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Etched in Stone – Virtual Petroglyphs

There are innumerable granite boulders strewn about my property, part of a five-million-year-old stream bed I have been told by a geologist neighbor of mine. I have photographed many of these moss- and lichen-covered boulders over the years. (They don’t move quickly, so even I can make a sharp image.) I have also photographed, at one time or another, most of the flowers my wife, Ana Maria, grows in her greenhouse. Recently, I have combined a few of these digital photos into “composites” by “layering” them – organic over inorganic – using a variety of blend modes. The resulting photographs visualize the way the flowers might look several million years hence if each flower were imprinted on rock for all future photogs to see and admire. The smooth and supple elegance of each flower would have been radically transformed by the rough and rigid structure of the rock surfaces upon which each had become entrapped for eternity. (This is the price that each flower would pay for immortality.) The results can be quite striking, from abstract surrealism to organic petrification. I enjoy exploring the myriad combinations of colors and textures that result. Ana Maria is not as enthusiastic. She prefers her flowers as Nature has intended.


I’ve posted both versions for you to compare, Nature’s versions first followed by its Virtual Petroglyph.

In this first example, the Lady Slipper is subsumed into the rock so seamlessly that flower and rock appear to be as one.




In this next example, the African Violet is rendered into several pieces. Flower and rock did not blend together without a struggle. It’s not clear whether the flower weathered the rock or vice versa. It appears that the struggle is ongoing.



An Air Plantis mainly that, air. It appears to float on whatever surface it is placed. But this air plant has been captured for all eternity. It will float no more.



These Phalaenopsis flowers appear as dangling sheets of paper, which have been petrified and coated in lichen.



The imprint of this Clivia appears to have been painted onto the surface of the rock. The three-dimensionality of the rock has come to dominate the design of this flower, and its colors have faded over time.



This Phalaenopsis has been petrified through the years and covered with lichen, appearing like a paper cutting.



This Cattleya, which is beginning to lose its character, has been shattered by the lichen that is overtaking its essence.



This Safflower, in its stateliness, has been nicely enhanced in its petrified state.



One of my favorite flowers, the Daisy, is simple and elegant. This one has been transformed into solid stone. It may last forever.





This is one of Ana’s spectacular Dendrobiums. It is almost completely camouflaged by its stony jail, the color patterns of flower and jail so evenly intertwined.




These potted Cattleya have been transformed into a Medieval painting.




Another Lady Slipper that has taken on surrealistic colors as its price for immortality.




Cala Lilies grow throughout our property. This one is gradually fading into its rocky prison.



These Cala Lilies were captured a few days ago. This “petroglyph” has only enhanced their beauty.



I only hope we all age so gracefully.


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