Between 1783 and 1808 a very large expedition led by José Celestino Mutis was undertaken in what is now Colombia and other areas of adjacent countries. It was known as the Real Expedición Botánica del Nuevo Reino de Granada and other smaller expeditions were born.
Juan José Tafalla Navascués was a botanist and member of the Ruiz and Pavon, authors of the three volumes of Flora Peruviana et Chilensis, and remained in that area between 1799 and 1808 for his investigation. The work he produced is stored in the archives of the botanical garden of Madrid and is known as Flora Huayaquilensis.
Dr. Edgardo Estrella (born in 1944 in Ecuador), took a sabbatical year from the Universidad Central de Equador in 1985 and went to Madrid where he did a research at the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens. There he found documents regarding the expedition of Ruiz and Pavon and the work of Navascués.
Dr. Estrella spent three years studying and compiling the archive information from Navascués before publishing it in a book. During that period he, a committed amateur photographer, did several photo essays of the Botanical Garden and its plants like the one shown here, produced around 1986. His approach centers the attention mainly on the shape of the shadows instead of the plants itself, something he was very interested in exploring as it opened an aesthetical freedom opposed to the rigor of his practice.
I met Dr. Estrella’s middle son, Ricardo, in Madrid June of 2015. We had a common friend that introduced us for me to get to know and try to publish his father’s work. Among his essays this one is the most compelling and well developed, showing a more mature approach and vision in photography practice.