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One For Sorrow

By MichaelBilottaPhotography    
Ah the crow, so linked with superstition and mythology, and in most cultures, a symbol of death. The Carrion Crow, the eating of dead bodies, be they human or animal, is certainly perceived as ominous to us even today. They are one of the most intelligent creatures on earth, and can even be trained to speak. They have been known to perform funeral rituals for deceased members of their family units, flying in circles around the fallen or even standing in a circle around it observing silence for up to thirty minutes. In war, they are seen in the battlefields observing, waiting or the battle to conclude so they can feast on the dead. They have even learned to open hard nuts by dropping them from on high onto a rocky surface, and if that doesn't work, take the nut and drop it in traffic to let the cars drive over it to open. They wait for the crossing signal to avoid being run over while retrieving it.

My image here is based on the crows awaiting the imminent death of the man in the image, waiting for that little light, the failing "soul fire" to go out before they descend. One could say this man is waiting for death, or fearing its arrival, or even accepting the inevitable and preparing himself for his passing, the black veil of a funeral over him already.

My fascination with crows has become a bit of an obsession as a photographer. I am not a nature photographer, I don't have the patience for it, and crows are elusive subjects to capture. Also, the conditions to shoot them for my process need to be there and that's makes obtaining them even less likely. I have begun to gather information on where they roost, and what times are best to find them. Ideally, I would love closeups and shoot them in my studio setting, to light them well, and be able to use them more often in my symbolism, since they are so rich in our traditions of folklore in the first place. This might be an unlikely goal, but I am determined to achieve it. They are beautiful, fascinating creatures, and yes, ominous too.

These crows seen here are the only ones I have been able to capture at all. There are two massive ones in the woods around the parking lot of my job, and last Friday morning, they were out in the open. I tried to get as close as I could, and manage to capture one in flight at a great distance, unfortunately. Any time I have used them in the past, I was forced to use stock imagery, which never felt good, and I told myself I would not allow something integral to the image to be anything but my own. In other words, I would only use them as background, or filler, unless I was able to call them my own. Even though I only have two of my own, I am glad to finally have them here, in an image I created, and focus on them specifically.

The title comes from the Nursery Rhyme "One For Sorrow" otherwise known as "counting crows."

The version I was using was:

One for sorrow
Two for mirth
Three for a funeral
Four for a birth
Five for heaven
Six for hell
Seven's the Devil his own self

I felt that the title "One For Sorrow" was a better fit than "Three for a Funeral" because it could apply to the man in the image as well, as in "he is one for sorrow."

Tags: Specialist and abstract Digitally manipulated Digital art Portraits and people Flash and lighting

Voters: christinecilia, Ade_Osman, NDODS and 5 more


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Comments


lovely capture like it. christineGrinGrinGrinGrinGrin
NDODS 10 5.2k 127 United Kingdom
21 Jul 2013 5:10PM
High impact narration, incredibly thought evoking imagery.

Nathan Grin
Thank you Nathan and Christine! Regards, Michael
Nike55 15 966 United Kingdom
22 Jul 2013 4:46PM
I love surrealism in all its many forms and note your portfolio also carries other equally evocative images - I'm hoping to do something similar based on 'Jethro Tull' songs once I have mastered my camera kit (which currently masters me) and the appropriate software.

Interestingly there are several versions of Counting Crows but one was put to music as a theme tune to a popular '70's UK children's programme, 'Magpie', a bird I have tried to capture at its best and have so far failed (*). There are any number of regional or even international variations with different words, meanings and additional lines.

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret never to be told
Eight for a wish
Nine for a kiss
Ten for a bird that you won't want to miss.

The thought provoking reality of the image of a half-dead wretch hanged from a tree in medieval times (with Corvids in attendance) unsettles me the most.

(*) underside plan view against a blue sky with the sun shinning through the feathers, with wings outstretched (I might need to speak to a taxidermist!).
bluesandtwos 11 521 1 England
28 Jul 2013 8:35PM
Another excellent picture, I always enjoy reading the thought process behind your images, they would always stand well alone, but gain so much more with the text.

Dave

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