Leaf Art in the Tropics

It’s rare for a plant’s leaves to compete with the flowers for eye-catching beauty, but this tropical bromeliad features some very cool leaves. They look like someone hand-painted them.

#bromeliad, #sonyalpha, #luminar, #phipps, #phippsconservatory, #pittsburgh, #leaves, #art, #color, #design #flower, #nature, #photography, #skylum
This Bromeliad bloom is eye-catching with its bright colored pointed petals, but these leaves are unique. Find this tropical beauty at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh PA. © Catherine Kelly

Stripes and Polka Dots

Would you pair a striped blouse with polka dot pants? It’s not really my style. Can you think of a plant or animal that pairs stripes and polka dots together? That’s right: mix a zebra with a leopard!

This orchid has a unique fashion sense, and she reminds me of a spider. What do you think of her bold design?

#orchid, #stripes, #striped, #bold, #diversity, #phipps, #phippsconservatory, #pittsburgh, #thingstodo, #flower, #nature, #photography, #sonyalpha
This unique orchid can be found at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh PA. ©Catherine Kelly

Picking Up the Camera Again

Staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic knocked me off my constructive and creative track with wildlife and nature photography. I found myself absorbed with cooking, cleaning, gardening and pondering the uncertainties of when restrictions will be lifted. Seriously, how long can this go on? All of us have had the rhythms of our daily lives disrupted, yes?

I knew that if I could get myself to pick up a camera and begin exploring nature in my own backyard, so to speak, that I would begin to feel like myself again. I ventured out to the newly reopened Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh (masked and careful), and indeed the magic reappeared. My vision and my technical skills are intact! Here is the first image I captured.

#vine, #nature, #meaning, #contrast, #why, #pink, #pinkandgreen, #phipps, #depthoffield, #focus, #photography, #sony, #sonyalpha
Can you feel the tug of Nature’s work in sharp focus, standing out before Man’s work, the Conservatory building? Yet, I believe the two elements harmonize. I see the vine as fresh, delicate, independent and strong. I made a deliberate effort to show only the vine in focus by using a wide open aperture with a short depth of field.

Van Gogh Self Portrait

Van Gogh’s Self Portrait was recreated in flowers at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory. The strong shapes and colors in his portrait allowed the Pittsburgh artists to make a remarkable piece.

Do you recognize Van Gogh with his piercing eyes, red beard and straw hat? The choice of plants in the portrait even reflect the different dots of color found in the background and the jacket. Find this recreation of the Self Portrait at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.

The current flower show features rooms inspired by other Van Gogh paintings such as Starry Night, the bar with the pool table, and a Provencal house.

My previous blog featured a landscape photo with clearly defined shapes that are different colors. Do these two compositions inspire your work?

French Formal Gardens, outside France.

The French may have designed the first formal gardens in the 17 century, but many garden designers around the world emulate the style today. Visit the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh for the Spring Flower Show to enjoy the symmetry of the flower beds, bursting with colorful tulips.

Order, rationality, grandeur and symmetry of the 17 century French garden: find it at Phipps, 2019.
Circular tulip bed at Phipps Conservatory, seen through a fish-eye lens, 2017.

Who started this trend? Andre Le Notre designed the formal gardens at the Palace of Versailles from 1662 to 1700. I’m sure you have visited many beautiful formal gardens in your home town or in your world travels. I would love to hear about your favorites.

The Ghost Tulip

“Ghost Tulip” is my own affectionate name for this unique tulip that reminds me of the Ghost Orchid, the elusive tropical orchid that blooms in Florida in mid-summer. Seasonal Florida residents can’t catch a glimpse of the ghost orchid, since they have months ago fled to northern climes.

The Ghost Tulip stands out brilliantly from its green leaves and earthy roots. Find it at the Spring Flower Show, Phipps Conservatory, Pittsburgh.

My good friend Sharon was patient with me as I composed, focused and captured 64 photographs at the Phipps Conservatory Spring Flower Show. I shared with her my thoughts on photographing flowers.

“I’m mainly concerned with finding good compositions here. The background must be simple yet show some depth. If I choose a single flower to dominate the composition, it’s helpful to have a second flower play best supporting actor, to echo the main actor, but play a secondary role, as in this composition,” I added.

Later, “I mentioned that a star pattern is always a good thing, as is an S curve or a diagonal.”

“Why?” she asked. “Ha, ha, good question,” was my reply.

Early Hydrangea

My own hydrangeas around my house won’t bloom until the end of June, but a visit to the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh allowed me to dream of a summer day.

#yellow, #blue, #hydrangea, #summer, #phipps, #Pittsburgh #conservatory
This early blooming hydrangea reveals delicate shades of yellow and blue at Phipps Conservatory.

Does the lush hydrangea bloom evoke memories for you? A daughter’s wedding? Or perhaps a summer vacation in Cape Cod?

Shapes and Colors of Spring

These yellow bells caught my eye at Pittsburgh’s Phipps Conservatory. Look at the twisted tufts of green leaves at the base of the stem, sprouting like a fountain. At the top of the long stems, the yellow bell shaped flowers almost look like shower heads, topped with another tuft of green leaves. Who designed this flower? Can you name it?

#yellow, #green, #leaves, #bells, #tufts, #curly, #flowers, #nature, #spring, #Phipps, #pittsburgh
Enjoy the shapes and colors of Spring at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.

Finds at Phipps Conservatory

If your city offers an indoor botanic garden in a conservatory, you have an escape from winter in your backyard. The Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh offers lush and exotic vegetation displayed with artistic vision at all times of the year. In a recent visit, I found a Japanese theme in a long gallery, where 24 mm lens created a compelling composition.

Japanese umbrellas at Phipps Conservatory
Japanese umbrellas at Phipps Conservatory

Through the years, I have also enjoyed photographing Chihuly glass and gargoyles harmonizing with the plants.

Chihuly glass at Phipps Conservatory, 2008
Chihuly glass at Phipps Conservatory, 2008

Gargoyle at Phipps Conservatory
Gargoyle at Phipps Conservatory

Make a visit to your conservatory today. My favorites are the New York Botanic Garden and the Naples Botanic Garden. Feel free to share your favorites.