Sunday, November 23, 2008

Contre jour teasels

click photo to enlarge
The mongrel nature of the English language is shown by the number of words that derive from other languages. French, German, Dutch, Latin, Hindi, Arabic, Spanish - it seems that there isn't a people anywhere in the world that haven't contributed to English.

Some words are absorbed and the meaning is modified, as with the French verb "promenade" meaning to walk or take a walk. Though English speakers still use it in that way, today, in British English, it is more often a noun meaning the main path (and road) next to the sea where people prefer to walk for leisure. Other words have been adopted and the pronunciation Anglicised. The Hindi for a single storey house with a verandah, "bangla", was appropriated by European colonists and turned into "bungalow". Some words are absorbed with no changes to meaning, spelling and pronunciation. The French phrase "contre jour", meaning "against the day" is an example. Though English speakers do describe a photograph such as that above, as "against the light", "contre jour" is also widely used.

Winter is a great time for contre jour shots. The low sun is often behind objects that it would be above at other times of year. In winter, light is at a premium, so it's nice to be able to frame shots that emphasise it in the composition and effects. These teasels (Dipsacus fullonum), interspersed with dead umbellifers, were growing in great profusion by a stretch of water. I came upon them in midday light when each dried head had its own annulus-like halo. I was pleased to be able to include a lot of out-of-focus examples behind the nearer heads that I made the main subject of the image.

See here for more information about teasels, and for another of my contre jour shots of these attractive seed heads.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 150mm (300mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On