Acer at f/1.4

by Ann de Bruyn

George Bull

George Bull

When I was studying geology, I was introduced to the idea of immense periods of time and the way they could be broken down into smaller units - I suppose you might call them 'chronflakes', particles of time. The idea of chronflakes has stuck with me in my photography, with a growing awareness that a well-made photograph can freeze, compress or expand a moment in time.

George Bull 4x4

One of the most colourful trees in our garden is the Japanese maple, Acer palmatum, which we bought not long after we moved to this house. Known best for its fiery red autumn leaves, its appearance changes every day as the seasons bring with them new buds and green shoots, tiny flowers followed by the characteristic spinning seeds or keys, dormant twigs or a riot of colour. The weather too, rain or shine, heat or frost brings out different characteristics. One day the twigs may be laden with raindrops, the next the leaves might be blown ragged in the wind.

I decided to try to capture one year in the life of this lovely tree in a series of photographs. We’re all familiar with big pictures of big trees, but I decided to get in close and shoot at f/1.4. In the course of doing that I got to know this familiar tree – a friend of almost 40 years’ standing in the garden – better than ever before. I realised too that it’s not necessary for a photographer to travel long distances in the hunt for subjects.

George Bull 1

George Bull 2

George Bull 3

George Bull 4