Posted on May 28, 2013
I really love taking photos of my lilac flowers and my plants in general. The older I get, the more I appreciate flowers and growing plants. I just went to Dayton Nursery the other day and spent nearly $100 on flowers and plants for my vegetable garden and was just as thrilled to be shopping for them as I would be for a new piece of photography gear. Walking through the isles of the nursery, I get all dreamy about what all those amazing plants could look like in my yard and flower pots. It doesn’t help that they’re priced so low ($2-$5 per plant) that its nearly an impulse buy to pick up some new flower that you’ve never seen in the nursery before or a plant that you’ve seen growing in other people’s yards and always wanted to try in your own landscaping.
The lilac bushes in my yard were purchased at a landscape auction about 8 years ago. They were anything but healthy looking when I got them home because they had been sitting in a pot all season, waiting for a landscaping contractor to purchase them for use in a client’s yard. The plants were rather bare of leaves and spindly-looking. I dug holes in my awful, rock-filled soil and planted them on either side of my front steps, making the holes large enough to fill a bunch of potting soil around the lilac bushes because the soil in my yard is so dead. After the first summer, I thought the bushes were never going to make it and was certain they would be dead come next spring.
To my surprise, when spring sprung the next year (probably around 2004), the little lilac bushes had leaf buds and even sprung a couple of flowers to assure me that they were alive and kicking. Fast-forward 8 years and dozens of massive prunings to keep the bushes from growing too large, and I have some of the most full, and beautiful lilac bushes in my neighborhood. Every spring I prune the flowers as they begin to fade because that causes more blooms the next year. I have to cut them bushes back about three times per year because they start to choke my front walk and grow into my front porch. This keeps them tidy and dense.
Lilac flowers are some of the most wonderful smelling blooms in nature, in my opinion. They’re so special because they only last for a few weeks, so you fully appreciate them while they’re in bloom. Also, because they have such an abundance of blooms, you don’t feel like you’re taking away from the plant when you take some cuts into your house as decorations. Lilacs are super easy to grow and add a hardy, good-looking green shrub once the flowers fade.
Posted on March 14, 2013
I was rushing out the door this morning trying to get the dogs fed, my lunch packed, and making sure I didn’t forget anything important when I saw an amazing snow squall start to coat the ground and trees with heavy snow. It was falling so quickly and heavily that I knew it wouldn’t last for long so I made the decision to drop everything I was doing, pull out my camera and run into the back yard and fire off a few exposures.
As I expected, the snow didn’t last for long at all. Maybe 5 minutes from start to finish. However, it was so intense it made my backyard look like a fairytale forest that could stretch for hundreds of miles into some distant mountain range. My camera and lens were soaked quickly (a DSLR is much more weather-resistant than a typical point-and-shoot camera thankfully) and there was so much snow falling that the autofocus had the worst time so focusing on the trees I was telling it to use at a focus point.
When I see my backyard looking so beautiful it reminds me that we all tend to run through life with our heads down, hardly taking the time to look up and see the stunning displays that nature is constantly putting on for us and that we should all stop and try to smell the proverbial roses more often.
Here are some really interesting projects that I’ve run across where photographers have limited themselves to photographing just a park bench, or the view from their window and are able to capture an amazing range of diverse photographs from seemingly limited subject matter.
Posted on March 4, 2013
The other day I was in my office and hitting a nice solid wall of writer’s block. I had been in front of the computer for hours and needed to clear my head in order to be productive again. Because I have the luxury of having a home office, sometimes I’ll lay down on my bed and nap or cook up a tasty meal to clear my head. That day, however, the snow was falling in big wet flakes and the sky was a dark slate grey. The snow had largely melted from the ground a few days earlier and the contrast of white snow, grey skies, and dark ground was beautiful.
I decided to grab my camera and lenses and hop in my Jeep to see what I could find and photograph. Experience told me that there was going to be some dramatic photographs to be had with weather like that. I am fortunate to live in a very rural area and nature’s beauty abounds all around me so I drove to an area with cut fields bordered by thick woods in hopes of finding inspiration.
As luck had it, numerous flocks of Canadian geese had decided to hang out in those fields at the same time I did. There were hundreds of geese walking around in the fields all around me. Some were sleeping, some eating, some grooming, and some just chilling out and enjoying a rest. I put on my 55-200 meter lens and started to photograph the beautiful creatures. They don’t move too quickly on the ground so I was able to keep my shutter speed somewhat low and my ISO low. Only when they took flight did I have to crank my shutter speed and ISO to capture them.
The geese allowed me to sit near them for about 15 minutes, during which time I photographed a couple more flocks flying in their classic “V” formation coming in to land in the field. From time to time one or two Canadian geese would fly away, but suddenly and without any apparent reason the entire flock of hundreds of geese suddenly began pounding their wings and took to flight in one throbbing, honking, beautiful mass of feathers and wings. They took off flying west then they all turned east en masse and disappeared from sight. The fields that 30 seconds before has been home to hundreds of noisy birds was suddenly silent and still.