Bamboo Variations


leaves stems rustle and

whir, elegant in












Some of these images use intentional camera movement, either moving the whole camera or zooming the lens with the shutter open. One (the 7th, with bluish leaves) records leaf movement by using a slow shutter speed and narrow aperture (1/60, f22) with a (more or less) steady, hand-held camera. One was taken on a still day with a macro lens, and only after seeing it on the monitor did I notice the spider webs.

The first three photos and the 6th one all derive from the same shot: 1 second at f8, zooming the lens a little bit while the shutter was open. The 3rd of that series is very close to the original shot; the others were processed using Color Efex Pro for a variety of looks; the 7th one (with bluish leaves) shows a solarization effect.

The 4th and 5th images were processed just in LR. I reduced the contrast and saturation, added haze and made subtle selective adjustments (e.g. to the largest and middle stalks in the 4th) for a more painterly look.

That begs the question, why use a camera when you’re moving towards the look of a drawing? Good question. Is there any more reason to make a photograph look like a drawing than it would be to make a drawing or painting look like a photograph? Each exercise is probably of limited value. And must a photograph clearly be a photograph, taken with a camera?

Sometimes it’s interesting to explore the edge where a picture created with one tool begins to look like it was created with another. I’m not interested in gimmicks though, and I respect the the integrity of the tool, so I hesitate.

Still, it was a pleasure to explore the subject by making big changes in processing and using unorthodox techniques like camera and lens movement – and I like the results, so I may do more.


    • Good point – an interesting conundrum, that bamboo can take over so quickly, can be impossible to eradicate and drive people nuts, but is associated with very positive qualities like virtue, simplicity, etc. Maybe those associations originated long before anyone was putting it in the 😉

    • Yes, those last two aren’t all that pleasant to look at for more than a second I guess. But the fourth one is also full of doubled shapes too. I don’t think of it as having sharp edges, though the leaves certainly do. I think part of what I love about bamboo is the simple, repeating shapes of the stems, and then all the air between the leaves – that lightness. And the way it flutters so readily.

  1. Beautiful and interesting pieces of work, Lynn!
    Photos, digitally taken, are always processed by a computer (at least the one Insider your camera). So why not take your own decisions about the looks? I cannot see any reason to apologize for a look ” like a painting” or sth of the kind.
    Your choice of bamboo helps recognizing the traces of processing; I like both: finding out myself, and reading your hints.

    • Good point about the photographs already being processed – I think my hesitation is that it doesn’t make sense to me to spend too much time trying to make one medium appear like another. But it’s also true that we need to be free of constraints, mentally, as much as possible. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about the process too.

  2. I really liked this series, Lynn. Blur whether ‘in camera’ or motion blur in processing is fun. The last two are exceptional. Experimenting like this is always an adventure and something unusual and unexpected happens. I particularly like the solarized image. The colours are beautiful – a lot of my black and white work involves solarization and it can be guaranteed to add drama. In colour the results can be very unpredictable but like your image – sometimes they really hit the ‘sweet’ spot.

    • The colors in the solarized image were what appeared when I clicked on the effect, with not a whole lot of fiddling afterwards. I know what you mean – sometimes the colors transpose really nicely, other times they just don’t. Now I have to go back to your blog and look for B&W images that might involve solarizing! Thanks for commenting.

  3. I think these are absolutely super pictures and I think you should experiment further – and good to meet another CEP4 user! I especially like the first 6 pics, and especially especially the 4th down – and the 5th down looks positively Oriental! And don’t hang back at all from making photos look painterly or like drawings – I’ve always though such looks a sign I’m getting somewhere! NO, in my view, a photo must NOT clearly be a photo!!! Keep on keeping on!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. A fascinating post both for the selection of images and the questions you pose. My feeling is that these interpretations of your subject would not have been seen with the naked eye and therefore could not have been painted or drawn simply by careful looking. I dodged the issue some time ago – I am no longer just a photographer, I am a picture maker with the freedom to do as I please! Whatever you do, keep experimenting. I like the results!

    • That’s a very interesting perspective, Louis, that the interpretations wouldn’t be seen so they wouldn’t be painted/drawn, at least not from nature. And I guess you’re implying that since a painter would be leaving reality behind, there’s really no difference when I do. I’m glad you like these – a part of me still does enjoy a more straightforward photograph though. As usual,I find myself in several camps at once.

  5. The first time I saw a bamboo forest in Japan Lynn I experienced true sensory overload. The colour was so intense it was physical. Beautiful photographs. I just love your creativity! 🙂

  6. I love the creative processing you done on these images – they’re lovely! I’m a big fan of creative photography. A photograph definitely doesn’t have to look like a photograph taken with a camera – it can be anything you want it to be… !

    • I guess one thing I want to avoid is making photos that look like something else that’s already been done a great deal, but at the same time, the more I work on making greater changes in processing, the more it will probably become my own.

  7. I often travel a highway that is anchored on one end by the Port of Houston, and on the other by the Port of Galveston. Consequently, there’s a great deal of truck traffic, and a lot of shipping containers pass by. A couple of days ago, I was sitting at a stoplight when three trucks loaded down with containers passed by. Each was marked, “Bamboo Flooring.”

    I’d already seen your photos, and I couldn’t help wondering: would I have noticed those containers if I hadn’t already been sensitized to bamboo? There’s no way of knowing, of course, but I suspect I know the answer. Beyond that, the discussion of processing is almost amusing in the context of those containers. One sort of processing leads to an essentially utilitarian, earthbound product; another sort leads to a slightly unsettling, ethereal flight of leaves and stems. In fact, the blue image reminds me of birds. The bamboo seems already in flight — no truck necessary.

    • One of the airbnb’s I stayed in recently had bamboo flooring – like everything bamboo, it’s pretty, and smoothly elegant. Knowing you, you would have noticed the containers and riffed on them in your mind, one way or another. I like your observation about different kinds of photo processing. Maybe it’s no coincidence that my experiments veer towards somewhat unsettled, ethereal flights, a reflection of recent weeks.

  8. Love seeing your exploration of this subject grouped together in a collection. It is up to each artist to decide what they want their art to be … photographic or painterly. Nice write-up to let us know your thinking and approach.

  9. OK, maybe you were looking for the appearance of a drawing, but *I* think these look very much like photographs—photographs that you are playing with. And doing so with beautiful results. Wonder if you would have been this playful if you’d still been working at your job job. In any case, I hope you keep up the practice.

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