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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Twenty Eight: Using symbols and metaphors to express meaning > The Lonely Leaf, English Bay, Vancouver, Canada, 2009
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The Lonely Leaf, English Bay, Vancouver, Canada, 2009

The Lonely Leaf, English Bay, Vancouver, Canada, 2009

My good friend Tim May’s passion for symbolic “lonely leaf” imagery has rubbed off on me. Whenever I see a dead leaf curled up off by itself, I think of Tim. While walking the shoreline of Vancouver’s English Bay, I saw this autumnal leaf decaying on a boulder, its shriveled form emerging from a stream of lush green lichen, and my thoughts immediately went to images I call “Timesque.” Tim, by his very nature, is ever the optimist. He usually manages to at least offer a hint of renewal as his lonely leaves wither before our eyes. (For example, see the green winking at the crumpled leaf in this image of Tim’s:

And that’s what I mean by his artistry “rubbing off on me.” A few years ago, I would see a dead leaf as simply dead. But now I eagerly look for symbols suggesting a new life to come. While the leaf in this image may have come to the end of its road, in this instance, at least, the brilliant green lichen encourages all of us to think about the road to tomorrow. Thanks, Tim, for helping us appreciate such symbolic treasures as this.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1
1/200s f/4.4 at 78.0mm iso100 full exif

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Phil Douglis21-Nov-2009 01:00
We continue to influence and teach each other, Tim, as we share our journey through photography together. You are right -- it is the context here that defines the fate of this shriveled leaf. The green reminds us of its life, while the rock speaks of its ultimate fate. And yes, we always need to consider the nature of context as it affects the meaning our images.
Tim May20-Nov-2009 23:17
Ah, I thank you for the honor of being influenced by my seeing - here though you have created such a lovely and rich image. The lonely leaf has been vastly enriched by its surroundings. I love the green but I also love the line of the rock just above the stem of the leaf - it seems like a mountain range has been etched into the rock. Here you teach me to not only look for the leaves - but look also at where they are.
Phil Douglis27-Oct-2009 20:06
Thanks Rose and Iris for adding your thoughts here. I have come to understand Tim's great passion for lonely leaves, and this image is my own validation of such a passion. Thanks for noting the importance of the light as it creates textures making the leaf seem three dimensional. It was the play of light and shadow on that leaf that drew me to this scene. That dimensionality intensifies the shriveled effect here.
Iris Maybloom (irislm)27-Oct-2009 19:19
This leaf has a three dimensional quality. Brown and decayed, it looks like it's floating around in search of a final resting place. I think it finally chose a lovely place to rest as it descends onto this boulder, reminding us of nature's regeneration and renewal.
sunlightpix17-Oct-2009 19:31
Magnificent lighting, colors, texture and symbolism! Visual poetry!
Phil Douglis10-Oct-2009 01:47
I never photographed a leaf in my life until I fell under the spell of Mr. May, Carol. As you say, this is a mini landscape of its own, with rock and kelp and lichen to keep the decaying leaf company. And yes, it did land right there. I did not touch it. As you know, I am a purist about such things. Thanks for coming to this image. Knowing Tim's own work as well as you do will give you a wonderful context for understanding how I came to this point.
Carol E Sandgren09-Oct-2009 23:39
Stunning!! You too have a way with lonely leaves I see. Set in a landscape all it's own with beautiful layers of rock, stones, sand and moss I can really appreciate the leaf's whereabouts and wonder about its journey to happen to land right there in this special spot.
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