Plant Photography: Color

Helianthus annuus_Sunflower_DBG_LAH_6805

My final post on photographing plants, in all their forms, deals with one of my favorite aspects of photography—color. My dad was an avid photographer as well, but he preferred to shoot a medium format camera loaded with black and white film. Then he’d disappear into his darkroom and spend hours dodging and burning, doing his best to emulate Ansel Adams.

Me? I want color, and the more, the better. Happily, gardens are colorful places.


Bird Photography: A few more tips

Pete photo of YCNH @EvergladesNP 31dec07 LAH 751This is the last (at least for a while) post in my series on better bird photography. If you missed the earlier posts, just type “bird photography” into the search box at right. I guess you could call these the odds and ends I didn’t mention earlier!

I think of line as the path my focus takes as it moves through a photo. Where do I look first? Where do my eyes go from there? In these examples, my eyes follow an S-curve as I look at the Swan Goose, while they move diagonally through the photo of the Black-necked Stilt. There’s a reason that pictures of meandering rivers and paths are so popular. We visit all parts of the image as we wind our way through. (more…)

Bird Photography: Balance & Color

Eastern Rosella Parrot_CheyenneMtnZoo-CO_LAH_4110As I mentioned last month, if we want our photography to look like art, we need to study art. I find that the more I learn about composition and design, the better my pictures turn out. Here are a few more things to consider when looking through your viewfinder.

Objects in a photograph have visual weight to them. Imagine that your photo is a seesaw, supported by a point in the middle. For example, a large, black crow to the right of the picture will tend to pull that side downward unless balanced by something else on the left side. Just as with actual weights, two or three smaller objects can balance one big one. Most pleasing pictures are visually balanced. Remember that a large open space can also have weight, so you don’t need clutter your composition. (more…)

Winter Squash at High Altitude

Cranberry Squash diffuseAs I pulled up the driveway and into the garage, I noticed a large object in a plastic grocery bag, nestled against the front door. Upon inspection, I realized it was a Kabocha squash. What was it doing on my doorstep? My first guess proved correct—our elderly neighbor, a former master gardener, had grown it and was showing off his gardening prowess by sharing his harvest with us.

I was quite impressed. We live at an altitude of about 7,000 feet and long-season veggies don’t have time to mature during our short growing season. Still, the evidence was right in front of me. Somehow, Oscar had managed to grow a (very delicious) Kabocha squash. I was determined to do likewise.


Gardening Goes On… Indoors

Hoya @home 28mar2006 LAH 119rAs nighttime temperatures dip into the teens, I have to face the fact that I won’t be outside gardening any time soon. Happily, a good part of my garden lives in my house with me. After a busy summer (punctuated by fire, hail, and floods), I finally have time to give my houseplants the attention they deserve.

Unless the plants are in dire straits, I prefer to wait on repotting until spring. Then, the longer days, larger pot, and fresh potting mix combine to encourage new growth. Except for the plants that are winter bloomers (Christmas cactus, some orchids), at this time of year I give my plants a rest by cutting back on fertilizer and watering just enough to keep the soil moist.


Oh Hail!

hail_home_plh-1It was the house-shaking boom of thunder that first caught my attention. As my ears recovered, I heard a drumming on the roof, a steady beat that rapidly got louder and louder. More flashes of lightning. More thunder. I stopped chopping up celery for the stir-fry I was making, and looked outside. Sure enough, that wasn’t just rain I was hearing. It was hail.

Vicious icy balls almost an inch in diameter were pelting the house, bouncing on the driveway, burying the flower borders. I switched windows so I could see my veggie plot. That was a mistake. It’s such a helpless feeling to watch a lovingly tended garden, the beds I had so carefully weeded just hours ago, turn into lime sherbet.


Creative Containers

Containers @DBG 19sept05 LAH 236A tantalizing spell of sunny, warm weather had me out on my patio last week. It looks so bare. Most of my pots are still safely tucked into the garage for the winter. Repeated freezing and thawing can crack unglazed pottery. Since we were out of town a lot last year, I didn’t plant anything extra, not wanting to overburden our very gracious house-sitter. This year I’ll be home, and I’m already envisioning my containers.

A simple geranium in a flower pot is fine, but I have grandiose dreams. Paying particular attention to the containers at various botanic gardens has inspired me. Here are three tips on planting spectacular pots.