The submerged garden photographs are about embracing shadows and ambiguity to bring out a feeling or an atmosphere. It is also about allowing space to make associations that create an emotional response
For sometime I’ve been fascinated by Fleur Olbey’s image series Fog and Velvet Black Editions . The quiet, painterly, stillness of the fog landscapes and the plant portraits show a different way of using the camera. Rather than the ‘tack sharp’ images so beloved of photographic gear reviewers many of Olbey’s images inhabit an abstract visual space. A space that allows the viewer to engage emotionally with the subjects, even if it is sometimes hard to pinpoint what that emotion is.
The effect of contemplating Olbey’s work, especially the plant portraits, changed my approach to macro plant and flower photography. Initially I kept to simple black or white backgrounds which produced quite stark, graphic images. Over time I began to experiment with different background colours, surfaces and lighting setups. I started to move towards a softer look which lead me to thinking about shadows and twilight.
From Ice Images To Twilight
The series of portraits On Ice made me deal with accidents, both happy and otherwise. The freezing process, I became more willing to go with chance and find a way of making a photograph that worked. I would put flowers or petals in a Petri dish not knowing how the plant material would react to being frozen. How much time I would have before colours muddied, flowers turn to mush in front of the lens. A balancing act between image capture and decay. This balance point is also present at the time between day and night.
The changes that twilight makes seem to me to be analogous with the changes made by freezing plant material. At twilight it feels that the garden is being submerged into a mysterious dark sea. Several people have commented that some of the photographs remind them of jelly fish and other underwater creatures.