Tulips In Sunlight

Bright orange and yellow tulips

These tulips were so bold and brilliant that I had to leap out of the car as I passed to try to capture them. 

It’s never wise to take a shot knowing full well it won’t turn out, yet I often do it, half-hoping I will be wrong. That feeling – too fleeting to be called a mood, but with something of the mood about it – is a double whammy. Not only are the odds stacked in some way against the shot, in this case by the intense midday light, but also the foreboding certainty of failure means you’re unlikely to invest the time and thought needed to get the shot right. You just squeeze off a quick shot in a half-embarrassed fashion, in the way you might spend a pound on a lottery ticket.

I tried. I failed. The weight of the twigs which the eye simply ignores or looks through dominates the original shot. It’s crooked (duh!) and it doesn’t really have a subject.

Yet I couldn’t delete the shot and still felt inclined to share the picture. Surely the brightly coloured orange and yellow petals in all that uplifting sunshine ought not to go to waste?

I thought, not for the first time, of Samuel Beckett’s line: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”, and I turned to Photoshop to see if the artifice of a filter could give back the image some of its radiant beauty.

In some ways, it does. The twigs, simplified by the program, create an effect like batik fabric or modern stained glass. The lack of a main subject or hero flower fades in importance as the image is flattened. It all starts to feel more like a pattern than a picture.

One day I’ll get a better shot of tulips in sunlight, but until then, this will serve as a small spark of inspiration.

40 Replies to “Tulips In Sunlight”

    1. Glad you liked it. I don’t enjoy all his work, but the bits I do like, I like enormously – ‘Endgame’, for example and some of the poetry.

  1. Lovely. And I enjoyed your description of your encounter and subsequent solution to what you perceived to have been a failed shot. I can’t speak to that not having seen the original photo but the posted result is wonderful! 🙂

    1. Thank you. I wondered whether to post the original, but decided I didn’t like it enough. It wasn’t a million miles away, but the filter lessens a multitude of sins.

  2. This shot is fabulous! Looks like a painting. And the dark, diagonal lines of the twigs growing among the tulips makes your eye go all over the composition in endless delight. Brava!

  3. I thought at first that it was a painting and that you had diverted your talents into a new medium.

  4. I feel your pain. I have too many similar shots that should have been deleted immediately yet I spent much, much too much time trying to salvage them in post processing.

    I think I should point out though that it is also never wise to leap out of a car as you are passing something. 🙂

    1. Wise words about the car. 🙂

      The shot can still have something we like, quite apart from its overall merit, or it can remind us of a moment or a possibility. I do wish I could be more brutal in deleting them – or less prolific taking them.

    1. I like the perversity, almost, in combining two simple words, fail + better. To fail better could mean ‘fail a bit less’, but could mean ‘get really good at failure’ or ‘fail conclusively’.

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