But there is a lack of specificity that allows for common agreement as to when this property of 'tension' exists.
In the context of photography what is 'conflict'? The listed definition of tension relies on another poorly defined word.
Show a group of people a series of photographs and some will find conflict, some won't. Some will find tension, some won't.
These terms are much too be subjective for anything more than creating discussions about how an individual is using the word. They aren't specific enough for clear communication.
I'm not sure what you're getting at. How specific do you want to be? 'Conflict' is another common word which has slightly different meanings in different contexts. If you're having trouble with the 'lack of specificity' of the word, again the dictionary might help.
If you see a definition of 'conflict' along the lines of ... "An encounter with arms; a fight; a battle", and that's the only definition you can find, get a bigger dictionary.
However, if you come across a definition along the lines of ..."The clashing or variance of opposed principles, statements, arguments, visual effects etc etc...", then applying a bit of common sense, the latter definition would appear to fit the context better than the former in relation to Michael's photo.
The fact is (in my view, I could be wrong) the language of art and common experience is a language of simile and metaphor. If we attempt to be absolutely specific about everything we want to say, we could hardly have a conversation about anything.
A simple statement such as, "The grass is green", then becomes incorrect, if you want to be specific. There is no evidence to support the theory that grass is green, or that violets are blue, or that fire engines are red. It's all an illusion, my friend.
However, we could make a very specific statement along the lines, "One of the properties of this leaf is its ability to reflect that part of the magnetic spectrum with wavelengths ranging between 500 and 600 nanometers."
The greenness of a leaf is a quality which exists only in our minds and imagination, as does the experience of viewing Michael's photo.