A New Project for 2017
Well, it's 2017. I can't quite believe that. Frankly 2016 kicked me in the nuts so I'm happy to put that in the rearview. So, I'm starting the new year off with a commitment to myself produce more work and feed those creative juices that keep me happy.
This new project I'm starting is focusing on macro images of botanicals in ice. It's been in my head for quite some time and I'm motivated to see where it goes. These tangental projects are great because I don't enter them with a preconceived idea of what I want the final result to look like. Pre-visualization is critical to my landscape work to get the framing how I want in the field. I consider this kind of project to be much more free form and it provides the balance I need between my polar creative forces.
How I did it
The process is really simple. Miraculously we had a few roses still blooming this week in the 20 degree weather. I snipped off two of them and put them in a deep clear casserole dish with a bit of dish soap mixed in. Why the dish soap? No idea honestly. I was thinking it might add more variability to the ice block as it formed or could effect surface tension to make the flowers sink. Whether it did either of those things time will have to tell as I experiment further. I put the dish in the garage freezer over night and hoped for the best.
The second step was creating the right space to photograph it. I experimented with different light and darkly colored background to set the dish on. I ultimately thought the darker options were too busy so I opted for the surface of my son's worktable that is white. Lighting is critical here. I tried several options again and went with diffuse non-direct, natural light. Direct light of any kind creates specular highlights like crazy. It is ice after all. I also used a spray bottle with tap water to help along the melting process. Right out of the fridge the surface of the ice is cloudy.
The Mental Process of Processing
Again, I had no idea where I was headed with respect to processing. In the end, I wanted to create something very textural as this is the special element that the ice helps to create and makes it visually distinct. Focusing on mid-tone contrast was crucial to the evolution towards my end result. It pops the flaws in the ice and helps to create parity between the smooth organic nature of your typical flower macro shot and the harsh look and feel of winter making a nice full circle concept, ice/winter as the ultimate destroyer and floral/spring representing renewal and growth. That's pretty high brow stuff for a floral macro I know but that's how my brain works, deal with it. I added the sepia tone to give it a more timeless feel and because it felt too cold and my intent was not to push towards the conceptually dark end of the spectrum. Winter will have its day but not quite so overwhelmingly here.
If you try this out on your own, and I encourage you to, don't get discouraged with how it initially looks. No you can't see my unedited shot. Part of the fun in the exercise for me is allowing your creativity to bounce wherever it wants through the editing process. It's one of the things that makes photography more unique as an artistic medium. Try this with paint. Ugh.
Until next time.