Sunflower Loyalty

Sunflower Greetings

Sunflower Greetings

When I first heard Thomas Moore’s “Believe me, if all those endearing young charms” at the age of 14, I was struck by the last lines: “As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets / The same look which she turned when he rose.”  Those lines made the sunflower into a symbol of loyalty for me, a notion that has stayed with me ever since. I identify with the sunflowers, for their loyalty if not for their beauty — sometimes I can be loyal to a fault.

Sunflowers and The Tree

Sunflowers and The Tree

And sure enough, year after year the sunflowers come up. Toward the end of summer, whether on the famous farm in Griswold, Connecticut, or here in the cornfield outside New Paltz, New York, or in so many other places, the sunflowers smile and wave at you as you walk or drive by and sometimes serve, as in the image above, as a guard of honor for this venerable tree.

Smiling Sunflower

Smiling Sunflower

 

Praying Sunflower

Praying Sunflower

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are new images, taken within the last two weeks, to add to my sunflower collection. I hope you enjoy them. And please, think of Thomas Moore’s wonderful poem.

Some thoughtful neighbor has planted lots of sunflowers outside his home across the street from the Cottage Place Gallery in Ridgewood, New Jersey, where my first major solo show is now hanging. (No sunflower images, but there is one of a lighthouse.)  The reception is Sunday, September 14, 2 to 5 pm, at 113 Cottage Place. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop in to say hello.

To purchase any of the sunflower pictures, or just to see how they look larger and in different formats, please click on each image and you’ll be whisked straight to my site.

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Shameless Self-Promotion

Hi my friends,

You know this isn’t something I normally would do or even advocate, but I just want to devote this one brief blog to letting you know about some special items I have for sale–a limited number of matted prints (and two framed prints) left over from a recent show. Here is a sample, and before I add them, let me tell you that the link to view and purchase them is exclusively at my Etsy shop. You can also click on the photos themselves to go directly to some of these items.

Thanks for looking! — Next posting I’ll make it up to you by reviewing a phenomenal new book by one of my favorite photographers.

Sunflower Photographs: 2 + 2 = 2

Sunflower season is upon us, that time when fields are filled with endless rows of these dear, stately flowers. After trees, I think that sunflowers are the most anthropomorphic member of the plant kingdom: their bright yellow smiles and their spread-out leaves seem to offer a hearty “Welcome! Look at me!” to all who pass by.

Thanks to a tip-off from fellow photographer G. Steve Jordan of New Paltz (more about Steve in a future blog), I found a huge field of sunflowers on Route 299 leading out of town; they were flanking a big tree that belongs in a painting by 19th-century landscape painter Asher B. Durand. Nice! An “anchor” for my photos. And the eight-feet-tall sunflowers’ welcoming qualities came into play when I hid under them during a sudden rain shower and they protected me from getting soaked!

The sunflowers in the photo I’m going to show you here aren’t from the Hudson Valley, however, but from Connecticut: Buttonwood Farm in Griswold. I’ve been there several times during their annual “Sunflowers for Wishes” week in July, and I believe this photo was from my second visit. The barn wall is from a recent trip to the Delaware Water Gap with fellow members of the Ridgewood Camera Club, and so you’re looking at some artwork combining photos from Connecticut and Pennsylvania and made by a photographer in New York. Who belongs to a New Jersey camera club.

Starting by ensuring that the two photos were the same size and then cloning out the rusty nails in the barn wall photo, I combined the two photos in Photoshop. For the first one I dragged the sunflower photo over the barn wall photo. I wanted that wall to provide texture for the photo. I used the “Darken” blend mode with 100% opacity, then selected the flowers and increased the brightness. There are many different blend modes available, of course, but I preferred “Darken” because it made the end result look as if someone had long ago painted sunflowers on the wall and it was all now peeling. Finally, I applied the Color Contrast preset from Nik Color Efex Pro to make the entire picture a lot brighter.

The second version gives an entirely different result. This time I began by changing the blue sky in the sunflower photo to the rich brown you see here, then I pulled the barn on top of the sunflowers. Here the blending mode was “Color burn” at 56% opacity. It gives a rather dramatic result, I think; at least two friends have commented on the “3D” effect. Regular readers of this blog will know that I love to photograph old buildings, especially old buildings that are sort of hurtling toward a state of ruin. I keep fantasizing that maybe someone will come along and liven up one of those old buildings in Spruceton Valley in the Catsksills by painting sunflowers like this on it. Anyhow, please tell me: Which of these two versions do you prefer, and why? I’d love to hear from you.