PITTSBURGH…Freeze warning tonight. Where did the summer go? Why can’t Indian summer last longer? Just last week, I was soaking up the warm sun at the New York Botanical Garden, admiring the cacti in the Conservatory.
Learning Your Tropical Plants
My first thought of a name for this brilliant bloom was “fireworks,” but I wasn’t far off. This splash of color drew me close at the Naples Botanical Garden. It’s a Starburst bush / Clerodendrum quadriloculare. I was not finding it under searches for “fireworks flower” or “tropical plants,” but my friend Erika, a gifted gardener, led me to its proper name. The Starburst bush is native to New Guinea and the Philippines. No wonder it thrives in the tropical climate of Naples, Florida in the “Garden with Latitude.”
In doing my botanical research, I was tempted to order some seeds and plants, but I don’t currently have access to a garden or gardening tools. I’m hoping my desire to dig and plant will still burn when I return to my home in Pennsylvania.
Tulips at the Frick
The Frick Collection in Pittsburgh is exhibiting Paul and Bunny’s Mellon’s art collection, which normally hangs in the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond. Most of the paintings are from the Impressionist period, including works of Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Sisley, Pissaro, Redon and Morissot, but there are also some equestrian paintings and some post Impressionists like Matisse and Picasso. It’s a fantastic exhibit!
At the same site, you can visit the historic Frick home called “Clayton,” see the late Whitney Snyder’s collection of antique cars and have lunch at the Cafe. Just outside the Cafe, I also enjoyed these tulips in the garden — living, breathing works of art.
Luminous Cactus Flowers
As we take a close look at this blooming cactus, we first notice the spikes and the complimentary colors of the red flowers emerging from the green cactus body. The sunlight and shallow depth of field give us excellent clarity.
But then we notice the delicate spider web illuminated by the sun. Where is the spider, who lives in symbiosis with the cactus, not at all discouraged by the sharp spikes?
I enjoy making notecards and ceramic tiles that feature my nature photographs, and I’m starting to work on some orders for the holidays. Today I processed a sunflower image I shot three years ago in the Denver Botanical Garden, and I will be making 6, 8 and 12″square tiles that feature this image.
On September 7, this lizard made my day. I captured several good photos of him on this choice orange flower, showing the sticky toes, the blue eyebrow, the color streaked back and the purple tongue. I highly recommend a stop at the Hawaiian Botanical Garden if you are visiting the Big Island of Hawaii. It is located in the rainforest just north of Hilo, off Route 19 on the “scenic route.”
A Close Look at a Peony
Macro photography lets you take a careful look at a flower’s center. I also find that the irregularity in a flower makes it special. I was attracted to the darker pink streaks on the petal in the back. In this image, I find my eye is first drawn to the delicate yellow tendrils of the flower’s center. In the asymmetrical composition, that yellow center needs a counter weight, which the fascia-streaked petal provides. Does your eye move the same way? Is your vision attracted to color changes, defined detail and edges?
Dogwood in My Own Backyard
Admiring some beautiful photos of the dogwood blooming in Yosemite, I realized there was an opportunity for me to photograph dogwood blooms in my own backyard — for my two white and two pink dogwood trees are now in bloom.
My photography practice was taking a break during the month of April, as my attention was focused on my father’s failing health, his hospice care, his death, mourning and support of my surviving mother. As you may know from experience, these events can be overwhelming.
Mother’s Day gave me a reason to pause and give myself the time to think about photography again. I sent myself to the garden in the late afternoon to look for some compositions. It’s a challenge to find a composition amid a tree full of blooms and a low vantage point on the ground, but I found a perch on my back porch and the lens to create just the right background bokeh, the 105mm Sigma macro lens.
It’s nice to be reminded that photo opportunities are right there in your own backyard.