Sunday, 20 May 2012

Two views of hawthorn

A sign that spring is well under way is the blossoming of the hawthorn. It's something Hockney looks forward to and becomes obsessed with during the brief flowering period.

On the right tree it can look like the foamy spray from a fountain or waterfall cascading along the branches. A visual impression that the camera fails to translate in a straight photograph.

Having made some nice-enough photographs in the muted evening light (which was a bonus for photographing the white flowers), using an out of focus background to make the blossoms stand out clearly I wondered if there might be a way to convey the feel of the blossom.

Zoom blur is a trick that can be overdone and is usually carried out to express movement - in a cartoony sort of way. What made me try it on the hawthorn I'm not sure. I think it was because I 'see' the blossom as being in motion. Quite a number of attempts were made, and if I was the obsessive type I'd have made more, and probably have further attempts, to try and get the perfect shot.

However, for me photography is all about speed of image making. Try something, if it works great if it doesn't no big deal, move on. If I wanted to spend time working at a perfect image of hawthorn blossom I'd reach for paint and brush. But Hockney does it better than I could.

No doubt most people today would have added the effect in Photoshop. Far easier and more controllable. Never looks quite right to me unless it's done manually with the camera. Even when well done it can come across as something added to try and rescue a failed photograph. Doing it at the scene also lets you try more options and keeps that connection with the subject that is a sort of feedback loop.

I quite like the way the picture below turned out. Sure it's not perfect, but it would never be great art even if if it was. If I get bored again while the hawthorn is in flower I might have another try. My boredom threshold has probably already been reached though.

No comments: