Inside the Photo
Of the 30,000 photos I have uploaded to flickr in the last 9 years I’d guess more than a third were taken in my 1/3 acre yard or house. My guess might be totally off, but I have yet to find on a given day that I cannot locate something new, different.
Being home this Spring means I have witnessed our progression of flowers, the early daffodils give way to pink tulips, then red tulips, then irises of all shapes. I snapped quite a few tulip photos this year.
Sometimes, and I cannot explain why, but I am looking at the ground, the shadow, an object, and my gut says there is something interesting there. It is not fool proof, but that is what my gut said the morning I walked out and found this fallen tulip. The light was not vivid, in fact it was almost dull. These petals were laying on a rock– and here is my clue, it was not quite as you see it here, I slid it over a few nudges to the placement you see.
I find nothing “wrong” in arranging a natural scene, to make it more interesting. I have done this many times, with rocks, pine cones, leaves, bits of snow. There is nothing to say you have to photograph nature exactly as found.
But I also had an idea, so when I am looking at objects, I toy with the connections and contrasts. This flower maybe have lasted 2 weeks, maybe that its a short life span, and here it is lying on a rock (which from my Geology studies I know) might be hundreds of millions if years old (Coconino Sandstone).
The idea of time is what entered my mind in composing the photo, and it was not later til I was looking at the photo when I saw the rich parallels of the lines of the rock and the curvy soft lines of the flower.
But be warned, i am writing about this in hindsight as if it was all deliberate. I may have taken the photo, like many others, with a hunch it might be interesting, yet not really knowing why. For me, I find it better just to take the shot, and trust my gut that something emerges later when I am reviewing it. The photo turned out even more interesting than what my eye outside the camera saw.
It is slightly off center, maybe not a textbook rule of thirds, but I enjoy the balance of the off center placement with the rock space on the right and the leaves on the left (I can almost bet I slightly cropped the original, I bet I crop 95% of my photos to some degree).
So I cannot say there is a lesson here to follow besides trying to find that instinct to shoot first when it feels like something interesting is in front of your lens. To me the excitement is compounded when it turns out different / better than I thought, and then I can weave my own story around it.
But if all you need is a fallen set of petals on a rock to make an image that pleases you, what else do you really require?