Thursday, 10 January 2008

Between a Rock ...

I’ve been reading Freeman Patterson’s “Namaqualand: Garden of the Gods”. The book itself is a beautiful presentation of some of his images from Namaqualand, a region in South Africa’s Cape Province known for it’s unique and almost unbelievable spring floral displays. The area is essentially a desert most of the year, but when the spring rains come, the rock and sand just burst with a brilliant display of wildflowers. Many of the images contrast the wildflowers with the rocky and forbidding environment in which they grow.

While I’ve never been to Namaqualand (and probably never will make it there), I do come from a place well known for its ruggedness (Newfoundland, AKA The Rock). Going through Freeman’s book has inspired me to dig out some old slides from home of flower and rock. I wonder what makes this motif such a compelling photographic subject? Is it the contrast between the solid permanence of the rock and the delicate, temporary flowers? Or is it a matter of relatively simple composition that draws many? I’ll wager that, at least in my case, it’s a matter of both.

By the way, I highly recommend any of Freeman’s books; his instructional books are what started me down the road to photography as a serious pursuit. He is very good when it comes to discussing basic design elements, balance and composition, all points I’ve found are often lacking in other instructional books. And his nature photography usually has a thoughtful and subtle (as opposed to a Velvia, colour-saturated) beauty to it that makes it stand out from the crowd.

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