Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Photographic subjects

click photo to enlarge
A couple of posts ago I was waxing lyrical about the Beatles. My attempts at photo- graphing a mundane cauli- flower got me thinking about them again. Yes, really! At the end of 1967 the band released the single, "Hello Goodbye" with "I Am The Walrus" on the B-side. The latter song was a John Lennon composition, whilst the A-side was McCartney's, though as with all Beatles songs written by either or both, the writing credits feature both names.

When "Hello Goodbye" was released it seemed to me that it was a work through which Paul McCartney said to the world, "I can make a great song about ANYTHING!" And in those years you believed he could - even something as simple as a string of opposites. At a time when the great majority of popular songs were about love, romance, dating, etc, the Beatles were in the vanguard of the bands that were extending their subject matter into previously uncharted territory; and that sometimes included beautifully composed gibberish!

So, what has this to do with my photograph of a cauliflower? Well, I think there's a lesson for photographers in McCartney's "throwaway" song. Just as anything can be the subject of a song, so too can anything be the subject of a photograph. Moreover, a great photograph can have anything as its subject. It was with those thoughts in mind that I took a trimmed cauliflower some friends had brought when they came to dinner the other evening, and tried to turn it into - not a great photograph - but a reasonable image. My first shots were details of the leaves and veins, but I wasn't too happy with them. Then I tried for a large section of the vegetable, but once more rejected my efforts. Finally I placed it on a black background in a darker area with daylight coming strongly from one direction, and made images of the whole of the cauliflower. I was happiest with these. My final version isn't a great shot, but the curves, the veins, the near symmetry, and the way the light models the subject has produced something that I like. It also, for what it's worth, brings to mind the acanthus leaf that forms part of the decoration of the Corinthian capital in Greek and Roman architecture.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm macro (70mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f3.5
Shutter Speed: 1/40
ISO: 400
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On