Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Cherry blossom pond

click photo to enlarge
"Are we to look at cherry blossoms only in full bloom, the moon only when it is cloudless?  To long for the moon while looking on the rain, to lower the blinds and be unaware of the passing of the spring - these are even more deeply moving.  Branches about to blossom or gardens strewn with flowers are worthier of our admiration."
Yoshida Kenko (c.1283-c.1350), Japanese author and Buddhist monk

Look at photographs and paintings of flowers and you'll find that the vast majority depict them in full bloom. Perfect flowers are generally thought to be best to represent on canvas or in print. Buds of flowers-to-be and the dying blooms of flowers past are viewed as less than perfect; the former because they hold only promise, the latter because they remind us of what was and what all life becomes. And yet, a small proportion of painters and photographers choose to show flowers before or past their peak. Why? Well, it's often because we are sated with images of perfection. Or that, in what can seem to some an odd way, we admire the look of beauty marred by imperfection and the symbolism of both promise and decay. Faded beauty prompts different thoughts than does the full flush of youth or maturity, thoughts with a poignant and melancholy edge that those of a Romantic persuasion enjoy. The quotation above by Kenko, a contemporary of Dante, reminds us that we can find beauty and something worth admiring in less than perfect circumstances.

It's feelings of this sort that prompt my annual photographs of emerging and dying water lily leaves and led me to photograph some hydrangeas that I found past their best in a church. The cherry blossom on this pond in Billingborough, Lincolnshire, probably provoked many photographs when it was on the tree, yet on the water it has its attractions too. I've photographed this subject before using a longer focal length. For today's shot I selected a wider angle to capture the beauty of the reflections and the massed pink petals before they discoloured and were subject to the decay that afflicts all living things.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 35mm
F No: f11
Shutter Speed: 1/500
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: On