Visual Rhetoric – “Picturing Place”

My initial reaction to this picture came second to the knowledge of what it looked like in real life. It should be known that I took this picture myself. This image is of a tree in one of the major burn-scar areas in Mesa Verde National Park, taken with a Kodak Easy Share camera. I claim no fame nor professional equipment. I took this picture for my benefit, as I appreciated the organic lines of the tree reaching into the thundery sky. Though this was taken in a burn scar, this was many years after the fire. Park Rangers told me that the land was healing as well as could be expected, and that the fire actually burned away much of the old growth and reveled several new Kivas, (Hopi word meaning “ceremonial room” ) that had previously been unknown to the researchers in the park. The image has no name.
The image is dominated by a blackened tree in the middle of the frame, reaching up towards a gloomy-looking sky. The lines are reminiscent of other natural elements, (cracks in stone, cerebral tendrils) and contains only two colors; black and white, in different values of each.
Common symbolic elements in this picture could be nature, sadness, expression and reality. The absences in this picture are blue sky, leaves, growing things, etcetera. As a viewer, I might be biased towards the photo because I took it and think it is a valuable picture—but others may disagree. This picture adorns both my Facebook cover photo and my Twitter background, as I think it is a very classy picture in black and white. The affect this picture might have on people is entirely based on their preconception of black and white photography and something as “overdone” as a tree, but I believe the angle and shape is unique and brings something new to the table. Being aware of current events, such as the Black Forest Fires, may make this picture more meaningful now than it would have been a year ago.
All in all, I think Mesa Verde is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and especially because of its rich ancestral and aboriginal history.

What do you think?


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