This month's GGW Picture This Photo Contest theme of Best Ever has been driving me nuts for the better part of the last two weeks. One photo? My best ever? Oh that's just too difficult. Joshua McCullough, this month's judge, deserves a special place in hell for this one. Well, maybe that's a bit over-dramatic, but I really didn't like this theme. Usually I read the announcement and I know instantly if I already have an image I want to submit, or an idea of what I want to try and shoot. Not this time. So I agonized and looked back over my archives. I came up with about 5 photos that I really like, 3 of which have been honorable mentions in past GGW photo contests.
I read, and re-read the criteria Josh gave us:
"We are all learning and growing and marking our progress each day, each moment, with the aspiration to be more aware, more knowledgeable, more fulfilled. And there is no way to still that understanding to one moment in time, one frame. The way we see that frame changes as our perspective does. And what a great thing to be able to look back on that past frame, or out into the world as our current perspective leads us and judge that for what it is now to us at this moment. And that is what I ask of you for this months contest, to give me your best ever. That’s right, the BEST FRAME YOU HAVE EVER CREATED. Your favorite. The one that means the most to you, that conveys what skill you had to bring to bear at its creation and now as you ascertain what it expresses. Your BEST EVER!
In keeping with the GGW scope (and I suspect most of our interests) I ask that it remain garden or plant related. No people portraits or cityscapes. And I will not be able to read the stories behind each image. The image itself has to stand on its own.
I hope that no one will be intimidated by such a grandiose challenge. Even if tomorrow you make a better image or if you come to look with disdain at this selection in the future you will have already won the greatest contest for yourself, to have questioned everything and answered that for yourself, here, now, at that moment. And though I will select my winners for all our enjoyment and gratification this is about you and your photos. Please share your best with us.”
And I kept coming back to one line: The image itself has to stand on its own. This photo of the late afternoon sun turning an astilbe leaf into a piece of stained glass does just that. What you don't see in the photo is that I was perched on a tree root on a 45 degree angle in a full squat, that my camera battery was almost drained, the sun disappeared 2 seconds after I took this picture, or the impossibly ugly background I had to frame out while still getting the sun backlighting the leaf. For all those reasons I think this is my best so far: