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Maple Leaf Flag Frozen | by Don Komarechka
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Maple Leaf Flag Frozen

Some might recognize this concept. I decided to take a different take on a “classic” image of mine. We call today Remembrance Day in Canada, Veteran’s Day in the US, and nations all around the world have similar names for these days, which I do not wish to call a “celebration”.


Imagine a February in Western Europe, 1916. Day and night in an uncomfortable frozen trench. Filled with unending emotions: fear, sorrow, courage. Long past are the moments of peace like the Christmas truce of 1914 – on your mind now are your dead comrades, your family hoping you will one day return, and the “trench foot” making it impossible to find a moment of respite. The Battle of Verdun is about to begin, a battle that you have no idea will last the majority of the year, into December.


Imagine flying across the English Channel on a hastily manufactured Avro Lancaster bomber in 1942. An easy target for any enemy, and a payload of destruction that will likely cause an unthinkable loss of human lives. That is, of course, if you are not shot out of the sky. On returning home, you might be met with the ire of your countrymen for being in control of such a blunt instrument of devastation.


War isn’t easy. Many good men and women have lost their lives so that I can be free; free to create art, free to think creatively, free to raise a daughter who can follow her dreams. I have the utmost respect and admiration for those who have served their country, and currently serve to uphold the freedoms that I sometimes take for granted. “Respect” isn’t a strong enough word, and “admiration” isn’t accurate enough either. I do not wish for anyone to be in a position to risk their life so that I may live comfortably. And yet, this happens. Conflict has existed since the beginning of human history, and it will continue.


This Remembrance Day, I reflect back on every person that ever needed to raise a weapon to defend their country. Many times, they didn’t even have a choice. Many of them never return home. I silently and humbly think “thank you” to my own compatriots who have been placed in unimaginable circumstances.


This image was created by freezing red maple leaves in a casserole dish filled with distilled water. An acrylic sheet was placed on top of them to weigh them down into the water, keeping them flat. This didn’t work perfectly, so on emerging from the dish, a heat gun was used to selectively melt the ice where it was too thick and obscuring the leaves. These leaves, by the way, were taken from my old neighbourhood where I found the leaves for my original Maple Leaf Flag image ( ).


Shot on my much-loved Lumix S1R using the high resolution mode to generate a 187MP image which was then cropped down to the 2:1 aspect ratio of the national flag of Canada. Interesting fact: Canada is one of only a few nations that do not have a 3:2 aspect ratio flag. The image is backlit with a number of carefully positioned flashlights to evenly light the ice structures as the leaves.

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Taken on December 21, 2019