Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion Angustifolium) is a tall plant and a very successful coloniser. From June to September it forms dense stands of bright pink flower spikes in woodland clearings, verges and close to the coast. As the flowers fade the seeds reveal themselves and are scattered in the wind supported by their cottony parachutes.
In the south of England, Rosebay Willowherb is known as Bombweed because of its successful colonisation of sites after the second World War, following the clearance of forests and the burning of the ground in towns and cities. Also known as Fireweed because of the positive effect of fires and bonfires in germinating the seeds across the landscape.
I had seen lots of Rosebay Willowherb last year at one of my favourite dog-walking spots – Skinidin on the Isle of Skye. At the same time, I had taken some photographs of the reeds with a slow shutter speed, allowing the reeds to paint their own picture and tell their own story.
So, I decided to try a similar technique with the pink stands growing vigorously between the path and the water. It was a sunny day, but the wind was brisk as I walked along the shore.
The movement of the Rosebay was fluctuating between a gentle sway in the breeze to more violent and frenzied activity of the whole stand. I experimented using a range of slow shutter speeds and of course, the speed of the wind also provided for different effects. Needless to say, these are my first attempts and the images and the processing of them is very much work in progress.
After being quite sure that these images should be in colour given the vibrant pink against the dark green stems, I experimented with black and white.
While my immediate sense of the story and the essence of these prolific plants was “pink” I am also very taken by the black and white images which take away the “chatter” of the colour and reduce the image to focus on the frenzied movement of the seed heads, its vigorous germination, readying itself for next year’s natural cycle.
As I reflected on my dilemma, I also saw, in the movement of the stems, a rapid transition between emergence and withdrawal of the reality of the Rosebay Willowherb. So, maybe the essence of this vigorous flower is more about the process of reproduction and survival rather than “pink”.
So my Image of the Week is Rosebay Willowherb 13 above.
What do you think? Please leave your thoughts. . .