“The only competition worthy of a wise man is with himself.”
The still life challenge made me realize yet again that I’m very much a conservative and a traditionalist when it comes to photography. Just because an object isn’t moving, i.e. that it is “still”, doesn’t necessarily make it a true still life image. There must be a strong element of Art contained in the composition and while I found many of the entries interesting and often great, from my personal definitional perspective it is a stretch to give them such a moniker.
But to each their own and it’s all about trying. As DGrin’s contest motto wisely says, “Win. Lose. Learn.” The winner, though, vindicated my personal preferences when it took the lion’s share of votes, winning by a double-landslide.
After my own first still life shot last Sunday, I decided to continue to pursue this genre for my next few daily photographs. I was intrigued by the question of just how much use I could make of the beautiful light from the front window and the big, glass coffee table. The vision of glass on glass, as it were, was bringing out my inner ferret to revel in all this “shiny stuff”.
The softness of the morning light was again used for the second attempt in this little series. This time the subject would be some dried flowers in a small, narrow vase that originally caught my eye as the late afternoon light slanted across the top of the fireplace mantle to illuminate it a few weeks ago. I wanted to make sure that the flowers would not simply be in silhouette so pulled out the small Ott light and positioned it to gently cast some light on the front of them; from the east and set about 45 degrees north of the angle of the cloud-covered sunlight behind the drawn draperies.
Later that same afternoon the sun actually appeared and, with my focus still on that glass coffee table, it was time to try a mirror image of the morning’s shot:
The next morning was another gloomy day but I wanted to carry on with the glass on glass idea so pulled out a small vase that contains feathers. Some of them were gathered on one of our trips to the Seney National Wildlife Refuge, and the “bouquet” includes a couple of exquisitely-marked quail feathers. Of course the markings would not be a focal point; indeed, they are not even readily visible in the final image, but was it nice to see them again since the whole little arrangement normally lives in the back of the china cabinet.
I wasn’t thrilled with this variation of my theme; in fact, I don’t think it’s very good at all, especially compared with the first two. This is an idea that needs more thought and more work to pull off so come late afternoon, I was feeling a bit disappointed, to tell you the truth. But Bob had built a roaring fire and as I sat here working, I happened to glance up and noticed the glass pitcher on the glass coffee table. From this angle, even with the light thrown onto it from the dining room, it looked interesting enough that I got up and walked into the living room and realized that there were possibilities from the vantage point of the antique sofa. I set up the camera and carefully took some shots.
I was very, very happy with the dramatic change of pace:
There would be no way to top this one, so the next day I took what will be the last pitcher photograph for a while:
It is only now I realized this shot is filled with subtle, personal meaning for me. The pitcher gave me a different perspective, it re-opened my eyes to another angle; a fresh take, so to speak. And the greenery, which initially caught my eye as appearing to grow out of the pitcher’s reflection, representative of my growth through this little exercise.
So I’ve won (my challenge entry was a finalist), I’ve lost (to a most worthy challenge contender), and I’ve learned.
I like that.