Silver Cholla on Silver Gelatin

There’s something about the spiny silver cholla’s texture on this grainy silver gelatin Kodak Tri-X 400 film that I just got to appreciate. Neither are the normal pleasant welcoming smoothness that things like modern digital images and soft flora like flowers or grass offer the eye. Yet the gritty and the toothy ought not be dismissed from the world either.

The grain in film is something that is today sought and even added to digital images for the tone it adds to an image. Unlike digital noise, film grain has a texture and a natural circular depth to it. It’s tough to put your finger on it, but it is part of the allure of film. It represents the absence of perfection, and gives a grittiness that adds a realness to an image that so-called perfection lacks. In reality, perfection isn’t perfect.

There’s also the power of black and white that brings out the texture and contrast of an image, giving it more mood. Like life itself, the contrasts of tone in this picture are like the ups and downs, good and evil, and all the other sorts of yins and yangs one can think of.

The cholla grows its spines to protect itself. The layer helps keep the heat off the plant and discourages animals from eating it. This plant represents resilience in the face of the daunting challenge of survival in a harsh environment. It’s evolution of life from eons of trial, error and determination. Yes, life is a determined force. Today, this is a symbol representative of what we all need to be in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges facing our own species and all life on the planet as extinction is now exceeding 1,000 times the normal rate.

This photo became an object lesson for me. We often judge things and people through a particular lens, but how often do we challenge our perspectives? There are some things we perceive as unpleasant that aren’t unpleasant at all when we add important insight and information and choose to change how we view them. We can’t be afraid to reexamine how we see the world.

That is all for now. I will continue sharing my perspectives through the power of photography. Hope to see you again.

Photo by Justin McAffee

Leave a Reply