click photo to enlarge
"There is material enough in a single flower for the ornament of a score of cathedrals."
John Ruskin (1819-1900), art critic, social thinker and writer, from "The Stones of Venice" (1851)
We are used to flowers because they are all around us - in the countryside, in urban wasteland, in our gardens, parks, streets, shops, houses - everywhere. We look at them often. But do we see them? There are those that say there is no distinction between the two words, "looking" and "seeing". I think there is, and five or so years ago I tried to articulate that difference in a blog post called, "Looking and seeing".
The quotation at the top of this post has always interested me. What was Ruskin trying to get at with these words? I've always thought that he had two main points in mind. Firstly, perhaps, there's a veiled criticism of the fecundity of building ornament of his time: too many sources of inspiration where one or few would serve better. That architects should extract more from less when searching for ornamental design. Then, more importantly, is the suggestion that people should train themselves to look more closely - to see better - so that the richness of objects and the possibilities within them become more apparent.
Looking at today's photographs of the flower, Viola "Magnifico", I was reminded of Ruskin's words. It's true that you can see a multitude of points of interest in a single bloom. Here I like the colour combinations and the way each bleeds into its neighbour. The symmetry of the petal arrangement, their deckle edges and the striking markings of the centre of each bloom are also eye-catching. Then I like the way the flowers look like they have been designed by someone with wet water-colour paper and a heavily laden brush. And finally there is how the distant blooms and the leaves merge in the blur to enhance that suggestion that this is a painting and not a photograph.
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Canon 5DMk2
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 100mm Macro
F No: f4
Shutter Speed: 1/250
Exposure Compensation: 0
Image Stabilisation: On