Something Old, Something New, & A Moment Found

5 min readJan 5


Another physical gift of art for designers.

I started thinking about a holiday art series very early in 2022. My initial ideas were much different than how the series Shape Leaves I–VI turned out and it is a testament to how the year reshaped my perspectives in ways I could not foresee.

This is how it came together…


I picked up a new-to-me old camera last year, just to experiment with. I was surprised to find it had native support for creating double exposures, a feature my primary digital camera does not have. Double (or multiple) exposure is a technique from analog photography that first was used well before 1900. It involves exposing a single film negative to light twice, which results in two blended images in one compositional frame. Sometimes the technique was used in a calculated way, but more often as an experimental expression, as results can be hard to control. Nonetheless it is a enjoyable way to introduce some chance in your photography practice. While easy to do today in Photoshop, the expression of blending two different images together remains a compelling way to visually construct a bespoke narrative.

Magnolia (Double Exposure) by Man Ray, ca. 1930–1939


Around the same time I was reading Snow Crash, Neil Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel. The story features the origins of the term “metaverse,” now a reality that has intrigued me and many others who have been pondering this new world throughout the past calendar year. Dimensional, or spatial, digital experiences are clearly becoming more tangible and something we all will have to learn to interact with and design for.

It’s funny to remember that years ago we were abandoning the faux dimension in skeuomorphic user interfaces in favor of a “modern” flat aesthetic and now, in a way, we’re…heading back? It feels like flat shapes will need to embrace dimension in some way, as if to live on in the metaverse.

Flat shapes to 3D models to 3D printed


I think photography can be defined largely in the bounds of variables and timing.

Variables being the functional things like the camera you use, exposure settings, focal length, ISO speed, etc.

Timing is as simple as a shutter speed but becomes much more nuanced and deep considering the exact moment you press that shutter button.
In October, I walked through the woods in my backyard. The day was overcast, wet, damp, and had a fog lurking throughout. A dreary day to disregard.

One foggy day

Many leaves had fallen on the ground and more were coming down by the second. These freshly fallen leaves were in the midst of transition between life and death. Their passage of decomposition from a healthy leaf to returning to the soil, was highlighted by jewel-like droplets of water which spotted their surface. There was something magical there in that moment and it captured my eye. I quickly ran inside to grab my camera and a macro lens.

I shot these photos during the work week, finding some pockets of time to walk around my property a few times. While I did capture over a hundred shots, I thought I’d have plenty of time to capture more over the weekend at a more leisurely pace.

Partial set of thumbnails

So Saturday morning, I went out again with my camera. However I quickly found it was all, subtly, different. The leaves were still there, but they no longer seemed to glow. The decaying bright fall colors had faded into a palette of boring browns. The leaves were further decomposed and the water that adorned them had dried. The day’s bright sun came down on them harshly, creating ghastly unattractive shadows.

The magic moment was gone, as was the photo opp.

Shape Leaves I–VI are born of my experiences and trains of thought coming together. Through the help of colleagues, I took 3D printed shapes and photographed them floating, suspended by a thread. I then used these photos to create (digital) double exposure compositions with photos of the leaves. I am inspired by the depth created by pairing simple geometric compositions with the detailed complex beauty of organic decaying nature.

Shape Leaves I & II
Shape Leaves III & IV
Shape Leaves V & VI

Thank you to Designers Charlie Bowles and Frank Pizzuta for help with the 3D models and 3D printing.




Discipline Lead, Design—EY Design Studio Philadelphia