Recently I found myself walking around Liberty Station in San Diego. The weather was far more pleasant than what I had been living through in southern Utah, so rather than hop from air-conditioned store to air-conditioned car, I enjoyed a stroll throughout the premises. One of the first things I realized were the seemingly never ending, repeating patterns leading from the vestibules to the hallways. They just get going and going off into some imaginary vanishing point. In that instance, I realized that repeating patterns have a special place in my heart when it comes to nature photography because of how much more goes into something like that.

With manmade structures, repeating patterns can be plotted out with cool precision. You can determine the exact qualities and iterations for a pattern to occur using a variety of architectural and CAD applications. When it comes to nature, the best you can do is plant seeds in a particular pattern, hope that they find purchase and grow as intended. But nature being who she is, success is anything but guaranteed. That is why I so thoroughly enjoy seeing clearly defined patterns when they present themselves in the outdoors.

A few hours outside of Portland, Oregon, used to stand thousands of regal poplar trees, arranged in mesmerizing, almost dizzying rows. They’d extend out in every direction and if you didn’t keep your wits about you, it’d be pretty easy to lose your bearings. During the fall, when the leaves would erupt in vibrant yellows, oranges and reds, you’d swear you were in some sort of fairytale.

Patterns also don’t need to be perpendicular to where you’re standing. Sure, there is an undeniable visual charm to seeing patterns radiate outward from where you’re standing, but that isn’t always readily available. Often times, I find as much charm in circular patterns that take on a more looming feel. Most commonly, this can be seen simply by looking upward as you stand beneath a canopy of trees. The patterns are certainly there. You simply need to be open enough to see them.

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