i thought i had finished this assemblage when i first took its photo. then i added an element or two. then i removed them. then i added some others. then i removed them. then i added a whole new row of elements on the right. then i removed them. then i placed some very thin and delicate shapes in a couple of places and they filled some spaces that needed to be filled and then i decided that it was time to take this photo. the spaces between the elements were the right size and shape..
selected bits of early autumn
hip check the assemblage
one of my favorite pieces of advice about how to arrange a styled photograph is to get everything exactly right and then walk up to the table where all of the components of the shot have been impeccably placed, and give it a firm hip check. the point is that a perfect photo can sometimes be so stilted that it is no longer a good photo. sometimes it just needs a little shot of random energy in order to give it the messy feeling of being alive. in this case, i took a photo several days ago of these elm leaves that were in the process of changing from green to yellow to brown to black. the original photo was good, i thought, and nicely enough arranged, but i wondered if a little bit of chaos might make it better. this time, instead of a hip check, i decided to let the random force be several days of sitting on my kitchen floor. often when i let my nature arrangements sit for several days, they get better and better. this time, i don’t think it happened. you can see the original STILL blog post from five days ago. i think the original is a superior image to this one, but i also think it is sometimes interesting to look at process and not just results, and try to figure out why some things work and why others don’t. i hope you don’t mind my sharing a minor failure with you, in the interest of future success.
dried elm leaves
feather and stone
i picked these two types of stems because of the contrast between the hardness of one and the softness of the other. the feathery wands of the asters and the stony looking pebbles of the black eyed susan seed heads. that was the easy part. then i took about 50 photos and never quite arrived at the story i wanted to tell about them. at some point a daily blog makes you say “good enough.” the “good enough” days are the price you pay for those days when you had no story to tell at all, but because you showed up in the studio that day, however unenthusiastically, the art gods drop some gift in your lap out of nowhere. i like “good enough” days because i know that christmas will also come around if i’m patient.
white asters and spent cone flowers
science and art
i am as equally smitten by whatever scientific process of chlorophyll breakdown is causing the red veins in these leaves, as I am smitten with the aesthetic promise of those dried brown leaf tips, clenching their fists into what i hope will be a beautifully evocative rigor mortis.
(unidentified) autumn stem
i spent all of 2017 getting pretty good at photographing STILL blog subjects against a black background. they had depth. they had moodiness. they had a certain still life melancholy and an evocative wash of light across them. today i tried to revisit that particular mode, and it did not work. i took a couple hundred photos and threw them all out. i feel a little like this flower. fortunately this flower is on a white background, or you wouldn’t understand that line, because the image would be so emotionless.
black-eyed susan blossom with curved stem (rudbeckia)