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The Remains of the Day-Lily

OK, it’s a shameless pun on the movie The Remains of the Day starring Anthony Hopkins. And a nod to Christopher Guest’s comedy Waiting for Guffman, in which Guest’s character, Corky St. Clair, talks about how the “Remains of the Day lunchbox” makes kids’ lunches a happier experience. But I digress.

People have been taking pictures of flowers from the very beginning of photography. This includes some very famous photographers such as Imogen Cunningham, Irving Penn, and Robert Mapplethorpe. And why not? An infinite variety of beautiful subjects awaits. But beauty, plainly rendered, often falls far short of the original. For me, the challenge with floral photography has been to create an interesting image – one that makes a viewer take notice, one that says something new about the flower or its form, texture, colour, etc.

One of the things that continues to catch my attention is how certain blooms appear at different stages of development, including wilting and dying. Some lilies have fabulous forms as they are about to emerge. Lily and tulip blooms wilt into fantastical shapes that can remind me of all sorts of things – birds, insects, fabric billowing in a breeze. The intensity of colour in some flowers is such that it overpowers the sensors in many digital cameras. And with others, it can be challenging to capture the delicacy of tone that’s there.

I don’t take many floral images these days. But I still feel that they are a worthy and challenging subject for any photographer to pursue.

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