Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Paints & Painters

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Anything having to do with water and light is a natural for photography, and I've enjoyed shooting water lilies since I began hiking with a camera. Few plants seem to me quite so mysterious from the first stirring of shoots beneath the prenatal soup to their full blossoming. Many water lilies open daily at the beckoning of the sun and close every evening. No sooner do the flowers hatch than they are beset by a host of small things from both water and air that find their nectars sweet and their landing places convenient. The tragic decline of the lily under this assault is every bit as dramatic as its rise.

Using a polarizer to photograph water lilies is essential. The polarizer allows control over reflectivity. Set one way, and the image penetrates the water's surface. Rotated 90 degrees, and the surface reflects the sky. Between these extremes one can dial in the desired composition. The polarizer also permits control of glare reflected by the lily pads.

Most of the lilies in this series were growing naturally in ponds and swamps I frequent. Among the pond's various bits of living and dying matter I like to capture mini-scapes, and I welcome the detritivores that delve the crevices and graze the tablelands. Look closely.