Still Learning To See

A new pair of photographs dazzles!

I enjoy pushing the limits of what I’m “supposed to do” with my camera. I especially love situations where the subject is back-lighted.

A number of years ago I noticed a related effect that happened when I had a dazzle of light—such as sunlight bouncing off water or dew—behind a subject I focused on but with other out of focus objects very close to the lens. Essentially each spot of light serves as a source of illumination that projects back on to the camera’s detector with fascinating results.

In making this photograph of the seed plumes of ornamental grass, I pushed the lens directly up against some weeds, focused on the plumes and moved around until the drops of sunlight water in the background caused the effect I wanted.


Another example of the same technique shows the remains of flower stalks backlighted by the dazzle of the morning sun on a small pond rippled by a breeze.


I encourage anyone who wants to better understand the way this works to simply try it, but I have one important warning: be careful of your eyes! It is easy to get absorbed in photographing and end up staring into the sun’s reflections too long. A dazzling photograph is great but a dazzled brain is not.

I’m thrilled this lovely pair of photographs, printed for the first time, will share a space on one of the walls of the Governor’s Gallery in my upcoming show there.



This entry was published on June 21, 2014 at 7:41 am. It’s filed under John Snell, Patterns, Photograph, Reflections, Vermont, Water and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “A new pair of photographs dazzles!

  1. Deborah Leu on said:

    True art!

  2. Bro D on said:

    I love them.

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