by Sharmagne Leland-St. John
       after the photo "Reflections" by Vandana Bajikar

         To paint is to love again.
         –Henry Miller


If I didn't know better I would think
this was a plein air watercolour
rather than a photograph.

I would imagine the artist
separating the cold press
watercolour block into halves
with a blue #2 pencil.

Adding water only to the bottom portion
then carefully but quickly
painting "wet on wet".

Choosing Alizarin Crimson for the reds,
Yellow Ochre for the yellows,
perhaps mixing her own green
for a rich natural shade,
Burnt Umber with a touch
of black for the dark tree trunks.

I picture her, paint brush in hand,
head cocked patiently waiting
for the block to dry,

Then squinting her eyes
to capture the negative areas
of the forest–
to paint those in first,
then splash paint around them,

Squeezing out more colours
onto her palette
from wrinkled
Windsor & Newton
zinc tubes.

Maybe she'd use
a dry stipple brush
for the foliage.

Knowing exactly when to stop
so she doesn't ruin it,
I see her standing back
and admiring her work.

Satisfied, she looks away.

That's exactly how I would paint it
if I were to copy the photograph.


     A good photograph is knowing where to stand
     –Ansel Adams

So now I wonder
did she stumble across this view
and "make" the photo?
Ansel says:
"You don't take a photograph,
you make it"

Did she have to wait
for the sun to create
just the right long shadows
for the reflection to come alive?
Did she have to wait for the wind
to die down so there were no ripples?

Or did her expert eye
see the image she wanted,
and did she then move
to the exact right spot and
bring the camera up slowly
to capture the perfect Autumn scene?


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