Friday, January 7, 2011

A Year in Photos

It's been a troublesome week.  I sat down to do a little work on Monday.  Typing away, somewhat unaware, I reached for my water glass.  I know what you're imagining but I didn't spill it.  Instead I took a big swig, and found, to my horror, there was a lump in my water.  A lump now in my mouth.  A fly.  Water and fly came rushing out of my mouth, all over the keyboard.  I thought I cleaned it up but water tends to slip into small spaces.  Some of the keys refused to work.  At first it was just the E.  Then the A.  Followed by S, D, R.......  They tell us it would cost a lot to fix.  More than the computer is worth.  The moral of the story being don't spit water, or at least aim it away from the computer if you must.  The good news is that Blogger stores all my previously used photos online.  So today I'm perusing the old catalogue as it were.

I've never paid much attention to photography.  I've been a point and shoot kind of gal for many years. Hubby has a real interest in photography and when he starts talking about buttons and gadgets and widgets my brain takes a holiday.  All that came to an end this year when I ventured into blogging.  At first I just did my usual point and shoot and attached them to posts but quickly I became envious of all the other beautiful photos I saw on other blogs.  I wanted pretty pictures too!  So I've begun working on my photography skills.

In the spring I started snapping photos of emerging plants.  The photo below sort of 'does the job' but it's not exactly interesting or nice to look at.  Knowing a little more now than I did 8 months ago I'd say I need to be more careful about where I stand when taking pictures as my shadow wants to eclipse these emerging tulip bulbs.

Lighting is a major issue with photography I've learned.  Morning light seems to be the best for taking pictures of plants.  Too bad I'm not a morning person.  If I can help it I won't leave the house until at least 10am.  That means my garden photos have that tone of full sunshine.  Otherwise known as 'washed out'.  The flowers in the photo below look white but the reality is they are pink.  The strong afternoon sun bleached out all colour from the picture.

In order to avoid getting up early and still have decent photos I have learned to use shadows to my benefit.  Eventually I got a nice photo of these flowers.

See - Pink!
Another way to get nice photos and avoid getting out of bed too early is taking advantage of overcast or rainy days.

The drops of rain on this daylily just add to the charm of this picture.  It makes it look like I did this for effect instead of realizing the sheer laziness of me not wanting to rise at dawn for the perfect photo.

Another skill I'm getting better at it is getting up close and personal with the plants.  Many flowers look insignificant when seen from a distance but are wondrous to behold when seen with a macro lense.  The flower head of a verbena is made up of clusters of tiny flowers but in the photo below it's hard to tell their actual size.  Not great if you're trying to identify the flower but incredibly interesting to see all the detail in each tiny flower head.

Another technique I learned, via hubby, is that when you get up close to an image you can 'blow out' the background.   In the photo below the focus is on the thistle and the field behind it becomes unfocussed and blurry.  It creates a background that is soft and isn't distracting from the image of the flower.

Blowing out the background isn't as simple as I'd like though.  It's easier to do this with hubbies expensive camera than my cheap one.  Knowing the technical skills helps but sometimes a good camera is really what you need.  For instance, my camera hates shooting the colour red.  

This weigela should be a bold bright red and instead they look super shiny pink in my photos.  As many times as I tried to photograph them, no matter the light, they just wouldn't come out right. 

While I have figured out ways to shoot up close I still need work on photographing large landscape shots.  In the flower border above I couldn't seem to find a focus and this shot seems a bit odd to me.  Something to work on in the coming year.

Another trick I discovered that I like a lot is shooting up and using the sky as my background.

Blue seems to go with everything and you discover some interesting sides of a plant this way.

Every month I put together a bouquet for the Garden Bouquet meme at Ramblings from a Desert Garden.  I love trying to find flowers in my yard and put them together in a pretty way.  Along the way I've also had to figure out how to photograph these bouquets. 

I discovered the worn wood of the picnic table makes a nice backdrop to a freshly picked bouquet.

But I need to pay attention to what's lurking in the background!  Can you see our woodpile below?

I'm also learning to appreciate accidents.  I was trying hard to capture a photo of this ladybug in the dying light of an evening and my flash kept going off.  Frustrated I kept changing the angle and then manually turned off the flash.  I got a surprise though when I downloaded the photos.  The flash image was much more enticing than the ones without.

Fall brought with it many seedheads and spent flowers.  If you look close with your camera there's still plenty to see though.

And even though this is a garden blog, there doesn't always need to be a flower in the photo.  Sometimes I just need to have some fun.


  1. I think that the moral of your story should be 'Always check your beverages for winged insects before you take a big swig'.

    The problem you have with photographing your weigela is the same one I have with my irises. I have some beautiful dark purple bearded iris, and they always come out looking blue. No matter what light I photograph them in or what setting I put my camera on. Oh well.

  2. Ah, reminds of when my wee one was a babe and picked 13 keys off my laptop...grrr. I put saran wrap over the keyboard and tried to carry on as it was too expensive to get fixed. Yeah, had to get a new computer!

    Your photography is looking really good. I have the same problem trying to find the right angle so that the background isn't distracting. Love your blue sky photos! :)

  3. Nicley done Marguerite! Taking macro shots of plants and flowers is one of my favourite things to do too but I need to learn the names of them so I can "caption" them correctly.

  4. NOT a morning person, so it is either wait for good clouds (Thank You) or late afternoon/evening when the light is kind again. And trying to convince a camera that has run screaming into the night that, it is Just a RED Flower! Makes me think of old jokes, someone carries the computer to the printer, see, THIS Page!!!

  5. I so enjoyed looking at your photos, and also enjoyed the journey of discovery; I can really relate to it as well. When you have a surprise like your coneflower with's such a delight eh!

    One problem I have is, not always getting the blue sky as the camera shoots it white.

    Sorry about your computer...I live in fear of spilling something on mine. Anyway, great post!

  6. What wonderful photographic techniques and creativity you have discovered --- and all just to avoid getting up early.

    I can't get a deep purple butterfly bush to photograph anything other than magenta pink, no matter what time of day or what light, much like your morphing red won't shoot true. It's always some obstacle.

    I liked reading about your learning process with the camera!

  7. Wow! I have been through all of those photography woes over the years. You have summed it up in an amusing and entertaining way. I agree...the sun can be brutal, which is why I tend to take most of my photos in the shadier spots. And the sky does make a beautiful background...some days anyway. You have taken some gorgeous photos over the year. Love that ladybug shot!

    As for your keyboard, is this on a laptop? I connect a full-size keyboard to my laptop on occasion for ease of typing. Can you not just buy a new, separate keyboard? I also have connected a super-sized monitor and even used both monitors at once.

  8. Marguerite, I'm sorry to hear about your keyboard disaster. I once fried a keyboard on my computer at work by spilling a mug of tea on it; the guys from IT couldn't believe that it didn't occur to me to turn the keyboard over and shake it to get as much moisture as possible out of it. The lecture I got definitely made me feel like a 16-year-old who had just dented the fender on Daddy's car.

    Like you, I'm always vowing to improve my photography skills, and I have found the switch from film to digital challenging. You seem to be making great progress; I love the shot of the queen anne's lace. -Jean

  9. I've swallowed horrible things, too. And spewed them right back up, ha ha.

    Beautiful photos, keep them coming!

    Oh, for spring ...

  10. I still think the photo of the ladybird is stunning. As is your 10th photo of whatever it is against the blue, blue sky.

    An advantage to digital photography is that you can just keep taking pictures and they doesn't cost you anything to get developed, leaving you to learn and experiment at will.

    I can't say I've spat on my keyboard but I have spilt all sorts of things on it, and I've been lucky enough to get away with it. Until one morning I discovered one of my cats had thrown up over it during the night. Totally disgusting. I threw the keyboard away and bought a new one. But I'm guessing that perhaps you're referring to a laptop? In which case it's not so cheap to just go out and replace.

  11. "...they doesn't cost..." ?! Sheesh.

  12. I have to agree, the ladybug photo is stunning. It was fun seeing your skill improve over a year's time. I also really like the soft seed head picture.

    Sorry about your PC. I would go insane without mine.

  13. For someone that had barely any interest in it last year, you take some pretty good shots.

    Love the angles, and the perspectives you have come up with. Looking forward to seeing what you will surprise us with this year.

    As for the fly, oh you poor thing, that is just so....yuk. I totally understand, I think more then the keyboard would be wet.

    And the late afternoon/early evening light is spectacular, see there always is a time for each of us.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  14. I think the fly is responsible and needs to pay up!!! It owes you a new computer!! The pictures are beautiful. :o) I'm a "If I take 30 pictures maybe 10 will be decent" kinda photographer, so I'm very impressed with all of your photos!! :o)

  15. Oh my.The poor computer. And poor you. I am like you struggling a bit with the time of day issue, so I have been trying to get better photos in most lighting conditions, just forcing myself to try a little harder. I think your photos are really good, especially that lady bug. Great image. Oh, and the little purple mouse too.

  16. Oh, no. Computers seriously don't like liquids, and I had someone spill coffee on MY laptop just before a presentation back in the spring. Happily for me, my homeowner's insurance covered full replacement, as even my Apple Warranty would NOT have gone for a caffeinated meltdown. I hope things improve with the keyboard.

    Your photography is wonderful, your observations are excellent! That one of the ladybird on the coneflower is worthy of blowing up and framing.

  17. So fun! We start out as garden bloggers and the next thing you know, we're practicing photography! It's somewhat addicting isn't it? You have made some wonderful discoveries that I can relate to...I can't seem to photograph white flowers no matter the time of day or rain or shine...they always seem to be over exposed...I'll keep trying though ;) Have a great weekend!

  18. Hi Margeurite, your journey with photography spurred by blogging seems to mirror my own, including the not being a morning person bit! I look forward to seeing how your photography progresses this year. One of my resolutions is to us my tripod more often, but I think I also need to explore lighting more, particularly flash. How wonderful to have an in-house expert to call upon! I could do with one of those...

  19. I had to laugh when I read about the fly, although if it had been me swallowing the fly, I wouldn't have thought it was funny at all. I hope you will be able to sort out your computer issues. I enjoyed following your struggles with photography and can identify with your learning curve. I find that I have learned so much in just the months that I have been blogging. Light is everything and you are so right about the sun bleaching out pictures. The trick seems to be to catch the sun at just the right moment that it will highlight, but not obliterate what you are shooting. My favorite is your image of the Queens Anne Lace. Have a great weekend.

  20. Kyna - I should know better. I have a cat that likes to dip into my water glass when I'm not looking and I normally look. Of course the one time I don't...

    Ms.S - I'm giggling trying to picture typing on a saran wrapped keyboard.

    Jane - you should see how my photos are labelled in my directory. flower 01, flower 001, blue flower 005. Complete mess.

    Diana - yes evening sun has a lovely quality too and I'm much more alert at this time of day! Why is red such a terror to cameras I'll never know.

    Gardeningbren - the sky shoots white? Oddly I haven't had this issue. Beginner's luck!

  21. Laurrie - I wonder if it's all cameras or just digitals that have this colour issue?

    Floridagirl - it is a laptop unfortunately and we have purchased a new plug in keyboard this week. Works well at home but the point of the laptop was working on the go. Hubby goes out of town in 2 weeks time and this complicates things.

    oh Jean, thank you for sharing! I've had some major guilt this week. I wish I had thought to shake it! I just mopped it up and thought, well that'll just evaporate.

    Kim - I'm reminded of that nursery rhyme 'the little old lady she swallowed a fly. poor old lady I think she'll die..." I know now I have a pretty good gag relex. by the way, had to show hubby the fox photos, they are just fantastic.

    Bub - it's okay, I don't deduct points for bad grammar ;-) you're right though, I never could have taken these photos without digital. I take about 20 photos just to get one good one.

    Cheri - it was fun to look at the old photos, I don't even know what the seedhead was but it's awfully cool looking.

  22. Jen - yuck just doesn't even begin to cover it. Forget the computer, I was rushing to rinse out my mouth a gazillion times.

    TS - I'm absolutely the same. It's not unusual for me to come in with over 100 photos taken. Sometimes the same shot, repeatedly, over and over. Thank goodness for digital.

    Gardenwalk - sometimes it's finding the time when the light is right. or having the camera with me at the right time. I need to remember to carry it everywhere.

    jodi - I would never have thought to check insurance to cover something like that. Smart move. We've discovered Mac will accept somewhat broken laptops on trade in so that's a strong possibility.

    Whimsical Gardener - There's so many skills I've had to learn that I hadn't considered before blogging! writing, photography, web design, apps. Some days it seems never ending. I'm considering a re-design right now that will likely eat up many many hours.

    Plantaliscious - It's a huge help to have someone to throw questions at for sure. Although I often get my ear talked off and then I'm sorry I asked! Usually the answer I want is - push this button.

    Jennifer - thanks for the kind words! I'm glad to hear you've had a learning curve as well since I greatly admire the photos you take.