Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The rose

The rose

Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it. It is like the perfume of a rose: you can smell it and that is all.
- W. Somerset Maugham

A single rose can be my garden ... a single friend, my world.
- Leo Buscaglia

Can anyone remember love? It's like trying to summon up the smell of roses in a cellar. You might see a rose, but never the perfume.
- Arthur Miller

A rose is the visible result of an infinitude of complicated goings on in the bosom of the earth and in the air above, and similarly a work of art is the product of strange activities in the human mind.
- Clive Bell

As someone who deals with a constant stream of strange activities going on in my mind, I can fully appreciate that last quotation. This photograph was inspired by signage seen in Macy's during the previous holiday season. I fully suspect that those signs were achieved through a combination of photography and computer illustration -- but I wanted to try to achieve a similar effect in-camera.

So ... off to my studio, which is a room in the basement. The setup for this shot took many hours over the course of several days. I set up a white seamless paper backdrop and a gridded strobe fitted with a red gel aimed at it. Fiddled with the flash intensity and distance to the backdrop until I was happy with the effect.

I attached a plastic flower to a light stand and used it as a stand-in for the rose that would eventually take its place. I set up a gridded strobe to light the flower from the left, set up a white foam board attached to yet another light stand just out of the frame to the right to bounce some light into the shadow side of the flower. Nice.

I did some timer-assisted self portraits to see if the crazy idea would work at all and discovered that all kinds of red and white light were spilling onto me from the two strobes. Argh. Not nice. Fiddled with the lights to try to solve the problem. Created new problems in the process. Gave up for a few days.

Came back several days later and re-set the lights in the original setup. Taped, clipped and balanced more sheets of foam board on yet more light stands and spare tripods to block excess light from spilling onto me. The final setup looked like a maze of light stands and foam boards, but I finally got a shot of myself in silhouette with a nicely exposed plastic yellow daisy.

Went out and bought roses. Kept one, gave the rest to my wife. Nice. Convinced a model to walk through the maze and stand in place. Three exposures. Done.

This picture is kinda like love -- simple yet complicated.

Photograph © 2010 James Jordan.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is quite beautiful. I like it almost as much as the post yesterday.

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