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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chasing Etherial

The other day, my daughter asked me what I was doing.  “Taking pictures of the garden,” I replied.  When she responded “What else?” and gazed at the ceiling, I laughed.

In defense of my almost eighteen-year-old, the eye-rolling is justified. As soon as May skips in, flowers blossom and I run out with the camera.  Conscious of this compulsion (and the volume of pictures stored on thumb drives), this year, I delayed photographing the Creeping Phlox in the spring; until I panicked I was going to miss it entirely.  Like an alcoholic who takes that first tempting drink, I’ve been out there regularly since.

This morning though, as I climbed ledges and squatted with the Nikon, while attempting to get the right angle to capture the wrought-iron bistro set in front of the Stella d’Oro lilies (too much light), I wondered about this fixation of mine. What compels me to photograph the same things over and over again—specifically, my garden,* which I clamber in and out of several times a week?  It has something to do with capturing a scene at its peak essence—during the height of its appeal.  All summer, I scramble all over my ledges trying to do so, mostly ending up with disappointing results. 

Of course, an experienced photographer stands a better chance of getting a premium shot. Regardless of talent-level though, it’s a nigh-on-to-impossible to capture and freeze perfection.  So, considering my novice photography skills, the whole thing becomes a lot harder.  Not that I’m saying my garden is perfect either, not by a long shot.  I tend to yank things up and replant them anywhere and if it doesn’t work, change things up the next year.  But the individual blossoms making up the ever-changing pallet behind my house are perfect, and it seems to me that if I can capture all that beauty in one frame, the final product should shake a viewer to the core.  But I never get everything just right. 

Few of my pictures look like what I see in my garden…the bees, the butterflies, the un-staked Jacobs Ladder bowed and dropping tiny petals amid the fuchsia Cleome.  Sans the camera, the seasons tell their own story, starting with the jagged lawn and rhododendrons that shrug off the cold in April and May, followed by my beloved violet Phlox that peters out by Memorial Day after reassuring me that winter is gone for good. In June, Dutch Iris, Bell Flowers and Sun Drops fold us into summer.  Day lilies open wide mouths during soft warm days that bleed to a puddle of humid thickness by the end of July.  Late that month, the Balloon Flowers buds puffing up next to the yellow Heliopsis usher in the cool air and rasping cicadas of our stunning August nights.  I can recite the blossoming of this cyclical story in my dreams, but I’ve never taken a photo that reaches the essence of it, no matter how many times I’ve clicked the shutter.

If I lapsed into a coma tomorrow and woke up sometime April-September, I’d know the month by the slide show outside my kitchen window, and yet I fail to capture it with the camera.  My photos remind me of lightening bugs captured in a jar.  They might glow, but the image is nowhere near as spectacular as when you are sitting outside on a dark summer night, and all of a sudden, you see a wink.

*If you want to read more about my photography fixations, your can read here, or here, or here...or even here.



If you want to see the picture by professional photographer Mike Sleeper that I will always wish I took...you can click here.


April starts it all...

May phlox, not to be missed.
June sun drops (blurry picture, grrrr)



Oh how I love July

18 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Liza, you may not be a professional, but your photos are beautiful anyway. Keep taking them!

missing moments said...

Oh, these gardens are gorgeous! Great photos!

Angeline said...

I know the frustrations of being a amateur photographer too. I just want a lens big enough to capture a whole forest.

I once climbed onto a wall to photograph an amazing sunrise, but slipped on some moss and fell off right onto my back. I was ok, just a bit bumped, but I managed to protect my camera!

It won't stop me though, I love photography. Ignore all the rolled eyes, one day you'll get that shot you've always wanted.

Lynda R Young said...

wow, your garden looks amazing. They are great photos.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh my gosh, you are WAY too hard on yourself. Your pics are fantastic!

Su said...

Thanks for dropping by and commenting! Those pics are GORGEOUS! What a fabulous garden you have.

Bish Denham said...

Oh I am SO envious of your lovely garden! I LOVE the contrast of hard and soft, color of flowers grey of rock, green of plant brown of mulch.

And I'm kind of the same way about taking pictures. Just one more shot of the yellow irises, just one more...

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Sometimes I feel this way with my writing. Like I can't quite capture the essence of a scene, the beauty that I'm seeing in my head. It's tough to be an artist like this.

But I have to say your pictures are gorgeous. I've been doing some landscaping, and my garden looks nothing like this. NOTHING. Can you come to my house please? I'll even let you photograph afterwards. My garden needs a green thumb and mine are totally peach.

Wine and Words said...

Your photos are beautiful, even though they can't capture the true essence seen through the thickness of air. And the Mike Sleeper photo? No way. Must be doctored. Photoshopped. How can anything be that perfect through a shutter click?

Helen Ginger said...

I can see why you want to take pictures. These are beautiful. Personally, I think you should choose a few and have them blown up to hang on your wall like artwork.

Ann Best said...

I followed the link to Mike Sleeper. That IS one of the most stunning photos I have ever seen!!! I bookmarked it.

And thanks for your beautiful post, Liza. The earth is indeed varied and astounding in its beauty. Reminds me of some poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Ann Best, Memoir Author

GigglesandGuns said...

As long as you keep trying, eventually you'll get the shots you crave. hile you keep trying I will continue to enjoy your labors:o)

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

I too have a thing for clicking photo after photo of mostly flowers or gardens, not even just my own since I am not that much of a gardener.
I think I just love the ideas of growth and rejuvenation. And natural beauty is just so intriguing even when it is not perfect.

Tracy Farr said...

Beautiful garden and beautiful photographs!

Elana Johnson said...

Beautiful pictures. I do think there's something to be said about what you would miss if you didn't go out there, even just for one day. That's what photography does. It allows us to witness what we missed. Or document that we didn't miss it.

Arlee Bird said...

Nice flower photos. Hope your summer is going well.


Lee
Tossing It Out

Kim Bee said...

Found you on the over 40 page. Thought I'd pop by and say hello. Feel free to pop by if you get a chance. Kim
http://losingitlikealunatic.blogspot.com/
http://cravingsofalunatic.blogspot.com/

Jan Morrison said...

I like your photos and I'm guilty of the same thing. I can't stop taking pictures of my garden, my hens, the bay and of course, all my pals. Oh, the heck with it - it is so satisfying.
Jan Morrison