Friday, January 05, 2007

Blooming cactus!

click photo to enlarge
I can't hear the word "blooming" without thinking of Dick Van Dyke's truly terrible "Cockney" accent in the 1964 film, "Mary Poppins". It always amazed me that despite causing most of the British population to cringe in embarrassment as he dropped his "aitches", or should I say"haitches", and glided blindly in and out of "Mockney", Irish(?) and American, he was asked to mangle the Queen's English again four years later in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". What he lacked in language skills he must have made up for in song, dance and his "cheeky chappie" character.

It takes a certain skill to speak in a foreign accent. I am not the person to say which English actors can master a US accent. However, I do know that, for example, Gwyneth Paltrow can produce an excellent English accent, and that Anthony LaPaglia (an Australian) makes (to my ears) , a very convincing US FBI agent (in "Without a Trace"). However, his appalling English accent in the role of Daphne's brother in the TV series "Frasier", was almost up there with Dick Van Dyke in terms of its clunking awfulness. Perhaps directors who want their chosen actors to perform outside their own accent should first test it on some native speakers, and then decide whether to unleash it on the unsuspecting public. That way the audience might concentrate on the film rather than the rate at which the linguistic howlers appear!

Back to this blooming cactus of mine! It's a Christmas Cactus, and dutifully produces its blooms during the festive holiday and on into the new year. Unlike its offspring. This plant, another "Christmas" Cactus, of course, blooms at Easter! Quite why this is, I don't know, but it does spread the beauty of these flowers through the year. When I came to photograph the flowers I decided to try and get away from my usual macro approach. So, I selected a couple of the arching stems, and composed a shot with the blooms at the bottom. I used a white background, a white reflector, and put a further white reflector below the blooms. A single flash provided the illumination. The shot was taken with a medium zoom lens at 38mm (35mm equivalent), with the camera set to Aperture Priority (f11 at 1.3 sec), the ISO at 200, and 0EV.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen