“Image Quest” is what nature photographers do in searching for that elusive perfect image, in seeking to find meaning and spiritual direction in nature’s beauty. Not unlike the “Vision Quest” of Native American lore.

In this log of our own search I want to dwell on the process of image making, among other things. And by ‘process’ I am not referring so much to the use of camera equipment and post-processing techniques, but rather to the very act of seeing, at every step along the path of image creation.

Seeing begins in the ‘mind’s eye,’ guided by our heart, not in cameras and lenses and opto-electronics; it starts with our emotive interaction with our subject.

Creating a photographic image involves a feedback loop of emotional responses . That first ‘wow’ experience prompts us to reach for the tools of image making to try and capture the moment, then adjust as necessary to bring our final creation in closer alignment with our first response. It is the emotion that lets us ‘see’ when we are there.

The process of artistic creation begins with seeing the emotion in a subject, focussing on the extraordinary, the beautiful, the stunning. In everyday life, too, and in a very real sense we do not see the mundane. The lion’s share of our attention goes to whatever is unique, interesting, beautiful. Even though our eyes and brain record everything within visual range we only ‘see’ what our emotions select. We watch the Saint Patrick’s day parade and remember the bagpiper bands and how they marched, their colorful kilts and how they swayed in the breeze, but who can describe the color, font and size of the “5th Avenue” street signs? It is as though we never saw those. And we didn’t.

Good photography begins with learning to acknowledge our emotional response then adjusting the ‘filter’ of our emotions before we even try using Photographic tools to effectively communicate what we see.