transience, harmony with nature and attention to the tiniest of details.Ē
Is it possible to depict these traits in a photograph so that the image itself is Wabi Sabi rather than the subject matter?
By the way I had a quick look at your flickr page and that little yellow Daihatsu Midget is amazing; if ever there was a subject matter crying out to be included in our debate it is this.

Yokosuka Mike.. your photograph is beautitful, I love it, but your argument ďA picture of something that has the attributes of wabi-sabi is not a picture that is a wabi-sabi photograph.Ē brings me back to what I said above; Can we ever get past a photograph being anything more than a document etc.
Oh and Mike, your opinion does matter, Iím interested to hear more.

I was going to post a few of my own photographs, but my doubts as to what Wabi Sabi photography actually is has discounted most of them from inclusion here. Iím going to go with this one though, if only to give everyone a chance to throw my arguments back at me. in the end maybe i'm overthinking things and none of this really matters, but i am finding it interesting.
The photograph was taken late on a winters night and depicts a waterfall, with spray and ice. It involved a short hike into the woods with the sole purpose to take the shot and although it may not be the best photograph ever i feel it does include some Wabi Sabi traits; "an aesthetic sensibilty that finds melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things" - Andrew Juniper

Olympus Trip 35 + Olympus T18 flash @f11. Focus at 3m Kodak ultra 400asa... Waterfall with ice
Water and Ice by john millar, on Flickr
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Old 06-14-2019   #104
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It looks like a local thing and what is missing are contributions from Japanese photographers.
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Old 06-14-2019   #105
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Old 06-14-2019   #106
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jumillar View Post
Thanks Tunalegs, That’s helpful, personally i feel my own ideas are leaning more to the conceptional, but if the photo itself adds nothing to the concept, can it truly be Wabi Sabi? Can we ever get past a photograph being anything more than a document of a Wabi Sabi subject matter?
I found this passage in Wabi - Sabi and Understanding Japan

“As a worldview, attention is paid to transience, harmony with nature and attention to the tiniest of details.”
Is it possible to depict these traits in a photograph so that the image itself is Wabi Sabi rather than the subject matter?
By the way I had a quick look at your flickr page and that little yellow Daihatsu Midget is amazing; if ever there was a subject matter crying out to be included in our debate it is this.

Yokosuka Mike.. your photograph is beautitful, I love it, but your argument “A picture of something that has the attributes of wabi-sabi is not a picture that is a wabi-sabi photograph.” brings me back to what I said above; Can we ever get past a photograph being anything more than a document etc.
Oh and Mike, your opinion does matter, I’m interested to hear more.
I think it's important to point out that wabi sabi as an aesthetic in Japan is highly curated. Not created. I read quite a bit about history and architecture, and recently read a bit of an interview of Ohno Hidetoshi where he comments on a misunderstanding of the Japanese love of nature. The Japanese have a long history of seeking out interesting bits and pieces to build into their homes - a strangely knotted piece of wood, or a part of an old shipwreck, etc. and in modern architecture there are plenty of examples of buildings which interact with/frame their surroundings. From an outside perspective this is often seen as showing a reverence for nature and the natural environment - but as he points out, the forests, mountains, and beaches where these items are retrieved from were viewed as just as inhospitable and dangerous by the Japanese going into them to find beautiful pieces as they would have been to Europeans living amongst similar environments. And with the Japanese habit of walling up rivers etc. he points out the Japanese love of and respect for nature doesn't run as deep as is popularly conceived. What the Japanese love is to curate nature. To find and display the best.

Like the Meiji era crafstman who transformed an old ship rudder into a rustic gate for a garden, a photographer is not creating wabi sabi, but curating it.



Ukishima Corner by Berang Berang, on Flickr


We could take this Daihatsu midget that you mention. It was built in factory, as were hundreds of thousands of others. Then it had who knows what kind of history, but the effects of age are readily apparent. Then somebody decided it'd be fun to incorporate it into their noodle stand. So is the noodle stand wabi sabi? Or has its builder simply chosen to incorporate and display a particularly interesting bit of the aesthetic?



Midget by Berang Berang, on Flickr


It's hard for a person to make wabi sabi I think. It's a bit like manufacturing "antiques" - you can't really, because age is what makes an antique an antique and we don't control time. Could a photograph itself be wabi sabi? I think so, but I don't think it could be done on purpose.

Quote:
I was going to post a few of my own photographs, but my doubts as to what Wabi Sabi photography actually is has discounted most of them from inclusion here. I’m going to go with this one though, if only to give everyone a chance to throw my arguments back at me. in the end maybe i'm overthinking things and none of this really matters, but i am finding it interesting.
The photograph was taken late on a winters night and depicts a waterfall, with spray and ice. It involved a short hike into the woods with the sole purpose to take the shot and although it may not be the best photograph ever i feel it does include some Wabi Sabi traits; "an aesthetic sensibilty that finds melancholic beauty in the impermanence of all things" - Andrew Juniper

Olympus Trip 35 + Olympus T18 flash @f11. Focus at 3m Kodak ultra 400asa... Waterfall with ice
Water and Ice by john millar, on Flickr
I would also like to point out that Japanese exceptionalism is a very peculiar thing, with all sorts of ideas coming out of Japan purporting to show that Japanese are different from everybody else, their brains are different, their rectums are different (I can't even make this up) and so on. So I take it with a grain of salt whenever I see somebody write about how "only" the Japanese are capable of this or that. The truth is, just about any photograph is going to have some sort of fleck of wabi sabi about it, as photographs are locked to a tiny fleeting moment that only becomes further removed from the present every time one views the image. You have curated a bit of natural beauty here, but I think like my own photos it's a document of rather than a thing in and of itself.
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Old 06-14-2019   #107
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Interesting info Tunalegs, thanks for taking the time to give such an informative and entertaining reply. I obviously need to go away and give more time to this subject (but don't worry, I'll be back).
You said;
"You have curated a bit of natural beauty here, but I think like my own photos it's a document of rather than a thing in and of itself".
I take your point here, but I fear with Wabi Sabi, it may always be thus.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #108
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #109
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Looking for photos that may have integral wabi sabi...
Untitled by Berang Berang, on Flickr


Dream by Berang Berang, on Flickr


june bug rally by Berang Berang, on Flickr


Untitled by Berang Berang, on Flickr


Untitled by Berang Berang, on Flickr


Hero Alarm Clock by Berang Berang, on Flickr


foot scratch by Berang Berang, on Flickr


My opinion, for whatever it is worth, is the photograph would exhibit some sort of defect that is beyond the control of the photographer, something which cannot be prevented, and happens unknown to the picture taker. Light leaks, flares, and scratches are obvious effects of that sort.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #110
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #111
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