what happens when you find yourself mulling over the concept of photographers being "professional noticers", reading Kirk Tuck's blog and gardening all within a few hours? you finish pruning the old seed stalks from your aloe, and instead of throwing them in the compost as always, you notice that they're actually quite graceful. you then decide that maybe you could play with doing some portraits of them, which is something you've never really done before, but why not? grabbed some black foam core, my relatively new Contax/Phase digital back, put on some Radio Paradise, and headed out to the back deck. secured the background to the back of a chair, gathered my various clippings and had a blast. i tried some in full sun, playing with the shadow in relation to the stalk. then i setup at the edge of the shade created by the neighbor's trees. the breeze was variable, which was fantastic - i would position the setup and then wait for a light pattern i liked as the tree branches swayed, creating different shadows. i would move the setup around on the deck as the sun moved, which gave me tons of new opportunities. i found myself just standing there watching until the right breeze/pattern came along, just as i would wait for the right light/shadow combination if i were "in the field". at the end of two afternoon sessions, i had about 200 shots. this image caught my eye after a quick review. for some reason, i just got a kick out of the grace and at the same time, tension of the composition. yes, i re-took the shot with the base level, but you know what? i think it adds to the subtle tension of a balancing stalk. you? nice stretch.