In spite of winter hanging on much longer than normal, with snowflakes falling in my yard this very morning, the ephemeral spring wildflowers are poised and ready to bloom. One of my favorites is Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, a delicate, white-flowered species known for the the blood-red juice in its roots. Bloodroot flowers are swelling in the forest near my house today and my mind wanders to some of my favorite patches that inhabit natural areas not far from town.
For a couple of years now, I’ve been visiting a robust bloom found next to a small forest stream, where I’ve attempted to characterize the “suchness” or “way of being” of Bloodroot using the video medium. While photography can produce stunning detailed portraits that are slices in time, video lends itself to capturing motion. “But wait a second,” you may ask, “wildflowers don’t move, so what’s the point?” Well, flowers do move. They wiggle in the wind and their form and color changes as light plays upon their surfaces. Insects come and go and silken threads (attached to the flowers by spiders and caterpillars) dance to the slightest breeze. One can also move the camera to create motion, or else document motion in the background, such as moving water or plants swaying in the breeze.
In the above video, I’ve brought together my favorite clips and ordered them to help convey the luminous quality of the Bloodroot flower informed by the depth of my personal experience of being there, sensually immersed in the bloom and in search of creative expression. Let me know what you think. Does the video convey something new to you, something unexpected yet wholly reflective of the Bloodroot and its immediate surroundings? I must admit that I feel a certain element of success, yet I know that I’m just scratching the surface of what is truly possible. One must approach this kind of thing as if one were painting a portrait of a loved one.
many years ago, when we still used film, and you were at Cornell, you were Norman’s (my husband) teacher for the Home Study, Bird Photography course. Then we heard and saw your presentation at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute Birding weekend. Now we will meet again, i hope, this summer when you make a presentation for the Chautauqua Bird Tree and Garden Club
Wow … that was way back when! I think, however, that I won’t be at Chatautauqua this year, but rather the following year when they can schedule me in early July for the bird. My friend Wil Hershberger will be taking my place this summer, with a talk about insect song, I believe sometime in August.
Gorgeous! What a great way to make video work for a small piece of the landscape.
Thanks Bob, and that footage was done without any dolly work … so maybe I’ll be out there later this week when they’re blooming, in an attempt to add some extra points of view, including the appearance of the flower heads when they all drop their petals. Telltale sign of bloom begone.
Bloodroot is one of my very favorite spring wildflowers! I loved this video. It captured the beauty of spring and the uniqueness of bloodroot! How lucky you are to live near a beautiful patch of this lovely bloodroot!
very lucky indeed!
I love how they quietly add their presence to the moment.
I like the word “presence” … it is basically the same as the luminous quality I mentioned in my post. If you’re patient in the presence of other lifeforms, it is possible to feel that quality. But if we’re running from place to place, we may miss it entirely, instead being focused on mental representations of things.
Bloodroot must be one of the most photogenic of all flowers but when in the focus of your lens it is sublime! This was a beautiful way to start this somewhat gloomy morning, but I’m thankful for the cooler temps for it will help these gems linger a bit longer.
I do believe my portrait is different from most, but it relies heavily on the motion afforded by cinematography. I’m glad the stream was next to the patch. As you can see, I played quite a lot with that element of the cinematic depiction of the flowers. Plus changes of the focal plane (called “pull focus” in the movie world).
Kathleen: I do believe my portrait is different from most, but it relies heavily on the motion afforded by cinematography. I’m glad the stream was next to the patch. As you can see, I played quite a lot with that element of the cinematic depiction of the flowers. Plus changes of the focal plane (called “pull focus” in the movie world).
I am gratefully able to see perfectly now but for the first 4 years of my life no one realized
I had vision so poor that I only saw things in brilliant orbs. I still love to see those orbs.
I am also so grateful to have the gift of seeing your work.
Oh my goodness … would that we all could see those brilliant orbs that you saw then! They were probably very special indeed.
I was showing barely blooming Bloodroot to my 3 1/2 year old granddaughter at the wildflower garden. Then she was looking further to see more that were budding. When I got home and found this offering I was so happy to show it to her. The beautiful sounds of the stream and the blurred lighting behind the lovely blooms were quite engaging for her. The delicate shadows on the petals of the interior structures was something it took us a little while to notice and the wonderful!!
There’s nothing better than connecting the dots, than having an actual outdoor experience that is further illuminated by a human artifact … in this case cinematography and sound. My goal, I suppose, is to help expose a different side of things through cinematography, but always being clear that nothing beats encountering nature in the wild (even if that “wildness” is found along a city sidewalk).
What an amazing woodland creature! Don’t have them around these parts (northern Ca) but the backlit, just-starting-to-open bud and all it contains brings to my mind the poem Saint Francis and the Sow, by Galway Kinnell that begins:
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing…”
But those leaves! So strong and capable, the honeycombed veiny texture and scalloped palms reaching up to protect those flowers! Thanks for sharing, Lang…you’re pretty good at this!
Thank you Martha for the Poem! How do you like the new website? I’m pretty excited, though invariably having to deal with coding problems here and there. The idea is to create a stable and beautiful canvas and then gradually fill it with nature art, miracle style.
To quote one of my favorite characters of few words, the Inuit elder friend of Farley Mowat in Never Cry Wolf, after hearing the elaborate details of his research and hypotheses…”Good idea.”
plus, an idea that will evolve!