In Focus — a bimonthly newsletter

Studio Open House September 12

Turner Photographics studio exterior

Turner Photographics studio exterior

We’re finished with construction (except for painting some of the trim and doing the landscaping) and our beautiful new studio at 4682 Wynn Road is open for business. We’re throwing a party on Friday afternoon, September 12 from 4-7 pm to show it off and welcome you to our new space. Continue reading

Plant of the Month: Spiny Wood Fern

Wood Fern w/ Vinca minor

Wood Fern with Vinca minor in a garden near Bellingham

Spiny wood fern (Dryopteris expansa), is one of our woodland plants that has continued to look good through the dry days of August while some of the other perennials have gone into summer dormancy or looked tired and droopy. We have quite a lot of wood fern growing in our woods, almost always on decaying conifer logs or stumps.

This deciduous fern is easy to recognize, although with just a quick glance you could confuse it with lady fern or male fern. Spiny wood fern has fronds that are broader at the base than at the tip, with a triangular shape that tapers to a point. It gets the spiny part of its name from the chaffy brown scales along the lower part of the leaf stems. Continue reading

Digital Photo Tip: Improvised Rain Cover

Garden chairs on awet flagstone patio

Garden chairs on a wet flagstone patio, Pittsburgh, PA.

Last month when I was on a bus tour of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania gardens with the Garden Writers Association I got caught out without my usual rain cover for my camera. We only had 20-30 minutes in each tour garden and I certainly wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to photograph lush and beautiful gardens just because it was raining and I didn’t have proper protection for my camera. I really like the look of a garden in the rain. Continue reading

Loads of Lectures

Vine Maples above Willows, autumn

Vine Maples above Willows, autumn

You’ll have many opportunities to hear me talk and see great images of trees and shrubs this fall. I’ll be presenting two different programs for native plant groups: 50 Trees and Shrubs for Northwest Gardens and In Praise of Woody Diversity. Both are drawn from the new Trees and Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest. I’m also presenting a new garden photography program, Photography in the Garden Through the Seasons. Continue reading

Plant of the Month: Red Elderberry

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Red Elderberry fruit

Red Elderberry fruit

I watched our native red elderberries go through their spring progression back in March and April. They’re one of the first shrubs to start unfurling their leaves, beginning in mid-March. Now that summer is here, they’re covered in bright red fruit. There are some big patches of elderberries beside I-5 where they’re easy to spot (and identify) even at 70 mph. Of course, they’re easier to learn at a more leisurely pace in your backyard or along a quiet trail.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we have two species of elderberry. More common on the west side of the Cascades is the red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa). It is native to much of North America, according to USDA Plants Database. The other is blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea), which grows throughout western North America. Both species of elderberry have similar cultivation requirements, as does another species found in eastern North America. Continue reading

Digital Photo Tip: Think Triangles

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Triangular composition in group of Lombardy Poplars
Strong triangular composition in group of Lombardy Poplars.

There’s a lot of power in the humble triangle. Just as it brings strength to all kinds of mechanical structures, the triangle makes your photographs stronger, too.


Triangular composition in group of Lombardy Poplars

It doesn’t matter whether you’re photographing your family, a sweeping landscape, something abstract, flowers, or anything else. Look for ways to incorporate one or more triangles into your composition. Continue reading

Trees & Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest Released

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Trees & Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest

Trees & Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest

It’s been a long journey but my latest book, Trees & Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest, should be in your favorite bookstore this week. You can also order autographed copies directly from me. Ellen Kuhlmann wrote the text and I photographed all but a few of the 568 species of mostly native trees and shrubs in the book.

I began thinking about the tree book back in 2009 and began photographing a few species that year and in 2010. Ellen and I signed a contract with the publisher, Timber Press, in 2010 and then we began working on it in earnest. I spent all of the 2011 and 2012 growing seasons traveling throughout the northwest to find and photograph the plants. We delivered the manuscript and photos to Timber in 2013. It always amazes me how much time is required to edit, design, and print a book like this. Ellen and I received our first author’s sample copies about a month ago and we’re pleased with the final result. Continue reading

Plant of the Month: Pacific Ninebark

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Pacific Ninebark blossoms & foliage

Pacific Ninebark blossoms & foliage

I’ve become a fan of our native ninebark, Physocarpus capitatus. It’s a big, glorious shrub. As the common name implies, the shredding bark provides year-around interest whether it really has nine layers or not. In June it is covered with ball-like clusters of small white flowers, held just above the dark green foliage. Birds eat the mature seeds in late summer and in autumn the leaves turn golden. Continue reading

Digital Photo Tip: Choose an Exposure Mode

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Canon G12 exposure mode and ISO dials

Exposure mode and ISO dials on the Canon G12 compact camera

Most digital cameras, except for the very simplest, offer several exposure modes. How do you choose which one to use? It depends on what’s most important in the photo you’re making. This month I’ll explain the difference between the primary modes: Program Automatic, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, and Manual. Your camera may also have a variety of Scene modes. Continue reading