Ascent – an absract of a curling leaf

by     /    October 09, 2007   

The leaves are really starting to shower down now. When the wind picks up and the leaves slowly cascade down all around you, it’s like being in the middle of a snow storm. Last week I found this leaf with a nearly perfect logarithmic spiral. It took several days to get this photograph right. I first tried shooting it with the spiral perfectly aligned to the frame of the image, but it felt wrong. Then while I was adjusting the camera, I knocked the leaf off-center (something that’s hard to avoid when working on a macro scale). Grumbling about my clumsiness, I looked through the viewfinder to recompose the shot, and… bam, found what I was looking for.

I lot of my photographs come from this sort of happy accident. But these accidents are not easy to come by. It often takes hours of hard work to create the opportunity to accidentally stumble on what I knew I was looking for. I need to spend this time with my subject in order to begin to understand it. While I am doing this, I’m taking a lot photographs that are (to be blunt) crap. But this work is necessary to establish a dialogue with the subject, which lets me move past the obvious images, and begin to see what is really possible.

P.S. Any ideas for a better name for this image? “Spiral” is just so vanilla.

Added 10/10/07: In the comments, Jeffrey asked “…I take it that if you had a vision for what the image should look like, you had a particular concept in mind, no?” When I say that I found what I was looking for, I don’t mean that I had a specific image in mind. It’s more like I start with a sense of the character or personality of the subject at hand. There’s a reason I picked up this leaf over all the countless others. It’s hard to put this character into words, but when I create an image that expresses it, I know. Usually my names then come from this, a simple description of that character. Some images are easy to name, while ones like this one leave me stumped for a while. Thanks for all the suggestions!

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Comments on 'Ascent – an absract of a curling leaf'

paula  (October 9th, 2007):

NICE. Very pleasing to look at…what a challenge to get such a close shot of something and have it been interesting and not lost in formless minutiae.
good luck on a name, I dont think spiral is that bad. The only word that comes to me is coil. Not so good.
enjoy fall!

Zak  (October 9th, 2007):

How about “Conch” ?

Zak  (October 9th, 2007):

No no, what I meant was “Nautilus”.

Jean Levert Hood  (October 9th, 2007):

Wow! Really nice, Daniel.
Hmmm, “vanilla spiral”?? Sorry, I just couldn’t help it!

Mark  (October 9th, 2007):

Sometimes I think it is best to leave some compositions to ‘fate’ – our efforts in trying so hard to create something special end up actually clouding the process.

staircase, wraparound, swirl?

Jeffrey Friedl  (October 9th, 2007):

“Sprial” describes the shape, but I take it that if you had a vision for what the image should look like, you had a particular concept in mind, no? If the concept was the shape only, then “sprial” seems perfect. If the concept related to autumn (the season, or of life), then other names might be appropriate…. “retiring”, “closure”, etc.

Of course, there’s always the standby title, “Untitled” 🙂

Zak  (October 9th, 2007):

Does the “winner” get a prize? Like a huge framed copy? 🙂

Daniel Sroka  (October 10th, 2007):

No, no prize. But that is an interesting idea….

Paul Grecian  (October 10th, 2007):

I like this Daniel. On a name – how about “Descent”?

Anna Chipman  (October 11th, 2007):

Oh I agree with Paul “Descent” is a great name! “Spiral” is just a little to blah and obvious.

Alexandrina  (October 11th, 2007):

For me it’s just “magic”.
Real beauty, Daniel :o)

paula  (October 14th, 2007):

checking in to see the ideas.
i have to say this is the second time i’ve seen it and thought

cynthia  (October 17th, 2007):

I’m terrible at titling work, Dan, but descent – or some other type of action word seems like it’s going in the right direction.

Love the photograph by the way!

Rebecca Finch  (October 18th, 2007):

I like the idea of the piece haveing to do with Autumn. After reading that response the word that came to mind was “Cycle”. Having to do with the continual repeating phases of the year, yet it still sounds circular. Perhaps it needs another word with it.

Lovely piece, by the way. A Captivating Cycle.

Lisa  (October 18th, 2007):

I love this photograph – really nice daniel.

I looked for a word in your description of the photo – figuring that you probably already named it yourself and didn’t realize it.

The word that jumped out to me was “cascade”

Daniel Sroka  (October 22nd, 2007):

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I really appreciate the help. The more I work with this photograph, the more I feel draw into it, as if I was looking down a spiral staircase. This makes me lean towards the name “Descent”. (ding ding ding, we have a winnah!). Although this morning, the name “Coriolis” popped into my head, after the effect that the motion of the planet has on the direction of cylones. I do love those oblique sounding names!

Diane Clancy  (October 22nd, 2007):

How about “Log Spiral” for the math part? I think it is hard work that contributes to these happy accidents!

~ Diane Clancy

Sari Grove  (November 2nd, 2007):

I have been working on a formula for a series on the beginning of time…it involves how spiral formations began which lead to planets, as everything is based on the spiral…The Milky Way is an example…So I was thinking you could name your photo ” The Grand Design”…but anyway, it’s neat because I have been thinking about this type of formation recently…really neat because it’s a leaf…(& my name is Grove)…or you could call it ‘Milky Way Leaf’ …hmmm