If A Tree Falls In A Forest

Gorgeous glowing light seems to radiate from this forest in the Tierra del Fuego National Park in southern Argentina.

If a tree falls in a forest will anybody hear the forest call? This post explores that concept as well as notions of perception and reality and how they may influence the way you approach your photography.

The above photo was made in the Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentina, right down the bottom of South America.

You’ll be pleased to know that, even if one or more of these beautiful trees has fallen since I made this picture, the photo is proof of their existence and of my response to being fortunate enough to have witnessed them and shared in their reality.

Perception Is Reality

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
— George Berkeley

Is the above quote, from George Berkeley, one with which you're familiar? It's a philosophical quote that deals with observation and perception.

You might say that the tree doesn't need you or me around to know that it has fallen and that such postulations reek of the incessant need for humans to put ourselves at the centre of all understanding.

Perception Is Reality

Still, given that's what we do, the idea explored in Berkeley's question is perception is reality by which I mean the reality each of us creates for ourselves.

That's a notion with which I agree completely.

What is Reality?

After all, what is reality? It’s an intriguing question for the artist photographer.

Thank goodness for the camera as recording device and for the artist photographer’s ability to imbue the scene depicted with emotion and meaning.
— Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

Some might say that, with no one there to witness the tree falling, we have no proof of the event and, by implication, it matters not.

I suppose the whole argument gets back to where we place ourselves in relation to the rest of existence. We can explore that argument through the following questions:

  • Is reality, as we perceive it, action occurring within our immediate zone of influence that's registered through our sensory organs?

I think so and some of those same sensory organs allow us to discover more of what's going on in the world via the media, traditional and social, even if it's from the comfort and safety of our own home or workplace.

I’m sure the buffer associated with technology allows us to see so much more devastation without having to absorb it in quite the same way as if we were there, in the moment.

However, this second hand experience of reality seems to me to be grossly insufficient.

While I don't want to experience an earthquake or Tsunami first hand, I do want to explore much more of the beauty of our world and its people through personal immersion and interaction.

A stand of trees in a forested area on the shores of the sea in Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina.

Existence and Reality

  • Do we humans have to witness something before it comes into reality as a subject, object, event or happening? Are we really that important?

Of course not! Just because you don’t know something or someone doesn’t mean it or they don’t exist. They simply exist outside of your current experience.

Thank goodness for the TV, newspaper and the internet without which the world outside our normal everyday experience might then not exist, at least to certain philosophers.

The Experience Of Travel

But what of travel? The experience of travel is that it brings into existence landscapes, people and cultures other than those in our own backyard.

The Art Of Creation

Perhaps this discussion is best left to the philosophers. That seems like a reasonable point of view.

However, I do believe that as meaning-seeking, creative beings we are involved in the act of creation through the art we produce.

Making photos allows me to participate, at a deeper level, with the reality I'm experiencing at the time.

What's more, by sharing my images through this site and via social media, I'm bringing awareness of the beauty of our world and its people to an ever wider audience.

My photos, therefore, enrich peoples lives by providing them with information of the world beyond their normal, every day experience.

I also believe that my photos provide folks with inspiration and motivation to get off the couch and experience the world for themselves. The rest is up to them.

Photography As Art

Why do you make photos?

I only ever wish to make positive, life-affirming images. The desire is to celebrate our world and build bridges of understanding between cultures.

Be Positive

That concept is also true for our thoughts. Positive thoughts are, by their very nature, creative while our negative thoughts are destructive.

The relationship between thoughts and actions is important. Watch your thoughts they become your words.

That's a good reason to catch those negative thoughts before they're fully formed. Doing so on a regular basis will greatly reduce how often they reoccur in the future.

Given that thoughts are manifested into actions, controlling our thoughts is yet another way by which each and every one of us can help to save this world in which we live.   

If A Tree Falls In The Forest Joke

It may be that this post is too philosophical. While I often delve into spirituality on this site I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this particular post.

So, just in case you were beginning to worry that I'm suddenly taking myself a bit too seriously......

I heard a good one the other day. Admittedly it's from the old school of jokes.

If a man speaks his mind in a forest, and no woman hears, does that mean he’s still wrong?
— Anon