Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Squirrel's Tale...

   This has been the winter of photographing the near to hand and only what comes to me.  I have been gathering images of my furry friend Gaylord for several weeks.  But I have discovered that there is more to this photographic series than first meets the eye and therein lies the tale.

   Photographing Gaylord has been an excellent exercise in patience and discernment mainly due to the severe limitations placed on it.

   I can only observe Gaylord when he decides to grace the feeding table or hanging feeders and I can only photograph him from two vantage points, a door and a window.  Even that is limited to only 2 or 3 panes in each.  I can't think of any series I've done in the past that has been so constrained.

   What this exercise has done is to challenge me, day by day, to find another way of portraying Gaylord, to explore his "squirrelyness" from every possible angle that I am able to observe him from.  This has required that I not only wait patiently but stretch the compositional possibilities anyway I could including experimenting with different Photoshop techniques.

    This has been a fascinating project for me.  It reminds me of a Freeman Patterson  exercise.  He would ask his students to use only one white plastic lawn chair to create a series of photographic studies.  This squirrel study was even further constrained by the limited possibilities of accessing the "subject".  I would recommend that you try this type of photographic series.  Find one subject and explore as many ways as possible for photographing it.  Push the envelop and try some creative processing as well.

    Yes, I've learned a lot this winter simply by staying home.   Although I have to admit I'm itching to get out in the landscape once again, Gaylord has been a very welcome companion on this "staycation" of mine and for that sweet, small soul I am very grateful.  You can see my album of his images below...

A Necessary Disclaimer:

Deep in Meditation on a Sunny Morning
 Half way through this series I realized that more than one squirrel had a notched ear and it was clear that more than one "Gaylord" was represented in this grouping of images!

   It didn't bother me really as the purpose of the series was to try out different processing possibilities and squirrely compositions.  At one point, there were four grey squirrels on the feeding table and they all had subtle variations...I quickly dubbed them  all Gaylord! 

   When I saw the folio of images side by side I could easily pick out the different characters, they were really so different.  Perhaps they were taking turns having their portraits done.  Why should my original Gaylord have all the fun.  Now I don't give a moment's thought to which is which...they are all wonderful! The photograph above was one of my last and, really, it is one of my favorites.  This Gaylord sat for several minutes like this...basking in the sun of a rare warm morning.  Honestly, I will never look at squirrels in the same way after this winter's experience with these gentle souls.


No comments: