About C Ribet Theme Nomenclature


Coming up with a verbal description of work is ever changing

Perhaps surpisingly, it is actually a lot easier to name individual images than it is to come up with a way to categorize the water images which are my current focus. Over the years the kinds of themes and levels of abstraction present in these images have shifted. Some are very subtle and delicate photgraphs. Some photographs are very bold and vivid. Some appear to tell detailed stories or conjure specific imagery in people I talk to about what they see in them. Others are  just providing moods without any particular focus. It makes it very hard to label them generically as a class of photography, or even as a theme of art.

Are these images abstract photography? Some call them that, and some most certainly. Some have called them still lifes. One can label them from a technical perspective as 'macro' or 'extreme macro' photographs, but that does nothing to provide any indication of what sorts of images they are in color, mood, shape, and the like. So what is one to do?


Water Orbs
Originally, when they were more simplistic and less abstract, I simply referred to them as water orb images or images of water. In those earlier images it was always quite clear what the subject matter was (rain, dew, mizzle, mist and the like on plants and other things I encountered out in the 'duff' while hunting mushrooms). Mostly I captured the round orb shape of droplets, either as solitary water droplets or as massed droplet groupings as found often after and during the heavy heavy mist (mizzle) or dews that frequently occur in this region (Santa Cruz mountains of California). While the reflections, transmissions and lensing of the light caused each individual print to be very different from another, the subject matter from a more objective viewpoint was technically apparent.

Then, as I worked more to explore this genre, the images became more abstracted from the more obvious state of dewdrops on foliage. The fact that they were water became less and less obvoius. More and more people were asking me if they were actually paintings rather than photographs. Many could not discern the subject matter that resulted in the photograph. However, the fundamental aspect or the orb and arc of water, dew and rain drops still in my mind at least domninated the images. Many of them I chose were very much like miniature landscapes with sky, rolling hills, seasons, horizons and all the things I saw in my more traditional landscape photography of the California oaks, oak savannas and hilldsides. I then started to refer to them collectively as 'orbscapes' thematically and as a descriptor for individual images. This was based mostly on the final images and had no real reference to the actual subject matter. This has always bothered me a little bit.


Dewscapes and Mizzlescapes
Recently, I have been searching for a name for these classes of images that is a hybrid that crosses between the actual tangible subject matter and the abstract photographic images that can result. My current feelings are to call these dewscapes or mizzlescapes because that marries the visual aspect of many of the final images (however abstract, often I can still imagine to myself some '-scape' aspect if you will), with the physicality of the subject matter (the collection of water from dew, winter mizzle of Northern California redwood forests and the like). I like the fact that these two terms combine the physical and the virtual and that they are ambiguous enough to encompass more of the images as a general classification than names previously which I had imagined. I may try to in the future use these terms, but still find myself in 'orbscape' frame of mind and will likely try to merge the concepts over time.

© C Ribet 2013