Frozen Light renews the beauty of flowers by changing the way they are viewed; the suspension of the flowers in water and their subsequent freezing shifts them from the familiar to the magical, and restores the marvelous in the commonplace.
In the last month of 2007, a carnation fell against an old window, and overnight froze in the condensation that flowed down the inside of the window. From this simple act of chance, glimpsed the next morning, the images in Frozen Light evolved.
Flowers are one of the most popular photographic subjects – inherently beautiful, brilliantly colourful, and multitudinous. Most photographers have worked with them at one time or other, and as a result, it is challenging to show them in a new way.
As with the work of Dada artists of the 1920s and modern musical composers like John Cage, random chance plays a major role in these images. From the very first step, much of the control usually exercised over a creative process is surrendered; there is no predicting how the ice will form, or how that formation will shape the resulting images. The crystallization of water, the position of the flowers after freezing, the movement of light through the ice, and even the melting process of the ice as it is being photographed, all these random elements help contribute to the final results - images of Frozen Light.
One of the challenges of the frozen flower images is how powerful some can be, and how subtle others. In this case, the frozen African Violets lost much of their colour, but the resulting baby blue is most appealing, though how it will stand up next to more vibrant images remains to be seen!
The mystery of the flower emerging from the air bubbles in this image is just perfect - the sad thing is so much of freezing flowers is chance, there’s no way to predict how they will freeze, or what will emerge from the ice, as it melts. It is all a very mysterious process.
I was visiting a friend’s house, when I noticed a vase of pretty tulips on the table…as I was leaving, I asked if I could have one, to freeze and photograph. An hour later, it was in my freezer. This is the largest, and most pleasing of my Frozen Light series yet - it prints 87” high without interpolation (it is stitched from 18 frames, which were in turn assembled from a total of 141 frames, which assured the entire image was sharp front to back).
The quest for colours continues - most of the primaries are covered now, but there a good many combinations of colours which remain to be explored, such as this pair!
This image was a complete surprise - the calla lily was recycled from the previous day’s work - I’d never had a flower survive a freezing, but when the previous day’s flowers melted in the sink, this lily was unchanged, which permitted me to freeze it again - yielding a completely different result!
I was quite hesitant to work with this flower, as the petal was quite opaque, but I am very glad I decided to try, as the result was quite surprising. The colour bled out of the tip of the petal (on the top left), and while the red was completely opaque, it looked quite vibrant when overlayed with the air bubbles in the ice.
In the couple of years that I have spent working with frozen flowers, I have seldom had a “perfect” result, but this Christmas Cactus is probably the best I have produced. Fortunatly, this particular flower block was created well into my explorations of the process, and takes full advantage of all the tools I’ve brought to the images (stitching for higher resolution, focus stacking for greater depth of field).
As much as I have started working with complete flowers more than elements, occasionally single elements speak louder than the whole.