One Year Ago Today / by Graham Dew

Feather, Spring 2011

One year ago today I was off work with an illness that was both undiagnosed and untreated. I had by then been off work for more than two months in some considerable pain. But the weather was beautiful and spring-like, so I dragged myself out of the house up to Cheesefoot Head to take advantage of the sunshine and the warmth. It was good, the sunshine and warmth were what I needed.  I was not going to be walking far that day, so my focus was on small details, especially those that hinted at the arrival of spring. 

Until the arrival of the G3, my small LX3 compact was always my camera of choice. The most remarkable aspect of this jewel of a machine is its wonderful lens that focuses right down to almost nothing. Because it does this at the wide end of the zoom range, it can create powerful images of very small details set in context against a background environment. It was the main reason why I bought the camera in the first place, and is why I won’t buy a macro lens for the G3. I’m not interested in isolating details as one does in conventional macro photography; I want to show the subject in context. 

When you start photographing very small details like the feather, it forces you to look long and hard at almost everything, and pictures can be plucked from seemingly unlikely places. Feathers act as useful metaphors for me. They suggest delicacy, fragility and impermanence. Easily blown away by forces that they cannot resist, they can intimate vulnerability and insecurity. Which is how I was feeling at the time, and why I felt drawn to make a picture of this tiny feather.