triadIn terms of portfolio development, this is one of my earliest digital photographs.  It dates from my days as a student in Lansing, Michigan.  I was taking a class on black and white photography.  As part of one assignment, I visited a local botanical garden.  The sun was directly overhead—rarely a good thing when seeking the best light for creating quality images.  But this time that high lighting angle worked in my favor.

As I walked through the rows of plants in search of interesting subjects, I noticed a group of potted philodendrons.  The way that sun was shining through one of their leaves caught my eye.  I wanted to photograph just that leaf.  But there were too many plants pushed together on the table, and even when I moved them around a little, their long, wispy stems defied all my efforts to control the composition by removing what I felt were distracting elements.  Finally I yielded.

When I decided to just go with the flow, I saw that two leaves—one from one adjacent plant, and one from another—framed the leaf I was intent on photographing in some very pleasing ways.  In addition to framing it nicely, they provided tonal balance.  In contrast to the light-suffused warmth of the main leaf, they were shadowed, cooler, and more reserved.

When I processed this relatively abstract image for printing, I took special care to preserve detail in the highlights and shadows.  Ansel Adams was a master at this.  The Zone System he helped to develop codified his ideas.  I have huge respect for his talent as a printer.  It gave me great pleasure to produce this photograph in ways that so nicely preserve and present its tonal and textural nuances.