Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Watercolor painting of hydrangea

Watercolor painting of hydrangea

“Ever since the invention of photography, making a painting at all is an act of wilful inefficiency.”
— Amy Whitaker,  Art Thinking

I like my photographs of hydrangeas.  I like this watercolor painting as much or more.  Thank goodness life is big enough to embrace multiple ways of seeing, doing, and being.  Efficiency isn’t the most important thing.

 

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The Beauty of Duds

July 2, 2016

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Out-of-focus but still beautiful

Heaven knows I have hundreds of unworthy photographs in my archives, and I tell myself that someday I will go back and edit out the ones I deem not worth keeping.  (That project is always on the back burner, but it is so much more fun to make new photographs than to go back and delete the old ones.)  Still, I find that I like some of my duds.  I see a lot of beauty in these two out-of-focus shots, for example.  So I will keep their digital files for a while.

My archive keeps growing!

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Trumpet flower, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Trumpet flower, Volunteer Park Conservatory

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people to see without a camera.”
— Dorothea Lange

“Cameras made the task of keeping a record of people and things simpler and more widely available, and in the process reduced the care and intensity with which people needed to look at the things they wanted to remember well, because pressing a button required less concentration and effort than composing a precise and comely drawing.”
— Michael Kimmelman, The Accidental Masterpiece:  On the Art of Life and Vice Versa

I am certainly guilty of often choosing the ease of photographing to the effort of drawing or sketching.  And while I have trained my eye over time to really see and pay attention to what I am photographing, it is true that I look differently when I am attempting to draw or paint.

To draw or paint means to carve out space, time, and materials (brushes, paper, water, good light, etc.), and that is cumbersome compared to snapping a quick photo with a portable device.  I can take photos with people around, but I like to draw or paint in solitude.  I like to think of my photographs as making art, equal in value to my drawings and paintings.

Something is gained by the ease of digital photographing, but something is lost, too.  I’m going to try to cultivate both ways of seeing and remembering.

Trumpet flowers with Lomo-ish effect

Trumpet flowers with Lomo-ish effect

Trumpet flower, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Trumpet flower, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Watercolor sketch of trumpet flower

Watercolor sketch of trumpet flower

Displaying Photos

November 1, 2010

Framed photos of trumpet flowers

I have a selection of my favorite photos framed and hung on the walls of my home.  I recently changed the photos in this frame.  I chose a few of my favorite photos taken this year.  It’s refreshing to change things up a bit, even in this small way.

Flower Photographer

May 6, 2010

“Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual.”
     — Edward Weston

Pale yellow iris

I never set out to be a flower photographer, but when I review my body of work from the past year, I realize that nearly one-third of my photographs are of flowers.  This was an unconscious choice on my part.  I set out to record my life through the four seasons of a year, and given the lushness of the Seattle landscape, my eye was naturally drawn to the ever-changing newest blooms.

I think my photographer’s eye has been influenced by Georgia O’Keeffe, one of my favorite painters whose work includes many, many close-up paintings of flowers.  I’ve savored many books about her art over the years, have visited her home in Abiquiu (which is now a museum), and have been to a couple of exhibits of her work.  It’s very possible that what I love about her flower paintings is what I try to capture in my photos.  I am drawn to the curving lines, patterns, and colors within a flower.  The abstractions please me.

Flowers are also ideal models.  It’s easy to secure their cooperation.  They pose so gracefully.  And they don’t require model releases.

I haven’t yet tired of taking flower photos.  I’m curious to see how this year’s photos will differ from last year’s.  I expect you’ll be seeing more of them in this blog.

One flower photographer whom I discovered last year, Jonathan Singer, now has a beautiful book out of his flower photographs.  It’s called Botanica Magnifica.  It was interesting to me to see that he did not always photograph the “perfect” bloom; you can see blemishes and tiny brown spots on some of the flowers.  Here is an example of his work from the book:

Jonathan Singer's Iris "Jean Marie" from Botanica Magnifica