A huge part of running a garden blog is the photography. Some of my favorite garden blogs that I frequent feature great photography, and it is a key reason why I visit them so often. Over the last few years of running Married to Plants, I have grown quite a bit as a writer. While my skills as a photographer have grown too, they just were not where I wanted them to be. Plus I was tired of going on these expensive habitat trips to places like Madagascar and Borneo and coming back with some photographs that were good but not up to the level of the location. It was time to change that.
It was after talking to a professional photographer while on the International Palm Society’s biennial in Sarawak, Borneo, that I realized the only way I was going to get better was to become more serious about the hobby. This meant I needed to educate myself from the ground up, as everything prior was self-taught. Basically I was shooting in auto-mode and had no clue what “composition” and “fstop” were, or even what the “rule of thirds” was. It was time to go back to school. Literally.
I had many options on how to proceed with my education. They ranged from online courses to college lectures with a lab. After doing some research I decided to take a digital photography class at my local junior college. Online courses seemed expensive to me and trying to learn from home with my ADHD and all the distractions that call me to the garden just wasn’t going to work. Learning hands-on away from distractions was the selling point in me deciding to take a college course. Palomar College is just a few miles from my house and I couldn’t believe how inexpensive their intro digital photography class was. The course was called “Photo 120: Digital Photography” and when you finished adding the fees for the student ID and parking, I would end up paying around $150 for a semester course. A course that went from 8-11 AM every Tuesday and Thursday. I simply couldn’t beat that.
Since my enrollment in the digital photography class at Palomar College, I have grown considerably as a photographer. I had a great professor and a good group of people to learn with. I believe I have moved past the level of amateur and into the realm of enthusiast. While I doubt I will ever advance to the level of professional photographer, I am certainly happy with the newfound knowledge I have acquired and I now have an even greater passion for photography.
For this week’s post I figured it would be fun to show you my final project, which I turned in last week for my digital photography class. The assignment was to use 10 photographs that I took during the time I was in the course and come up with a theme. That theme had to coincide with a song or poem that I included with the 10 mounted photographs in a portfolio. The goal was to show off as many of the new elements of photography that I learned over the semester.
The theme I chose was centered around my garden. (Go figure, right?) All the photographs you see below were taken from my garden and the poem I used was titled “The Garden” from 1681 by Andrew Marvell. I have included the poem at the end of the post. I hope you enjoy the photos. Keep in mind: I am not a professional photographer and realize I still have a lot to learn. So without further ado, here is my final project:
Late afternoon shot of my favorite view in the garden.
Half moon with out-of-focus palm frond.
Flame Thrower Palm (Chambeyronia macrocarpa) emerging new frond against blue sky.
Mediopicta variegation Agave ‘Blue Glow’ at sunset.
A Brown Anole (Anolis sagrei) thinking that I don’t see him. I wrote a blog post about these non-native lizards in my garden a while back.
Neon Skimmer (Libellula croceipennis) on Pritchardia arecina palm spear.
Flowering Aloe calcairophila in a Julien Hanazono pot.
Buddha with Hibiscus ‘White Hot.’
Yellow Flowering Lithrops (Living Stones).
Dudleya brittonii (Giant Chalk Dudleya).
Andrew Marvell (1681)
How vainly men themselves amaze
To win the palm, the oak, or bays,
And their uncessant labours see
Crown’d from some single herb or tree,
Whose short and narrow verged shade
Does prudently their toils upbraid;
While all flow’rs and all trees do close
To weave the garlands of repose.
Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence, thy sister dear!
Mistaken long, I sought you then
In busy companies of men;
Your sacred plants, if here below,
Only among the plants will grow.
Society is all but rude,
To this delicious solitude.
No white nor red was ever seen
So am’rous as this lovely green.
Fond lovers, cruel as their flame,
Cut in these trees their mistress’ name;
Little, alas, they know or heed
How far these beauties hers exceed!
Fair trees! wheres’e’er your barks I wound,
No name shall but your own be found.
When we have run our passion’s heat,
Love hither makes his best retreat.
The gods, that mortal beauty chase,
Still in a tree did end their race:
Apollo hunted Daphne so,
Only that she might laurel grow;
And Pan did after Syrinx speed,
Not as a nymph, but for a reed.
What wond’rous life in this I lead!
Ripe apples drop about my head;
The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine;
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach;
Stumbling on melons as I pass,
Ensnar’d with flow’rs, I fall on grass.
Meanwhile the mind, from pleasure less,
Withdraws into its happiness;
The mind, that ocean where each kind
Does straight its own resemblance find,
Yet it creates, transcending these,
Far other worlds, and other seas;
Annihilating all that’s made
To a green thought in a green shade.
Here at the fountain’s sliding foot,
Or at some fruit tree’s mossy root,
Casting the body’s vest aside,
My soul into the boughs does glide;
There like a bird it sits and sings,
Then whets, and combs its silver wings;
And, till prepar’d for longer flight,
Waves in its plumes the various light.
Such was that happy garden-state,
While man there walk’d without a mate;
After a place so pure and sweet,
What other help could yet be meet!
But ’twas beyond a mortal’s share
To wander solitary there:
Two paradises ’twere in one
To live in paradise alone.
How well the skillful gard’ner drew
Of flow’rs and herbs this dial new,
Where from above the milder sun
Does through a fragrant zodiac run;
And as it works, th’ industrious bee
Computes its time as well as we.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckon’d but with herbs and flow’rs!
Len, your photos are definitely worthy of an “A+” grade 😉
I’ve found that with all the science behind photography and composition, sometimes what looks good still boils down to just an emotional feeling, something that just can’t be described. Your photos convey the essence of it, all masterfully composed and properly color graded.
Len Geiger says
Thanks for the kind words Ando.