A camera allows one to capture a single, thin slice of whatever one wishes to preserve. I have believed for many years now that within the folds of any subject, an imperceptible silence resides, even resonates. This is a silence unheard within the nooks and crannies of the ruffles of noise that blanket the world we all live in– such matters hinting that, camera in hand, we can freeze and catch a glimpse of what we can and cannot immediately witness through the possibilities and limitations of our senses. Similarly, infrared photography permits one to capture a quality of light that lies just outside of our visible perception of the world, a quality of light that shines, perhaps, more brightly, more intensely, than we can ever truly experience.
These images, selected from a much larger series, merge both these photographic possibilities and focuses them on the minimalist simplicity of trees– some standing solitary, others huddled together, all of them bathing in the silence of light. Such compositions, especially in this day and age of social media and sharing, have become ubiquitous– and perhaps they even border on cliché– but the experience of seeing, really seeing, such moments reveals, again and again, how extraordinary such beauty is as well as how truly human it is to appreciate the simple beauty of the curve of a tree branch, the shapeliness of a tree trunk, and the multiple connections and intersections of a tree’s many lines. By exploring these qualities of silence and light, which reside just outside the scope of our senses, I seek to illuminate such beauty and remind the viewer of the wonder that such things even are.
About Nathan Wirth
I am a self-learned photographer who uses a variety of techniques— including long exposure, infrared, and intentional camera movement— to express my unending wonder of the fundamental fact of existence by attempting to focus on the silence that we can sometimes perceive in between the incessant waves of sound that often dominate our perceptions of the world. I earned both my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English Literature from San Francisco State University and bring to my photography a deep appreciation of poetry. Poets such as George Oppen, Gary Snyder, Seamus Heaney, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Lorine Niedecker, and George Mackay Brown have played a fundamental role in shaping my attention to the things and places that I photograph. Often returning to the same locations many times, I seek to explore the silence and the sublimity of those places.
Recently, I have been studying and integrating into my work Japanese traditions of Zen, ikebana, rock gardens, ma, and calligraphy– as well as the transience, impermanence, and imperfections of wabi-sabi. My study of Zen writings have led me to the practice of trying to achieve, while working on my photography, a mind of no-mind (mu-shin no shin), a mind not preoccupied with emotions and thought, one that can, as freely as possible, simply create.
I also curate and edit, slices of silence, an online place to read and view conversations about photography. Visit Blog
You can explore more of my photography at Visit Website
Nathan, after living in San Francisco for the first 44 years of his life, moved to Marin County in 2010 and currently makes his living teaching English Composition at City College of San Francisco.
You can find Nathan Wirth on the Web :
All the pictures in this post are copyrighted to Nathan Wirth. Their reproduction, even in part, is forbidden without the explicit approval of the rightful owners.