Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Sometimes a Flower ....

I aspire to be a photographer. Three years after re-engaging in this once-and-future, late-life hobby, I now have two fancy cameras, two less-fancy cameras, several custom lenses, a tripod and a flash attachment that I’ve never used, several books I’ve never read, myriad batteries and chargers and memory cards, and a couple of camera bags that seemed like good ideas at the time, but no longer have a lot of practical utility.

Mostly I photograph flowers. One reason for this is that, being alone, I don’t travel very much, and landscape and architectural photography – which I also love -- are less available to me. But the main reason is simply that I love flowers. I used to be a gardener, and my mother before me was a really great gardener. But I no longer maintain a garden, and so photography gives me a chance to get out into other gardens and recapture at least in part that same feeling. Today it is nearly 100 degrees outside, and so, in order to indulge my photography addiction, I bought my own flowers.

My ultimate goal is to become a sort of impressionist photographer of flowers. I believe my best photos are like the one of heavenly blue plumbago in the post immediately below, where the flowers take on an ethereal, water color quality. This photo of gerbera daisies purchased at the grocery store has a little bit of that same charm.

By Divine Ms. Moon

Another thing I love to do with flower photography is to play around with backgrounds. The photograph immediately below was taken on a relatively bright late winter afternoon on a small table in front of a window that was not shuttered. The backdrop was a black table mat. I think it took on a sort of Rembrandt light quality, which is appropriate given that the tulip itself looks like something straight out of the Seventeenth Century Dutch "tulip mania" scandal.

By Divine Ms. Moon
Flowers can be metaphorical for many things in life, and sometimes I enjoy using my photos in that way as well. I confess to having a little Georgia O’Keeffe in me. I admired Georgia O’Keeffe and her amazing flower paintings long before I ever realized that she grew up not 30 miles from where I am now sitting as I write this. O’Keeffe’s flower paintings have often been characterized as highly sexual in nature. As I once observed to a friend of mine, who wondered why I chose to take so many photographs of a particularly phallic tropical flowering plant, this is only natural because flowers are in fact the sex organs of plants. It is indeed very hard to look at flowers for long without seeing the sexuality in them. 

By Divine Ms. Moon
Ironically, however, when Georgia O’Keeffe was asked why she painted flowers more than anything else, she responded that they were less expensive than human models, by which I believe she meant nude models. With a smile on my face, I often think that she was either pulling someone’s leg, or that she -- consciously or subconsciously -- made up for the lack of models in her sometimes highly erotic characterizations of the flowers that she painted.

Sometimes, however, flowers are just flowers. And yet, even as such, flowers can tell a story. This photo of the same gerbera daisies shown above, for example, tells the story of my kitchen counter in language only a D-SLR camera can speak. In that way, although it is highly representational, the photograph does take on something of an impressionistic quality. I am particularly pleased to have gotten these effects without using flash given the poor light levels in my apartment most of the time. It shows that, while I still have a long way to go, I'm learning. 

By Divine Ms. Moon
The golden objects at the left are nothing more than a few small glass jars that I haven’t found a use for yet. At the right, near the top, is my Kitchenaid mixer. Although tromp l’oeil effects like this are fun to achieve, they’re just not as satisfying for me as the watercolor, or in particular, the metaphor.

And I make no apologies for that.  Oh, no, I don't.

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