Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Daily Practice 47/365

Title: "After the still life at the end of the day"

Oh, I felt overwhelmed by work today - I spent all day writing a rebuttal letter to the editor of a journal regarding a decision on a manuscript. The weather was nice and I had planned to take a walk after lunch with a camera as a bit of a break, but that opportunity did not materialize in the end. We've also been watching the Olympics, which I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, it's great to see Canadian athletes (and athletes from around the world) do their best and some of the stories behind the athletes' journeys are quite heartwarming. But on the other hand, the network coverage with it's unrealistic hype and constant focus on talking heads over-analyzing and over-promising medals on behalf of athletes is becoming completely overwhelming.

Fortunately I took the opportunity upon coming home, before Olympics coverage, to set up a simple still life for my daily practice. The strongest image was this one taken at the end, after the still life proper had been photographed. I find it interesting that the composition here is the horizontal opposite of the previous day's composition, with the main subject hard on the left hand side of the frame. Both compositional decisions were deliberate, and both work explicitly for their subject matters. I also like the attention I paid to the edges - in painting, this would mean having a variation at each edge, and thinking about having the subject extend beyond the frame, not simply contained within the painting itself. I believe those compositional decisions are equally important in making a photograph. I see two benefits. The first is quite prosaic - this is not a vase, it is a photograph of a vase and thus showing that the frame of the photograph does not contain the entire vase is honest to the nature of the medium. The second benefit is the way this framing encourages us to continue the outline and shape of the vase off the "page", extending it with our minds. Congratulations everyone - you've just drawn a vase in your mind, by engaging with this photograph!

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