Jen’s garden philosophy is “sparse” but “showy.” Her specimens cry out of a garden catalog unlike the chaos that reigned in my garden. Each flower occupies a center of attention while it blooms akin to Japanese zen. Same picture, four times, different flower, one handed – I had the beer in the other hand.
And once more (twice now), seven cats, three sets of twins and Elle. I made up for it with two shots of Elle. I like even numbers. It wasn’t roll call. Can you even tell them (twins) apart? Same photographed cat twice? I have seven dishes to feed them wet food. And there is a cat for each bowl. The twins eat isolated in the bedroom to prevent them cruising the other bowls. The vet observed Nutley was a little too plush/f’ass (fat ass). F’ass? Balme Covid, everybody – you know who (shhhh) – gained weight? (I’ll pay for that last statement.) No names, please!! I’ve been done in by most excellent cheesecake. And yes, it was contagious – the darn cheesecake, no matter how small the slice.
We’re beyond just another pretty flower. I have been striving to get detail – close-up of the inner anatomy of flowers. For some flowers it’s not an easy task. The angle and the light conspire to obscure the target. Bees have it easy. But it’s not so for me and my camera. And then, you get it! Serendipitous? No, skill. Ha ha! It’s more like 50% close your eyes and shoot, and, 50% skill. Eh? Let me tell you that it took all summer to get to the point where I got these shots.
I am a firm proponent for cameras. After all, right tool, right situation. Soup should not be eaten with an iPhone for a spoon. Alas, I am shoveling shit against the tide. Digital camera sales are 10% what they were in 2010. Aha! Everyone has one. The system is full! Nope! Not hardly, it’s more like everyone uses an iPhone as their prime camera. Can you really squeeze all that power down from my trusty digital camera into the little itty bitty iPhone? Uhhhh… no! But that doesn’t stop most of the world from using iPhone. My lament, a lone voice among so many iPhones. I suppose you can drive either a Hyundai or a Porsche. You choose. The camera fallout: fewer cameras to choose from. It’s not so bad. Hardline phones have evolved into mobile communicators. We see the world through two eyes. There’s no telephoto zoom on my eyeballs. Check the fine detail in the flowers. iPhone would have a hard time matching my camera. Easy or hard, it’s a choice. I shall not let a podiatrist do my brain surgery.
Astrophotography. It requires a whole new skill set. It’s another language to locate stars in the sky. I was never particularly good at locating the North Star. It’s about as easy for me as to see duckies among the clouds above. I’m hopeless. I could never follow trail signs to get that Boy Scout merit badge. If you take me somewhere, I will always get home again. But, certain things are complete confusion for me. I sought that elusive Neowise comet streaking through our skies. It won’t be back for 69 hundred years. How about that? I won’t be here when it returns. Darn! I got a bunch of white dots on a black field. You may laugh. Please! There was a single streak. Aha! The comet?! Nope, probably camera movement. It’s not the tail. Settle instead for another flower picture. It looks like it’s in the daisy family. Alas, I don’t know its name either. But, it’s a better pic than my astro shot.
…right time. Margie came over for a visit. Her pedigree was uncertain so we ‘masked.’ It was blazing hot and 100% humidity. We sat on the deck and sweltered in place. It was horrible. Colleen hates being hot and sweaty. Funny! She didn’t crack a bead of sweat. So, there we were. I was hot melting in place and the ruby throated hummingbird made an appearance. A few shots, wrong camera, no time, I got what I could. Not bad, eh? Eh?!!!
It rained. The light is muted. And the raindrops, oh the raindrops! Spectacular! Nature is kind to me. The flowers are great in their own right. But, add the rain – sublime.
I have a good example of the zoom capability of the Sony RX100 VI. Three successive photos show the telephoto detail of the hydrangea in the distance. How far? … near ½ mile. You can’t see the petals. But, that dot of color indeed is a large hydrangea bush.
Of, course, if you saunter over, you just might get some nice blossoms.
Subtle details are often revealed when I take the time to look closely. That’s when you need that “critical focus.” It also helps to have multiple shots. There’s always a blurred image – (as with any group picture, there’s always someone with their eyes closed). Fine hairs? See the hibiscus. I credit a darn good lens. And water is always tricky. Close-ups don’t give you a lot of depth of field. Sometimes nature conspires. The steady rain wilted my newly bloomed lily. I got some nice water. Colleen says my eye sight is failing. At least the camera lens compensates for other shortcomings.
Every day you take the same photos. Once in a while you take something different. It might be a long time between. It’s worth it. Patience! It’s something I lack. Don’t laugh. If you don’t wander the garden because the same flowers are there same as yesterday…
No, not the genetic debate. (Shhh… there really isn’t any debate.) …It’s the change occurring in my photography as a result of change in my cameras. It has caused my technique to evolve. Evolution is slow and the change that results is subtle until it isn’t. I found the DSLR viewfinder of my Nikon D610 to be restricting. I got (am now) used to a movable LCD screen that allowed me to get down to eye level with my cats. This translated to: getting down to eye level with the flowers in my garden. There are a lot of moving variables to consider: shutter, composition, focus…. I get it that iPhone users just want to click and forget. All around me, family has little or no interest and they are quite content to have iPhone as their primary camera. That little tiny lens… Yes, a screw driver is a hammer in a pinch. But, the converse is untrue.
I liken my flower photo expeditions to the dives I did in the Red Sea. Walk around the garden and shoot the flowers. Not fish, flowers. And then pick out the best. And sometimes I get fauna – bugs. Lady bug, bee with pollen. Neat! It’s a plus!
I don’t Photoshop. I can. I would. I don’t much. Can you get it? But, there are exceptions as on this occasion where my vision and the photo needed tweaking to match my imagination.
Once a year for about two weeks… just for the briefest period, I am treated to the most spectacular show. It’s private, me and Colleen. There are no other relatives available to appreciate them. They have/had not arrived for summer in time. So this show is purely ours alone. Timing, it’s all about the timing. That’s it, just a couple weeks. Nothing, the rest of the year. Worth it? Ummm, you bet!
Spectacular! Gone too soon. What a show! It was!
I’ve been taking flower photos all season. It’s like fish in the Red Sea. When I dove I would scour the reef for fish pictures. (What else!!) Every dive it was the same routine. See fish, take pictures, sort, and select the best shots. I have way too many good flower shots. Standout?! That’s a matter of taste and choice. They are simply too numerous to count. I get plenty of technically sound shots. Standouts? A few. Sometimes I feel like that blind squirrel that found a nut…
My gardening goes back through my mother who used to plant salvia and allysum to make a stunning bed in West Virginia. She would laugh because her flower bed was always more attractive than our neighbor’s, who was a florist. In my decades of gardening I have had luck with allysum. Salvia were temperamental. Lately allysum have been finicky. So I have largely abandoned them. They fade in hot weather. No luck for me. This year’s container garden had both salvia and allysum again. They were not the stars but for a brief time they provided pleasing color. My mother called them scarlet sash. It’s an incorrect naming. That’s what makes this a special memory for me.
I took these pictures. I know it because they are in my files. And it was from my deck container garden. Do I remember? No. I’m old and headed on to demented. Oh well, we knew this would happen. I hope not. Memory is a funny thing. I have forgotten more than I remember. I remember more than you know. I constantly amaze myself with obscure trivia that just pops up on demand. My images are my brain’s external storage. My photos have always served as an anchor. I can often see a random pic and recall the circumstance and place where it was taken. This flower and moth in my container garden? … not a clue. Demented? …every day you meet new people.
The saying goes, “The shoemaker’s son has no shoes.” We cleaned up the back of beyond. All the dead brush and the phragmites are reduced to near nothing. Phragmites are locally invasive (very tall) grass that obscure my pond view. Efforts to remove it did not get beyond talking. So, one January day when the temp hit 63 degrees, I cut them down with a manual hedge trimmer. It was tedious! To my surprise it worked and the grass never returned in any significant quantity. Who would’ve guessed? This year we put the final touches to the cleanup. I sought before and after pictures. Easy!? Nope. It was hours before some pics were found. And it seems I don’t have a good shot of when the phragmites obscured the view. Imagine that? I was at a loss for a picture!
The front of the house was unique, which was a nice way to say – “odd looking.” The appearance is indeed unique, as one would love a special child. It’s a work in progress. Before, there was no hint of interest. Now, I have been on a multi-year plan to obscure the balcony with green. Wisteria and ivy are growing in. There is a climbing honeysuckle. Yes, I know wisteria take over and the climbing honeysuckle may be more nuisance at a later time.
For better or worse, this remains a work in progress. There is a very fine line before I cross over into messy. For all the pictures that I take of every single thing and event, you would think that I would have extensive image documentation of this change. Surprise! There’s not much to show. Ha! I culled more than a few but it was harder than I expected.
We are in a border dispute. When I cleared the phragmites I found a park bench on the edge of the pond between the pines. Ours? We had a bench and I didn’t know it? Or, the neighbor? It seems that the neighbor has claimed the bench. He can have it. There are too many mosquitoes.
I have nice flower photos too numerous to count. We could go into a long discussion on technical tips. I aim and shoot. I shoot multiples. I get about what I expect when I edit. There are a lot of duds. And there are some keepers. Wasteful? If I set up would I do better? Inasmuch as I don’t know in advance, whatever comes out works for me. It’s rather unplanned and not knowing if you got what you want is maddening. But, it’s not to me. What makes the cut? Focus, first and foremost. Then composition, background, color, and detail. There, and, I still get too many good shots to ever bring to post or to show off. When I look at the efforts of casual iPhone users, I sigh. One good shot, done. One sitting, I have too many good shots; it’s a matter of perspective.
I got these shots on the way back. From where? It doesn’t matter, except, I made you wonder. Ha! A field of yellow flowers, a pair of horses feeding, and it’s nearly an automatic photo op. So? How come we didn’t stop on the way to rather than the way back?
Emma has a program app on her phone that she pays for. (Don’t you just love that I throw in names without context?) Since I’m a cheap bastard I simply messaged her a pic and asked her to use her app to identify my/our tree. Three guesses later…. she got bad info and thereby gave me bad guesses… it turns out to be a Japanese snowbell. Drat! We saw this tree at the Washington Cathedral garden. We got one. But, we remember it as a styrax. Oh! The “science” name, how dumb of me. Let’s go with the popular name. It blooms for a short while in the spring. I realize I am a season or two removed. It’s how bored/far I am posting ahead. The non sequitur? Our trip to the nursery at the same moment. I could’ve asked there.
I knew this pic was special. The drops of water were perfect and ethereal. I had just watered the plants. I did not place the individual drops to enhance the image. OCD, I’m not. But I did return and take this flower four more times. I wanted a keeper. And it took four tries. There were a lot of duds. Persistence! I’m generally lazy. If it’s good, great. If not, oh well, tomorrow’s another day. I realize that I could be so much better. But, I will be back tomorrow. I work on the theory that even a blind squirrel gets a nut sometimes. In brain surgery it was casual until you got down to the real deal. Then, you were serious! Up until that point we sang and told stories. I bet you didn’t want to know that. And then you’re gonna wanna know what kind of flower. … as I said, casual. Who knows?
Bored. Yes, dammit! Bored! Remember, this post was composed two – three – months ago. Arghhhh! Yes, pirates say argh. I’m confined. I take pictures of baskets – that I made (Nantucket). I arrange artificial flowers. I take picture of flowers I planted. I cook. I take pictures of my cats. There! Colleen actually reads my blog faithfully. She’s not listed as a follower. Ha! She’s laughing out loud right about now. Call it support from home. If she doesn’t then who will? Arghhh!!!
There is a fine line between taste and tasteless. Good and better are subtle. It helps to have something to compare otherwise you are out of luck. I have my favorite. And then there is persistence. I shot three times – three sittings – and finally got something I was satisfied with. It’s like ending a sentence with a preposition. You can but it’s tasteless, mostly. Ha! … ended in an adverb.
My kids make fun. They tell me I’m blind. Or, at the very least I don’t pay attention. Colleen says the same. I concentrate and am oblivious to an earthquake. It served me well when I was in a noisy operating room. I was testing and comparing three cameras and their ability to photograph flowers. I zoomed the lens and let fly. It’s amazing what the camera saw that I did not. It’s equally amazing to get good shots. What I learned is that a blind squirrel does get a nut, sometimes. As for seeing detail, I’m lazy. The camera does the work. Press (the shutter button) early and often. Then again, what they didn’t tell you is when to do it. That’s judgment and it’s something you have or not. But… I did not see the pistil nor the water droplets.