“Fleabane & Dead Log”

Fleabane & Dead Log, Taylor Mesa, SW Colorado (c) Mike Utley

F43(S)–Fleabane & Dead Log, Taylor Mesa, SW Colorado
I’ve always liked the stark contrast between the small flower and the “eye” of the dead log–sort of a counterpoint of life and death, color and a lack thereof, softness and the dry, almost bone-like texture of the wood. There’s a sense of longing in this photograph, a loneliness, as though the flower is looking skyward in search of hope and compassion, and the β€œall-seeing eye” is perhaps blind to its supplications for love and mercy. This image was probably my late-mother’s favorite of all of my nature photography. She kept a framed 8×10 of this image on the wall for decades. It brings back a lot of memories. (Canon gear, Fuji Velvia ISO 50)

35 thoughts on ““Fleabane & Dead Log”

    1. Thanks so much. It’s a special image to me. Occasionally, while she was still able to get around, I’d take her with me on photo shoots. She accompanied me once to this location (Taylor Mesa, SW Colorado) and while I photographed monkshood flowers, she roamed about, picking and eating wild strawberries. It was a fun time. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Mark. This was one of those scenes that no one ever sees unless one is looking. It was tucked away in a random area, but when I stumbled upon it, it really spoke to me. I enjoy the simplicity of it. The hardest part for me was identifying the flower–fleabanes and asters look quite similar, but there are subtle differences. Thank goodness for wild flower guide books! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Grace. I’ve seen the similarity between the knot in the wood and an elephant’s eye, too. In that regard, it certainly gives off an air of wisdom and protection. What I love about this sort of thing–the ambiguity of art–is that one can interpret such things in so many different personal ways. I’m always fascinated when people look at my images and tell me what they see, how the images make them feel. It really shines a light onto how we view the world. Same thing with my poetry–especially my haiku, which, in their brevity, can inspire a wide array of interpretations. Glad you enjoyed this one. It’s among my favorites, too. πŸ™‚

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  1. It truly depicts the stark contrast between life and death. Beginnings are always fresh and hopeful but endings are wise and fulfilled. Love the bursting color at the bottom. Like a parent above and a child below. Wonderful Mike. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Terveen. I like your interpretations here. The young flower blooming in its youth set against the aged log in repose, almost like a little kid gazing up at his grandpa. The gray tone of log is the perfect neutral color to really set off the burst of colors in the flower. Thanks for such a nice comment. πŸ™‚

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  2. Mike this is so dense in meaning and a wonderful pick of nature’s possession. Reveals a lot about the correlation between nature and human feelings. When I looked at the flower again after the explanation, I saw a natural aspect of God’s creation begging for attention and for mercy and exclusion from man’s inimitable exploitations. What a wonderful pic carrying an intensely powerful meaning!

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    1. Thanks, Lamittan. I’m pleased to know you liked this image. It really is sort of loaded with possible interpretations, and it’s always fascinating to see how people respond. I’ve seen this image just the way you’ve described it, too: a supplicating flower appealing to a higher power, hoping to be noticed and heard. I appreciate your always in-depth analyses of my words and images, good sir! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, buddy. I appreciate it. It’s sort of strange how Taylor Mesa is just an ordinary place in the mountains, but I’ve made some memory-laden images there. It’s a place that inspires a person to look beneath the surface since there are no really magnificent natural geological features. Just forests, meadows, flowers, etc. But man, I’ve seen some real beauty there. Glad to know you liked this one, amigo! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind analysis. I most definitely see the struggle for life in this image, a tenacity in the face of all odds–the entire background is dead and gray and would normally evoke a sense of sadness (and it does in this image), but that little fleabane flower…so small and vibrant and vital as it reaches up and demands attention! I’m so glad you like this image. As mentioned above, it has deep meaning to me because my late-mother adored it so much. πŸ™‚

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    1. You’re too kind, Aaysid! That’s such a nice thing to say. It really did capture my imagination when I stumbled across it. A cool thing about nature photography is the photographer sometimes captures images no other human has seen or will ever witness until the image is shared with others. I think back on how fortunate I was during my photography days to have seen and recorded images that no one else saw. It makes it a very personal endeavor, and creates a closeness between the person behind the camera and the subject in front of it. That’s why I include these little stories with my images. I want to share with the viewer what I was thinking and doing when I made the image. Photography really is visual poetry. I’ve never written any poetry based on my photos, which is strange. Perhaps I will one day. Anyway, enough rambling from me! Thanks as always, Aaysid. So glad you liked this photo. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Rhyan. I think a reason it looks surreal is the curvature of the bottom of the log and how it fades out of focus as it nears the ground, making the flower appear three-dimensional. I used a wide aperture setting for a shallow depth-of-field with the knot of the log and the flower in sharp focus, and anything beyond that plane would lose focus. It gives the image a unique appearance and helps draw attention to the knot on the log and the blossom. It also increased the shutter speed I was able to use (shallower depth-of-field = wider aperture = more light hitting the film = faster shutter speed). This helps when shooting objects that aren’t nailed down and rigidly secure, like flowers that tend to move in even the slightest of breezes. There are other tricks for preventing flower movement in the field, too, but the basic idea here was to have the knot and flower in sharp focus and let everything else fade out of focus, even if just a bit, to make them pop a little more. (Sorry for all the technobabble–I enjoy talking about this stuff.) πŸ™‚

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