In Southwest Florida, the only kind of rain we get in March is not the wet kind that falls from clouds and waters the plants. No, this time of year it rains yellow blossoms in the breeze.
I associate the perennial blooming of this lovely tree with Spring Break, since we often visited Naples, Florida when my children were on Spring Break in late March. If you take a walk in Naples today, you will see countless numbers of Tabebuia trees in bloom, raining yellow flowers. Are they as numerous as alligators in the Everglades? Well, maybe not, but much prettier.
The delicate curve and pattern of this palm branch and its sharp shadow that echoes on the ground drew me over to photograph this patch of ground. I chose to isolate these elements to emphasize the shapes I noticed.
When it came time to process this infrared photograph, I slid the hue for the foliage over to a hot orange. The hot orange against the white shelly gravel spoke to me about the heat of the tropics. It was a hot afternoon in sunny southwest Florida, the perfect time of day for a high contrast infrared capture.
Infrared photography can really open your eyes and unleash your inner artist. There are so many ways to process an image that captures visible and invisible light above 590 nanometers, that the creative possibilities for rendering a simple scene can be inspiring. Let me explain.
When I go out to shoot Infrared photos, I look for simple compositions (less is more) with interesting shapes, strong contrast and often, a sky. For example, a an image that includes sunlit foliage against the sky will be high contrast. Walking around your familiar environment, you can find these elements. (A perfect COVID-safe activity!)
When you begin to process at the computer, the fun begins. Using some special techniques, you can render the image in black and white, or blue and white, or blue and yellow, or blue and pink, for example. The possibilities are not exactly endless, as they are derived from manipulation of the red and cyan color channels, but there is lots of space for experimentation and expression of personal taste.
The body of work I have created with Infrared photography and creative processing at the Naples Botanical Garden gave me the idea of putting together a book that includes a variety of processing applications. When I share a single print, I get mixed reactions from people who don’t know what to make of this imaging style. I find myself explaining that black and white photography is “not reality,” but it is revered, and has been a part of our art culture for a hundred years. And consider this: fine art painters take liberties with colors, making choices express feelings and moods, rather than literal “photographic” reproduction. In contemporary art, painters have been freed from even a literal rendering of form when they paint in the abstract, right?
I find that most people don’t understand Infrared Photography, as it is uncommon. I am proud to be an Infrared pioneer, and I hope you will join me and enjoy it.
My eyes were drawn to the stripes on these bamboo trunks. These tropical trees are so strong and sturdy, that they are used to make scaffolding in Hong Kong. I remember seeing them when I visited HK in 1998 — just a few years ago!
Every time I visit the Naples Botanical Garden, I notice something new. Do you have a favorite Botanical Garden nearby?
What did you learn today? Whether your field is medicine or teaching or child rearing, I’m sure you learn something new every day. Right now I’m using these few months close to home to learn lots about processing infrared photographs. I’m finding Infrared Photography an interesting creative outlet.
After having a Sony camera converted to capture only Infrared and “SuperColor” light (over 580 nanometers), I learned how to White Balance, Channel Swap, and adjust the hue, saturation and tonality of the color captured. That may be a lot of meaningless jargon to you, but the message is this: it is all quite technical and detailed, but the tools, once mastered, are fun to play with!
Today’s share is a photograph I shot outside the Conservatory of the New York Botanical Garden on October 3. I chose the sharpen the foreground plants while fogging and softening the background. I also chose to feature the golden color we love in the Fall against the deep blue sky. All of these choices are creative ones; I like that this image is uniquely mine.
Sharing positive thoughts and staying in touch with each other during the Coronavirus pandemic will help all of us stay strong as we self-isolate to keep our community healthy. I’m grateful that this photography blog has created a positive online community, and I encourage you to make it stronger. You might follow the blog by entering your email address on the site, and recommending the blog to friends and family. This artist is not seeking financial gain (there is none). The rewards are purely spiritual.
One member of our community asked for more flower photographs and flower names, as she wrote, “I love to learn more about flowers.” (She is also an animal lover.) So, today I bring you the Hong Kong orchid, photographed at the Naples Botanical Garden this year. I first discovered the Hong Kong orchid — where else — in Hong Kong in 1998 while visiting friends there. Now I count myself very fortunate that the orchid trees thrive in tropical southwest Florida, and I have one of these trees on my street.
Do you have a request for the photography featured in the blog? Flora? Fauna? Tropical or Snowy? I still have an archive of Nature, Wildlife and Landscape photography from Jackson Hole and Southwest Florida, but I’m always excited to hear from you. Thank you for strengthening our community.
Walking through the Naples Botanical Garden, I realized that the plants are quite familiar to me, as I have walked the trails with my camera many times. This time, I was on the lookout for something new. At the edge of the water lily pond, I looked for some nice reflections and saw this tall palm tree looking quite a bit like an Impressionist painting.
Just two hours before sunset, the sun was low in the sky and the ripples in the water created the perfect filter. Today, Claude Monet was my inspiration.
The detail and delicacy of a spring peony is best described not with words, but with a photograph. The New York Botanical Garden has a long, luxurious peony bed, full of different colors and varieties. Visit the Botanical Garden on your next visit to New York City. Easily reached on the D train or by Uber. The gift shop is inspiring, too!
Interested in a print? Visit my website or leave me a message in a blog comment. Love to hear from you.
The New York Botanical Garden is currently running a stunning Chihuly glass exhibit, and now is great time to visit. You will find about a dozen installations while you also admire all the spring flowers in bloom and stroll in the beautiful grounds.
It’s no accident that the gifted glass artist Chihuly chooses botanical gardens like Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory or Fort Lauderdale’s botanical garden to display his work. Chihuly glass pieces often take their inspiration from nature, and mimic plant forms with great success.
My daughter and I agreed that this was our favorite piece at the New York Botanical Garden installation.