The Chambered Nautilus

The Chambered Nautilus


The Chambered NautulisThe chambered Nautilus’ home is one of the most beautiful shapes in all of nature. At least, in my opinion. Its perfect spiral has amazed mathematicians and scientists alike for centuries. The creature lives in the outermost chamber. As this mollusk outgrows its chamber it seals the old one off and creates a new, larger one. And so it goes until the critter dies.

In the mid 19th Century, Oliver Wendell Holmes penned his well-known poem about the chambered Nautilus’ life cycle metaphorically comparing it to our own. The spiral shape of the Nautilus shell suggests that it can keep growing forever. There is no design for a “final” chamber. The creature must keep building new chambers as long as it lives. It cannot go back to the previous ones; they no longer fit. It cannot stay in its present space or it will die. It has no choice but to move on. Similarly, our lives are in a constant state of change. As the Nautilus, we can not stay where we are and we can not go back. We must grow and move on to our next, larger chamber or chapter.

About this image. Lately, I have been experimenting with and enjoying making new work from existing photos. Using Photoshop, I am able to stack photos up in layers and essentially erase the unwanted portions of each. “The Chambered Nautilus” consists of three of my photos: the Nautilus shell I photographed in my studio, the beach scene was taken at Cat Island in the Bahamas, and the pelicans were shot on Upper Captiva Island in Southwest Florida. Additional textures and shapes were added to give an overall impressionistic feel. Would love to know what you think.




Ron Mayhew

Fine Art Photographer specializing in Still Life and Commercial Photography.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. One of my favorite poems to teach as an English teacher, and one of my favorite shells. Your post is absolutely lovely!

    1. Thanks so much. I’m married to a retired English teacher though she mostly taught world and British lit.

  2. yet, to be compelled to build new chambers and still gift us with a golden spiral…your layered image speaks of “aged” beach memories. Thank you for sharing.

    1. And thank you for commenting. I appreciate it.

    1. Thank you, Carolyn. I’m thinking of having a canvas print done.

  3. What a work of art – love the new twists you have added to your “old” work!

  4. Excellent conceptual composite composition! If you haven’t already done so, google the Fibonacci Sequence and its inherent spiral – amazing!

    1. Yes, I have read some about the Fibonacci Sequence – but don’t pretend to understand all the math but the end result is beautiful. Thanks, C.S., for your comment.

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