I’ve been thinking about George Washington today. Yesterday was Presidents’ Day and poor George has been lumped in with all US Presidents, great, good, mediocre, and forgettable, and he is no longer given individual national recognition as he once was. Today is the 279th anniversary of his birth. I’ve always liked old George and the cherry tree myth (or was it?) and I thought I would honor George myself by photographing cherries. I brought home dried cherries from Wisconsin and I have a large jar of sour cherries that might some day become a cherry pie that I bought at Costco. The dried cherries are shriveled and look like raisins, not cherries, so that didn’t seem appropriate. The jar of sour cherries is from Bulgaria, not the USA, and I didn’t want to use a former Soviet republic to represent George. I thought I might have to photograph a hatchet instead— well I still might!— and then I remembered a framed painting I had of some cherries with water drops. I painted it nine years ago as practice for a project I never completed and ended up framing it because I needed something to hang on a wall. Clearly, my obsession with water drops predates my current obsession with photographing water drops!
My challenge today was to photograph this painting without removing it from the frame so I had to contend with glare from the glass. I used my polarizing filter because I read that it reduces glare off reflective surfaces, allowing you to see beyond the glare. I laid the painting on a table and placed a shade above it to keep reflections to a minimum. And I set the White Balance to shade. I took several photos with the polarizing filter set one way and several set the other (dot up, then triangle up) not knowing which setting was the polarizing one (do I need help?). Photos taken with the triangle up show the rough texture of the paper; photos taken with the dot up still show the texture but not in as much detail. Hmmm. I think the polarizing filter works. But not for this situation. Showing more detail in the textured paper seemed to wash out the background. So I chose a photo with the polarizing filter set with the dot up. To make sure which setting was which, I went outside and took six photos of the white pear blossoms with the blue sky in the background, three at each setting. The sky in the photos taken with the triangle up is much more intense than in those taken with the dot up. I finally have my answer about the polarizing filter. My other issue was depth of field. The painting was on a horizontal surface and I was not standing directly over it, so, because I was using a large aperture, parts of the painting tended to be out of focus. I focused on the middle cherry so the droplet at the top of the painting is very slightly out of focus. The photo also shows all of the spatters and smears of paint that are in this less-then-perfect depiction of cherries.