"The poet would be overcome by sleep and hunger before [being able to] describe with words what a painter is able to [depict] in an instant." -Leonardo da Vinci-
At times, sometimes serendipitously, an image becomes art. Dog-tired and hurtling down a mountain at the pace of a pious pigeon with no wings, in the simple attempt to make a deadline, one foot in front of the other, I'm out of breath. So muscle tired that raising one leg and placing it in front of the last feels continually like a new victory. Staying upright with a heavy pack and not wobbling to a fall into the dank soil is another. But in doing so, I breathe crisp clean air and am honestly overcome with the dark browns and greens of pines shrouded in mist like well dressed pall-bearers in an ancient church. That mist breathes into me like a jolt of electricity, while threatening to take that breath away in a quickly approaching cold front. In this attitude, I sit on a log for a moments respite, mandatory breaks becoming all the more frequent. In pausing, I see the air settling in and the trees inhaling it. The magic of a foggy forest overtakes me. A nascent Cannon Powershot, which to me at the time had an amazing 5 megapixels to write this memory into, is pulled from my pocket. A quick snapshot of what I saw is recorded. However, what I found later is that my emotion, my very mood matching the magic of the mist in that moment, is what I see when I review that picture. It's not sharp, nor is the composition perfect, in fact it is painterly and grainy, however the emotion I feel personally when I see this image is worth far more than the thousand words needed to describe it.
The above image casts it's own emotion. Dominated by the cathedral of pines and dark colors, the mood is one of reverence and quiet. The fog rolling in brings the ethereal sense of being in an enclosed space, but being aware of the magnitude of distance in front of you. The light above both draws your head up for a glance skyward, while forcing your eyes to the deadfall waiting to trip up your path in front of you.
Apart from these things, I have a certain connection to the image that no other viewer could describe the same. My eyes see those downed logs as welcome chairs on which to rest my weary body, as well as being the very object of obstinance over which I have to be carried. I see the mist as welcome quiet and coolness to an over-exerted mind and body as well as the impending critical nature of being in it's ghostly cold grasp. In seeing this image I'm forced with the paradox of being fully at peace with my location, while being pressed by the juxtaposition of a journey yet awaiting.
Thus, in these images, there is the latent emotion that an image causes one to feel, magnified by the weight of experience upon the viewer.
The greatest photos are those that both write the place and things into the mind, while describing the universal tenants of joy, peace, anger, sadness, excitement, etc. as well as bring to light the color of feelings that any single person my engender from their experience. Black and white, copper-tone, and vivid color are all rendered a new shade of vibrance based in the paradigm from which they are viewed.
The best light that a photographer is after is the width of emotional magnitude splayed out and back into a single viewer's unique eye.
If the photographer has any goal in mind, it should be to relay the emotion of a place or an event. Composition, Depth of Field, Color and of course Light all play into this. But if a person can mindfully pick a subject and use these things as tools relay the emotion considering it, more than a thousand words cannot adequately describe what feeling in its moot property can convey. Mindfully metering emotion into a subject takes that image from basic documentation of a moment into a project of passion, a sense of place that turns images into art.