The birth of impressionism had an unpromising start. The critic Louis Leroy coined the term impressionist in the title of his unflattering review of Monet’s painting ‘Impression, Sunrise’ which he concluded saying, “Wallpaper in its embryonic state is more finished than that seascape.”
Impressionism was partly a response to photography, seen as more lifelike than paintings. Realizing it was hard to compete with the camera’s exact copy, painters focused on the ephemeral effects of light, and the passage of time. They emphasized their perceptions and feelings, with a riot of colors lacking in the black and white world of early photos. Now photography has moved beyond its early focus on the literal, and Impressionism has come full circle, influencing many photographers to explore atmosphere and mood not captured in a perfectly composed and exposed shot.
As October begins I see hints of yellow in the trees, but my camera still sees them as mostly green. So I turned my focus instead to a pond, the leafy reflections changing minute to minute as light and wind shifted. Ripples on the water turned the reflected leaves into oil paintings, the colors almost subliminal. Sometimes I want to put my camera on a tripod and shoot the sharpest possible image. Sometimes I just want to let the waves on a pond create the imperfect reflection that shows even more. I think Monet would be amused that photographers are now emulating him. Maybe he would have a medium format camera shooting in black and white with the sharpest lens in his bag.