Looking at the Old Newly as Inspired by a Red Onion – Picture to Ponder- v5 -issue 23

by Sheila Finkelstein on July 2, 2009

In July I became enthralled with the beauty of a red onion and the process I went through in photographing and peeling away the layers over a period of approximately two weeks.

Last week I became attracted to another red onion that had been sitting in my refrigerator for so long it had started “growing”. I decided to take a few pictures of it while holding it in my hand, views both inside and outside of the house, and then put it aside on a counter. The green continued to grow and earlier this week I decided to photograph the onion again. Given it was night, I set up the black background board to block the scene behind it in my home and placed it on the under side of one of my Cafe Press pillows which I had placed on the table.

Yesterday I was moved to start cutting, then peel away a few of the layers. I got quite excited with what I was discovering and the result is well over 150 photos. I started including here one of the “peeled” ones from a few “shoots” and decided aesthetically it did not fit with the other two. Those who wish can see that one, and several others, on Red Onion 4 or wait until I decide into what direction I am going to take the next round.

If you have not seen “THE RED ONION STORY: Peeling the Layers of an Onion as Analogous to Peeling Away the Layers of Ourselves,” you can request the PDF  on ONION STORY 1.

As I indicated above, the top two are of a red onion on a pillow. They are lit by a chandelier above and taken without the flash.

I like stateliness and the mysterious shadows in the top photo. The middle has a rhythmic flow of colors and shapes. Given the greens were a large focus in the center photo, as well as the source of the shadows in the top one, I’m also showing the cut pieces that I spontaneously placed in glass candle holder that was closeby. I love the colors here on top, as well as those showing through the translucent glass.

When I first started what now has become an exciting project, I was not very inspired. I simply started taking a couple of photographs because the onion had been around for so long. I wanted to acknowledge it in some way and be complete with it.

Then when I got into action, my creative juices took hold. I got excited as the different components and patterns were revealed once I cut the onion in half. The skin had interesting shapes and the interior of the peeled layers had lines embedded, probably roots, in great patterns. You can see a few examples on RED ONION 4.

So, how does this all fit into queries? Following my description of where I was before my I started taking these photos, I invite you to look into your life. Are there one or more projects or activities on which you have been stalling? If so, I invite you to take one small action, perhaps even photograph something relevant to it. Then take one more action. Do not be attached to an outcome. Simply be open to noticing where a spark of enthusiasm emerges. Where will you allow that to now take you?

And, for a second set of different queries – Today’s onion was quite “old” – a few months, at least. In the process of spending time with it, dissecting, being willing to play, many things opened up. Again I invite you to look into your life.

Are there people, projects, object or relationships in your life that seem “old and tired?” If so, I invite you to spend time, look at them, see what you can open up, if anything. Do you have new choices now for being with it or them in new ways? Or is it time to release whatever you were looking at and move on? Either choice is perfect.

As always, have fun with these queries. Be sure to “play” with the first.

Another OPPORTUNITY for a creative and empowering activity
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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Maryanne July 2, 2009 at 11:46 am

Dear Sheila,
You are such a dear, dear woman and your “dearness” shows in all of your photos. And, what a sense of humour!!! My, my, woman, you are actually a “stand-up comic” in photography!
I somehow, quite by some happy accident, found your lovely site and have been blessed with all of your visionary-visions.
This is just a note to express my thankfulness for your keen eye and your willingness to share your vision with all of the rest of us.

In love and fun and thanks,


Sheila Finkelstein July 2, 2009 at 6:34 pm


Thank you so much for beautiful comments on the blog today and your acknowledgment of my work. How I laughed at the “stand-up comic in photography!”

Years back, when I was in sales, I was at a training and made the comment that I didn’t have a sense of humor, when the leaders were talking about the importance of
humor. They just looked at me as if I were crazy. It’s one of those things if only we saw ourselves as others see us.

Everything you wrote is so beautiful and inspiring to me to continue what I’m doing.

I think I’ll play with “Stand-Up Comic in Photography” 🙂 That should attract attention.

With Appreciation and Love,



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