On photographing leaves

The house is nearly silent, the only sound is the indistinct murmur of my family’s voices in the basement. They are absorbed in a project and I am essentially alone.

My 4×5 large format camera waits on the tripod, its one eye drawn close to the light table, bellows fully extended, craning its neck for the closest view.

My collection of skeleton leafs waits on the table. I pick leaves up, one at a time; ever so carefully, lest they crumble to dust. I choose one, a tomatillo husk. I like the way it is not perfectly closed, how part of the husk curls away from the whole. And I place it gently on the light table.

I look through the ground glass, the camera’s eye is now my eye. Gentle touches to move the husk – left, right, up, down – the husk’s contours moving through white space, the smallest of motions amplified, until something whispers “right here”.

My fingers are on the camera movements, the husk is no longer a husk. It’s a web of lines, the camera movements are my pencils; now sharp, now soft, I draw an undulating landscape of black edges on white, this way and that. Until something whispers “yes, here is a map of this moment.” I ever so slowly step away, without stirring the air, and take the shot. And then return to the leaves and begin again.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s