Monday, November 23, 2009

Dying water lily leaves

click photo to enlarge
I've looked at my pond several times over recent weeks thinking that it contains an image. I've pointed my camera at it but not pressed the shutter. I've also pointed my camera at it, pressed the shutter then quickly erased the resulting images. But, when I looked at it for what I thought would be the final time this year - as a potential source of photographs, that is - I saw a picture in it that I wanted. That image is today's offering.

Sometimes, as I've mentioned before in this blog, I find myself looking too hard for images. At such times I seem to forget the first principles of composition, especially the need to make images that concentrate on a few essentials i.e. simplify, simplify, simplify. But, if you look, then look again, then look once more, the pictures that couldn't be seen initially can suddenly emerge.

I think what triggered today's image was some reading I've being doing recently about how oriental art, particularly that of Japan, influenced western art, design and photography. A short blog post cannot hope to do justice to the impact of "blue and white ware" ceramic designs, Hokusai, Hiroshige or how Degas' composition was probably influenced by the exhibits in the Japanese pavilion at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1867. But you have only to look at the the successive borrowings that stretch from the "Chinoiserie" of the eighteenth century through to, say, Whistler's "nocturnes" to see how such things as stylized geometrical patterns, two dimensional decorative flowers and foliage, and "suggested" scenes that draw their strength from colour and tangible brush strokes, became embedded in western art. Another feature that the west took from oriental artists was simplicity: the idea that small things, parts of things - flowers, birds, people, leaves - set against plain or simple backgrounds, sometimes as silhouettes, often as points of rich colour, could be worthy subjects in themselves. Maybe the reading and the pictures I'd been studying resulted in my image of the dying leaves being the way it is. But then again, maybe not!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 36mm (72mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/40
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On