Ascent – an absract of a curling leaf

October 09, 2007  in  About my art       Related posts:  

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!