Light, gesture, colour…

flower6Inspired by the incomparable Jay Maisel, I set out to experiment with light, gesture and colour.

There is a flowering tree not far from our boat (a Hong Kong orchid, I am told) with a lovely fragrance. I love trees in general and I find myself returning to this one often. At certain times,  the light falls on the flowers in a way that is irresistible.

So today I spent some time with the flowers, trying to capture a range of their gestures (placement of petals and stamens etc.) and experimenting to see how their colour changed depending on where the light fell on them.

I love listening to Jay Maisel talk about photography. He has forgotten more than I will probably ever know. The funny thing is that he speaks in such straightforward terms and makes it sound so easy, and when you look at his images, you can be fooled into thinking they are simple to make  — that is, until you try to replicate one! He has some wonderful videos on You Tube (Google them!) and of course, his new book Light, Gesture, Colour is just excellent.

Many people snap away at flowers and are quite pleased with the results. I envy them. In my experience it’s not easy to take a good picture of a flower — at least one that satisfies me. The ratio of bad to good is quite high. Is that just me, or do you find that too?


Here are some of my favourite quotes from Jay Maisel. They inspire me to keep going and keep trying…

“We have always wanted to find the ‘it-ness’ of anything we shoot. We want to get as deep into the subject as we can.”

“You will, in time, see and show others not just the superficial, but the details, the meanings, and the implications of all that you look at …”


“What you’re shooting at doesn’t matter, the real question is: ‘Does it give you joy?’”

“Always shoot it now. It won’t be the same when you go back.” (That is oh so true!)


“The drama of light exists not only in what is in the light, but also in what is left dark. If the light is everywhere, the drama is gone.”

“If you don’t have a camera, the best thing you can do is describe how great it looked.”

“If you’re not your own severest critic, you are your own worst enemy.”

But then, on the other hand…

“Remember that most people (those who are not photographers) don’t even see the things that you missed. Many don’t even look. Ergo, you are way ahead of the game.”



THANK YOU to all my readers…

I wish I could thank each and every one of you for your kind, thoughtful and insightful comments on this post. They made my day!

It looks like the weather is shaping up for us to leave to cross to the Bahamas on our sailboat very soon. So I need to turn my attention to other things right now and will probably be without Internet access for a bit.

I hope to see you on the other side!


16 thoughts on “Light, gesture, colour…

  1. Oh Sherry, I am so glad I stumbled upon this today…to have missed this beautiful series on your orchid would have been a shame…the color, that is my color. I shine when I wear that color and I see that you have taken Jay Maisel’s words to heart. You make those flowers shine…you found the light and you focused so perfectly in so so many ways…
    I watch his video on his new book…I think I’m going to have to add him to my collection…and I like his toughts on telling his story now…
    Thank you for always broadening my horizons…

  2. I can’t thank you enough for all this beautiful rich color and light! I really enjoyed the quotes and it seems to me that you have certainly captured the detail, the meaning and the implication of each and every flower here.

  3. Wonderful! Lovely images and text. Like you, I shoot flowers often but find it challenging – getting the “right” depth of field and the desired sharpness are tricky with flowers, as they seem to occupy so many different spatial planes, You’ve done a nice job in these with the balance between subject sharpness and background blur. I will look for the book – it sounds great!

  4. Beautiful flowers Sherry, love the way you captured them. I love taking pictures of flowers also but find it hard to capture exactly what I want sometimes. Thanks for sharing them and I’m looking forward to the spring and seeing the flowers bloom again.

  5. An interesting topic, I don’t find flowers hard to photograph or maybe I am not doing it right. I do love close ups and seeing the details, love the title of this and have really never thought about the quotes or gesture but they are really wonderful. Your images are always thoughtful and gorgeous Sherry.

  6. Sherry, your images had me see unexpected light, shadow, and pattern all culminating in awe and joy. I love the interweaving of image and quotes. You were able to do exactly what Jay Maisel predicts: “You will, in time, see and show others not just the superficial, but the details, the meanings, and the implications of all that you look at …” Thank you!

  7. Flowers…one of my favorite subjects to shoot, both indoors and outdoors. I’m waiting for spring trees to bloom…one day. I’m interested in the book and his thoughts about shooting. You’ve shared some beautiful flowers today.

  8. Sherry, these are gorgeous! The color, the focus, the light. Oh, I love them. And they fill me with a warmth that is not yet present in our weather. I’m going to check out Mr. Maisel’s book, it sounds like just the thing I need for shaking off winter blahs and welcoming spring … whenever she gets here.

  9. love this post. i’ve spent a couple of days trying to photograph flowers and have been more than a little frustrated. your post helps me to want to keep trying. 🙂

  10. Flowers are the toughest thing to photograph for me also but thery do give me joy! Getting the colors, light and subject in sync for what I want convey sometimes causes me much frustration and a gazillion shots. Your photos are all wonderful but if you are like me, they are just not quite what you wanted them to be! But we keep shooting in hopes of getting the “One”! Wonderful post! I will be learning more about Jay Maisel!

  11. Sherry- Wonderful images- you done a great job with these flowers. I am so glad to read your comments about Jay Maisel whose work I admire. Coincidentally, I just used his quote as my lead in my latest post. Synchronicity! I am going to check out his new book. Thanks for the tip.

  12. Yes, I agree that flowers are not easy. Yet, they are the perfect subject for light, gesture, and colour – as you’ve shown beautifully here. I especially like your third one, with the light creating that splash of red. I haven’t bought the book yet, mainly because of the price! Did you find a good deal for it?

  13. Great quotes and great photos! One, two, four and seven are my favourites. I think in two, four and seven, it’s because of the way that the curve of the stamens (is that the right word?) in the image centre echoes the curve of the main petal on the left. In number one, what I love is the illumination of the petals, the unconventional perspective (from the rear) and the complimentary tones of the flower and the background. Well done!

  14. In Re Jay Maisels eBook…this is One of the best books about fotography that I’ve ever read! a must have.
    And you shot some beautiful flower pics!

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