26 January 2013

Paperwhites (+)

These are some of the Paperwhites photos I mentioned taking a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately there wasn't much sun in the studio during their brief stay—not until the blossoms had finally begun to shrivel, that is...but I even liked the faded paper-thin petals scattered along the piece of creamy Fabriano Ingres (shown in the last image).

I adore everything about Paperwhites...the masses of unpretentious little flowers, their whiteness, the perky stems, that insistent, somewhat spicy perfume. (I find that not everyone is drawn to the scentincluding my daughterbut I think it's delightful.) When we used to live in the US, I would buy a few pots-worth of Paperwhite bulbs in December. Some time after the New Year arrived, when I was just beginning to get used to the emptiness left in the wake of the Christmas tree's disappearance, the bulbs would begin to sprout. Soon their stalks were shooting up so fast you could probably see them grow if you wanted to, and the flowers didn't keep you waiting for long.

I haven't experienced the joys of watching the scraggly bulbs come to life for several years, as I have never seen any here—not even the florist could tell me where to look for them...daffodil & hyacinth bulbs, yes, but no Paperwhites. She does have a supplier for cut Paperwhites, so that heady fragrance I associate with the month of January still fills the studio for a little while. It never seems long enough to study them as much as I would like, but I do have some photos from this year's bunch.

The two images fourth from the top (the sort of 'foggy' glimpses) show the Paperwhites reflected in my roasting pan. As I was getting ready to scrub it recently, I noticed how much character the combination of repeated heat, not-very-well-cleaned olive oil remnants (and heaven knows what else) had given it, so I took the pan into the studio to see what the camera thought. The dappled surface happened to catch the reflection of the paperwhites, reminding me of one of those speckled old mirrors found atop antique bureaus. So the pan ended up getting its own photo session too (I'll post a some of the images one of these days). I just love where things like washing the dishes can lead...




As it turns out, I didn't have a chance to publish this entry yesterday, and had some time to look through the roasting pan photos on the train today as I was taking my daughter to the Milano airport to meet her father for what is known here as a settimana bianca ('white week', i.e. a ski holiday). It was an easy seven-hour round-trip that got me home just in time for that lovely golden hour of the sunniest day Florence has seen in a long while. Funny that, no matter how brief a period I am away from Florence, it always makes me feel so happy to see the Cupola's shiny gold ball (the highest thing in the whole city) coming into view again...

My daughter was as enthusiastic about the photos as I was, but said she hopes that child services doesn't see them. (I do line the pan when I use it!) A couple of notes: the photo on the left of the second row shows another reflection of the Paperwhites, and the right-hand image in the bottom row is of a different pan, which has taken on an actual silvery patina in places.

As I photographed the pan(s), I was fascinated by the effects that occurred depending on what was positioned in the backgroundthe mostly overcast sky, the ocher plaster of the building across from us, the terracotta rooftops—and how the pan was angled in relationship to the light. I applied auto-contrast to the images (then in some cases toned it down); this brought out the patina in an unexpected, almost surreal, way. One explanation for the metal's unusual coloration may be that, for lack of enough kitchen storage, these two pans make their permanent home in the oven and are therefore exposed to heat more often than is normal. In any case, they have provided me with quite a bit of amusement!

Below is a manipulated version of one of the shots...I really liked the palette that emerged when I played with the colors. (The original is shown below it.)


  1. Hi Lisa-So interesting to see what sparks you. I love the fact that you were cleaning the pan...and then you weren't! The photos of the pan (esp the last ones) are really beautiful.

    1. Any excuse to get out of the kitchen and into the studio :)
      - Lisa

  2. Your photographs always show a special delicate view of things, a discovering eye, so to speak. I am all for editing images to enhance our personal view of the subject. The rich-coloured texture of your manipulated pan shot is gorgeous!

    1. I like what you said about editing images to "enhance out personal view of the subject." Sometimes a photo does not come out the way the subject looked in reality (due to technical things I don't understand...I am merely intuitive with my camera). Sometimes, of course, the photos come out even better than you expected, showing an aspect that you hadn't even noticed when taking the photo...always a nice surprise! Other times, for example in the case of those 'pan' shots, it happens that you are taken by the subject, pleased with the resulting photos, but are able to take what appeals to you about them in the first place and emphasize that quality.
      I'm glad you enjoyed them!
      - Lisa


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