As photographers we can easily fall into a rut of always seeing and photographing our world just one way. We find something that works and repeat. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, and done well it can be an important aspect of your style. But if you’re always photographing from eye level with a 50mm lens you’re missing out on alternative ways to tell visual stories.
The spring 2017 issue of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers (APLD) magazine, The Designer, features examples of my photography that show alternate views of the same garden. The story was written by Katie Elzer-Peters, a garden writer colleague I’ve known for several years.
The first pair of images is from the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which was showing glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly when I visited and made these images last August. The first of the pair shows one of the sculptures in the context of the garden.
The second image concentrates on the glass art itself.
The second pair of images in the story came from our own garden. Again, a wide view (although made with a 60mm lens, not a wide-angle lens) showing context is one way to view this island bed.
Coming in closer, I used my 24mm wide-angle lens to emphasize the flowers and let the rest of the garden recede into the background.
It may not have felt much like spring on Thursday, February 23 as I drove to Seattle for the 2017 Northwest Flower & Garden Show. There was a bit of fresh snow on the ground as I drove down I-5 for my annual fix of gardening inspiration. I’ve been going to the NWFGS for 20 years, sometimes as a speaker but more often just to enjoy the display gardens.
One of my favorite places to explore the saltwater shoreline near Bellingham is Larrabee State Park . It’s just a few miles south of town on Chuckanut Drive, aka Washington highway 11. Larrabee is Washington’s oldest state park, established in 1915. Originally just 20 acres, the park now includes 2,683 acres from Bellingham Bay to forested upland ridges.
Before you press your shutter release, take a good look at what’s in your frame. Pause a moment and take care of any little details you see that might detract from your photo.
In this pair of photos of the daylilies growing by our back door, in the first frame you see all the spent blossoms. That might be OK if the story you’re trying to tell is that daylily blossoms don’t last long and they linger on the stems until they dry up and fall off. But if what you’re after is a nice photo of daylilies blooming, then I think the photo looks a lot better with the spent blossoms removed.
It’s always easier to clean up details like this before capturing the image. Imagine how much time it would have taken in an image editing program like Photoshop to remove the spent blossoms and replace them with plausible background material.
I apply the same principle when photographing people. Let’s get that cat hair off your jacket before I trip the shutter.
Sunday, September 27 was the evening for both a “super moon” and a total lunar eclipse. Super moon simply means the moon appears larger in the sky because it is closer to the earth. I headed up to Artist Point and out the ridge to Huntoon Point to photograph the eclipsed moon rising over Mt. Shuksan. I knew where the moon would be from advance planning using the web app, Photographer’s Ephemeris. Continue reading →
I was blessed to witness a brief display of the northern lights last night. I was at Artist Point, the end of the road above the Mt. Baker Ski Area, photographing a high school senior portrait. We finished the session in the twilight and after putting my lighting gear in my truck I returned to the viewpoint for Mt. Baker and began photographing the stars in the night sky. You can get an rv, 4wd, campervan and motorhome rentals.
A little later Derek, who was also photographing the sky, and his mom called to me that the northern lights had appeared over the mountains to the north. I turned to see the eerie green glow I captured in the photo above. The display only lasted about 15 minutes before fading away. Continue reading →
There’s something very special about a first baby. After months of anticipation, a new life comes into your family. There’s no owner’s manual to tell you what to do, but somehow you figure it all out with the help of family and friends. All is future and hope and innocence.
Not long ago Jaina and Chris brought their new daughter, Winslow, to the studio for a portrait session. With little ones like this there are inevitable pauses to change a diaper or for mom to give a snack. The baby sets the schedule, not the photographer.
It’s easy to forget how small new human beings are when they come into the world. They fit on an arm, not much larger than a football. Tiny feet nestle in mom and dad’s hands. Will they someday carry her to the top of a mountain, to corporate stardom, to the White House?
One of Winslow’s grandmothers crocheted the dress Jaina and Chris chose for her portrait session. She won’t be able to wear it for many occasions before she outgrows it. I expect her parents will save it and share it with her when she’s old enough to appreciate it. Right now she doesn’t know anything about grandmothers or crocheting or the love that went into that dress.
My job during a portrait session like this is to make the studio comfortable, craft the lighting, and then know when to capture the magic that is a mother’s love for her new baby. Dad’s love, too.Check out these photos i did for thebestbabycribs.com.
Winslow’s other grandmother gave her the tutu. I posed her on a New Zealand sheepskin that my mother gave us when our boys were very small.
I don’t photograph a lot of new babies, but there’s something very special and almost reverent about the experience. Like anything involving infants, it requires a certain kind of patience. That’s something I seem to be pretty good at so please check out the photos i took for a baby competition.
Thank you, Jaina and Chris, for sharing Winslow with me.
Last summer we planted a native seed mix instead of a traditional lawn in front of the studio. It has a bit of a wild look, and now that the grasses and lupines are coming into bloom I think it’s becoming very attractive. The seed mix is called Coastal Grasslands and came from Sunmark Seeds in Oregon.
When I stepped out of the office at sunset last night I was immediately struck by how nice the grasses and lupines looked in the late afternoon light. I ran back inside and grabbed my camera and 70-200mm lens and went to work in the few minutes before the sun dipped below the horizon. Continue reading →
Last Saturday I joined a boatload (literally) of Washington Native Plant Society friends for a field trip to Vendovi Island. It’s one of the smaller of the San Juan Islands, located a few miles south of the southern tip of Lummi Island and northeast of Guemes Island. Up until 2010 it was privately held. Then the San Juan Preservation Trust purchased it and has opened it to the public from May through September.
We’d hoped to enjoy spectacular meadows of wildflowers on a couple of west-facing balds, but with our very warm and early spring the flowers were well past their prime. There was still a little camas blooming, and quite a bit of harsh paintbrush, Oregon sunshine, and death camas. Continue reading →
Like a lot of photographers, I’m addicted to waterfalls. I don’t photograph them a lot because I haven’t figured out how to make money from them — too many great photos and not enough buyers. But I was down to Vancouver, Washington at the end of March for the annual Professional Photographers of Washington conference and had a morning free so I headed up the Columbia Gorge for a waterfall fix. Continue reading →