Monday, November 18, 2013
Gratitude, With a Side of Milkweed
I posted recently on Maraca (my other blog) that I had become bored with photography lately and asked for advice. Truth be told, I was about to give it up, at least for a while. Among the great responses was this one from Barb at From the World Lens Photography: "Challenge yourself to 'take the picture you've never taken'. That's what I do sometimes, and I don't allow myself to switch to another subject until I've really, really explored the first one."
Well, I have taken a zillion random, so-so shots of milkweed in the field, and I was at it again on Sunday when those words came back to me. I realized I had never brought milkweed inside, where I had better control of it. It's always seemed kind of wrong to me, doing nature photography indoors, capturing or cutting things down in order to photograph them. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I gathered a few pods and set up the rarely-used light box. Here's what happened:
At first the seeds formed a core, packed tightly as a pinecone, wrinkled and brown.
As the warmth of the light began to dry out the pod, the seeds began to wake and rise, like ghosts lifting from their shared shroud, trailing white satin. I had to work quickly from there, they were changing so rapidly. But it was time to think about starting dinner.
Another comment came back to me then, from NatureFootstep at Catching the Light: "Most important, take the image when you see it. Never wait - then it is gone."
Right. Sorry, Hubby. The Shot waits for no one.
Who would guess, from the blowsy mass of tangled white cotton we usually see, that milkweed seeds are actually arranged in orderly rows, each layer waiting patiently for its turn to rise and fly.
With no wind to blow them free, their silks continued to balloon, barely holding on, sending more and more strands up to the sky, like ships raising their sails.
A simple change of perspective revealed an entirely new kind of "flower", one perhaps nobody has ever noticed before.
And just like that, in the space of a couple of hours, the thrill was back. And yes, Barb, I'll keep working with these until I've exhausted all the possibilities.
So thanks, Barb and NatureFootstep - and thanks to Karen, Sylvia and Colleen for your suggestions too, and to all who posted such encouraging comments. And thanks to you, Michelle, for hosting this meme!
All of you keep me going, in more ways than you know.
For more Nature Notes, join Michelle at Rambling Woods.