Fall arrives today (for us here in the Northern Hemisphere at least – context is important!), and I spent some time hunting for images for my Facebook cover photo that I have been changing with the seasons. I have been doing this collage design for a couple of seasons now, and I like it better than just a single image. It allows me to not only communicate a central theme, but also give a broader representation of it in my work.
Picking photos for a theme is always a nice way to go back through some of my older photographs, but inevitably I always end up wanting to tweak them to bring them up to date with wherever I am personally in my style and preferences for processing, techniques, etc. The older the image, the more I usually fiddle with it to bring it up to date.
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Well, that happened with the central image of this collage – a multiple exposure (12 or 16 if I remember correctly) experiment that I did in my backyard after a hard day of raking leaves. All day long, leaves were falling from trees on to the ground, spinning in circles as they come down. That was the original idea behind the image.
It’s an older image, exposed in Fall 2004, on Fuji Velvia 35mm film using my Nikon F5. I remember being quite excited when I received the slides back in the mail. (Yes, that was the process back in the “olden days” ) I had no idea how the experiment would turn out, and I ended up with an image I quite liked. It certainly appealed to my appreciation of abstract photography.
Fast forward 9 years, and as I pulled the image up on my display to look how it fit in with the others, I couldn’t help but note that it was a bit flat compared to the others in the group. So I started re-evaluating it using some tools that I didn’t have back then – luminosity masks, tonal contrast, etc.
So now I have a Fall Leaf Spiral 2013 Fall edition version. It is a bit punchier, more contrast, and updated to where I probably would have stopped in processing this image if I just shot it yesterday. It does match the processing I had on the other photos (which are all untouched from the originals) a bit better, and looks more consistent with the theme.
Looking at these two versions, I can see where someone might prefer the 1st, or some on the 2nd – I think both have some appealing qualities if you like this type of work in general. It is interesting when we compare things side by side vs. alone as an individual piece of work. Before I dropped this image in with the others in the collage, I really had no intention of tweaking this shot. It is by the comparison with the others in the leaf collage that instigated the desire to change it.
That is one aspect of photography that I particularly enjoy… if you have a good starting capture or concept, maybe it will evolve over time as our own personal tastes and habits also change. It leaves the door open for growth and exploration. And as Mr. da Vinci so eloquently put it, it is only abandoned until we decide to pick it up again.