Folhas Secas, part four

And this I did for seven long nights — every night just at midnight — but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye.

Poe, the The Tell-Tale Heart

The leaves of the California Spicebush (above) have blemishes that look like an “evil eye”. And since it’s Halloween, I do recommend the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, The Tell Tale Heart, about a crime instigated by an “evil eye” (link above in the quote).

This is the fourth post about my project “Folhas Secas”, photographing  dry leaves in black and white. My previous posts, where I share my vision for this project, my process and my set up, are readily accessible if you click on the category above “Working in projects”. 

This project is far from over, but i want to have a representation of it in my portfolio. I now have about 20 photographs of leaves that I like, and I want to choose a subsample (maybe 10). All photos are high contrast black and white, on dark background, cropped 4X5 or 5X4. 

Trimming one’s own work is a painful process. Of course I wish I had access to the opinion of other people. I might be able to get some of my friends to chose between two or three frames, but picking ten out of 20 photos maybe too much to ask. A detached curator would be awesome, but I do not anticipate that I will be selling enough prints of dry leaves to pay for one.

Sometimes, and for some obscure reason, a photo that looks awesome on the computer disappoints in print. Remember that pictures on the screen are lit from behind, whereas on paper, they are lit from the front. This can make a huge difference on the impact of a picture. Also, certain artifacts introduced in post-processing, and which may be difficult to see on the screen, have a way to show in print. Occasionally, it’s the crop that looks weird on paper. 

I like to test print a subsample of my project photographs to help me with my choices. Usually, I send the files to a local printer, but this time I used for some test prints. I ordered a batch of cheap 8X10 Kodak prints that should be sufficient for a quick check. I then display it somewhere on a board I have to look at once in a great while. As a bonus, if you have a compulsive personality, you can spend a lot of time straightening all the photographs on a board like this.

On my next blog post, I will wrap it all up and talk a little more about selecting my flies.


  1. After I had a set of about 15 pictures, decided to trim my collection to ten files that I will put on my portfolio.
  2. To help me chose the files, I had some of them printed. 

This series of posts is concluded here.

14 thoughts on “Folhas Secas, part four

  1. howg2211 says:

    It’s really beautiful work. Are you sure you shouldn’t include more than ten? If there are more than ten that you feel are really excellent then why arbitrarily limit it? Also, why not submit it to LensWork’s recent Image Suites for consideration of publication. Ten to fifteen is the right number for that!


    1. Alessandra Chaves says:

      I agree that 10 is an arbitrary number but 10-15, as you pointed out, is a good range to pitch a project (to contests, galleries etc). Regardless, Learning to chose a sub sample and trying to become aware of why we chose one photo rather than another is a good exercise for the photographer, I think.


  2. Steve Schwartzman says:

    I feel spoiled by the large and good computer monitors I’ve had for years, which as you pointed out send light through an image from behind. Prints can’t match that translucent light, and I’m often disappointed when I view the print version of an image I’m used to seeing on a monitor. A few years ago I had some images printed on metal, which comes part-way toward conveying the vitality I enjoy on a monitor. My impression, though, is that the “art world” doesn’t look kindly on metallic photographic prints.

    Your (or anyone’s) difficulty in choosing 10 photographs from a group of 20 is understandable because 184,756 distinct groups of 10 are possible when choosing from 20 candidates.


    1. Alessandra Chaves says:

      “ Your (or anyone’s) difficulty in choosing 10 photographs from a group of 20 is understandable because 184,756 distinct groups of 10 are possible when choosing from 20 candidates.”

      That’s the math teacher speaking. 😎

      Metal is actually a very nice medium for certain photos. You get that spark without the glare that makes it hard to appreciate glossy photos hanging on the wall. If you like your prints who cares about what the art world thinks. It’s changing so fast anyway. The art world needs to revamp itself ASAP.


  3. Steve Gingold says:

    I am not surprised with your difficulty picking 10 or any other number of images where you have invested your passion for a subject. Each has meaning and it’s hard to deny its importance to your sense of beauty and accomplishment. I just had to do that, see my latest post, and cheated. My friend had invited me to share a gallery with him and to submit 10 shots. I submitted thirteen and said you pick the ten you like. 🙂 One cannot always get away with that.

    I think it would be easy for anyone walking through a gallery of your pictured 12 images to linger over each one.


  4. shoreacres says:

    I’ve only had to choose ten or twelve of my photos one time, for a presentation. By the time I was done, I was thinking, “This is like being asked to choose a favorite child.” It is difficult. I also smiled at this: “Trimming one’s own work is a painful process.” That’s true of writing, as well. Some call it editing; others have other, less acceptable names for it!


    1. Alessandra Chaves says:

      I find it hard when I have to write on a limited amount of words. For example, the abstract of the science papers I publish are limited to an “x” number of words. Sometimes it isn’t enough to summarize the research.


  5. justinsheely says:

    Alessandra, I love this project and the blog posts you create to document your creative process. It is refreshing to see another photographer create art rather than chasing sunsets and tourist destinations. If you do start minting NFTs (and you should), I’ll be happy to help promote your work 🙂


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