A Gentle Beginning

Don't Go Yet...
Don’t Go Yet…

Moments like this tempt me to believe that leaves exist just to catch snowflakes.

It’s easy to be grateful for our seasons when we get to enjoy the magic that a gentle snowfall brings to the back yard garden.

‘Nuff said about that. I’ll quit while I’m ahead.

 

A Garden Speaks

A solitary sweet pea grows in our garden
A solitary sweet pea grows in our garden

A messy garden doesn’t reveal much about the occupant – basically like you have other priorities in life, leaving your neighbours to guess – or inquire – what they might be. You remain a private and, to the house-proud, a frustrating enigma.

A well-gardened property says a lot about who you are and what you value. It says that you have an eye for beauty if it’s mostly flowers and shrubs. Plantings of tomatoes, beans or onions on their own or among the flowers says you like fresh, home-grown fruit and/or vegetables. Our garden is mostly beauty with some edible stuff mixed in. We have several gardens, a small shed and a two-story house on our ~ 50′ by 145′ lot. We bought this place in 1985. It was one year old then, so we get the credit or the blame for how it looks now.

In the mid-1970’s I planted some corn outside our ground floor apartment in Etobicoke. It was cool to wake up and see the corn stalks waving in the morning breeze through our bedroom window. The message to our neighbours was probably that we were a little nuts. I was raised in the city, so there was no nostalgia involved. I didn’t say that a garden reveals everything about you.

Continue reading “A Garden Speaks”

Crocus

 

Crocus Cries, "Spring!"
Crocus

Crocus laconique, saillant

Montre nous, les hommes

Comment passer sans rancoeur

 

Reflecting on this photo this morning (now Tuesday, two days after I posted this photo on Sunday) I realized that the tiny plant that had made me think so carefully since then deserved a poem. I wrote it in French mainly because the French “sans” saved me a syllable and thereby satisfied the rigor of the Haiku, but discovered that I liked the sound, lucidity and subtlety of what I could say in French much better than what I had produced in English. After posting this photo on Sunday, I have reflected long upon the flower’s shockingly short life in bloom and realized that little brother Crocus was rewarding me for my attention by teaching me a surprising lesson. The lessons for me were several (cyclicity, fleetingness, acceptance, grace, opportunity, attention, action, brilliance…) but I will highlight this one:

The beauty of the crocus bloom is made more precious by its very fleetingness.

Still more learning: Writing a poem with strict parameters is a process of discovery in any language. One is forced to forage around for the right word and the searching often reveals better words that don’t quickly come to mind. Continue reading “Crocus”

A Little More Macro

The two above photos were taken on a walk through “Our Woods.” Since I was part of a twosome and the only keen shutterbug in our faithful pair, I did not set up a tripod. Both of these shots were thus necessarily hand held and taken, purposefully, at f 2.8, the maximum aperture of my Tamron 90 mm macro lens. The camera was my Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D DSLR, a dependable relic from around 2006. Focus was also manual since I wanted quick and interpretative control over subjects that were moving in the breeze. The speed was 1/400 sec – as fast as possible at 100 ISO.

I also took one of a small bee in a yellow flower, but that will be in a future post. Bees are endangered by various threats such as, many suspect, pesticides. The corporations that make pesticides are, sadly, not endangered. They thrive with the help of deep pockets, too many rights and unscrupulous legal hound-dogs. Apparently they can sue all of Europe simultaneously.

So this little bug got me thinking about the world – which is usually followed by compulsive writing…

Desert Lily

1/250 th, f-2.8, ISO 100, 90 mm Tamron macro lens
1/250th, f-2.8, ISO 100, 90 mm Tamron macro lens

Doing some macro experiments with my old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D DSLR and my Tamron 90mm f 2.8 macro lens. Today I photographed our desert lily, a present to Anita from our niece, Avril, years ago. It produces beautiful blooms some years and this was a good year. The plant sits in the dining room bay window during the winter and gets placed on our deck once the risk of frost is gone. It is back in the house now.

I have not done much really close-up macro photography, so I re-read my Freeman Patterson primer, Photographing the World Around You, and set up the camera on a tripod. I played with camera angle, f-stop and shutter speed. Of course, manual focus was used interpretatively.

This was the first photo I took and is arguably the best – by accident. I didn’t have the focus perfect on the foremost petal’s tip as I’d intended, but the crisp highlights in the curve underneath it were brought out. Also, there was a tiny thread of dust attached to the petal that distracted from the overall effect when the focus was where I had wanted it – impossible to see in the Maxxum’s outdated, small monitor playback. Learning requires patience and serendipity behaved, as usual, as my best friend.

I selected three photos for this post. They will be up as soon as FB zeroes in on this one above for the link to this post. (I don’t like the way FB locks onto one photo of IT’S choosing for the link so that any future attempts to use a different photo are made impossible.)

Here they are:

The first two are unaltered. In the last one the only change was a 30% enhancement of its saturation, which had the effect of increasing the brightness of the top-left curl.

Slow Shutter Speed

Small Waterfall in Our Woods
Small Waterfall in Our Woods

My first successful experiment with long exposure times. I like the silken look of the water in this and the lack of obvious scale. It’s pretty hard to tell how big or small the waterfall is. Gotta say I didn’t stay out too long as it was threatening rain (I felt a few drops). This was taken with my old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D SLR using a Tamron f 2.8 90 mm macro lens and shutter speed priority. Exposure: 1 s, f-stop 29, ISO 100. I used a tripod and a cable shutter release and manual focusing. Tried different exposure times; this one worked best. Continue reading “Slow Shutter Speed”