I love the Michigan flora. Sure, desert plants are interesting and unique, but flowers from a more hospitable environment have a sweeter, gentler nature. They beckon. They encourage. They tempt. They generally do not embed your flesh with sharp spines when you touch a petal or leaf. I like that. This one was so yellow, so creamy smooth, so buttery, I shot a series of pictures then reached out and touched it.
Down the street from my mom’s (our retreat from the desert heat for most of the summer), there is once lovely perennial garden full of color and texture and a story I can only begin to imagine. You can tell it was, at one time, tended with great love and patience and gentle hands. It has now succumbed to a state of disrepair and overgrowth and neglect; the result of age, illness, or death, and the garden was left to its own devices. Since then, it has yielded to a riot of weeds and the occasional wildflower, yet it clings to bygone beauty in a spectacular way. Stunning even in demise.
She sat for a while on this daisy bud so Kat and I could watch her up close. We don’t see ladybugs in the desert. We read about them in books and draw pictures of them with red crayons. Thank goodness for Michigan summers. This may be the first real ladybug of which she’ll have a memory. A real lady ladybug.
In the enlargened version of this picture, you can see the flower’s own reflection. A mirror image of itself – upside-down and backwards. I took this picture in the light of a setting sun, as well as a handful of other shots. They’re all pretty cool so it was hard to pick just one, but I like the blacked out background which makes the flower seem to be lit by a spotlight. A little bit of drama never hurt anybody.
I live in the desert. I am surrounded by desert plants including, but not limited to, palm fronds. Thousands of them. No, I take that back. Probably more like millions of them. But sometimes we can look at the same thing everyday and it starts to blur into the background. We stop noticing it. Then my friend, Deirdre, who doesn’t live anywhere near a palm frond, posted this picture on her site and I thought, “Open your eyes, Lisa.” Thank you, Deirdre, for the inspiration. I hope my copy cat photo is the highest form of flattery.
Occasionally we get some good old fashioned mushrooms sprouting in the grass in the desert, but not like here in Michigan (or anywhere there are more than seven inches of rain a year, for that matter). I found these nestled down in the grass – looking like tiny umbrellas for a family of ladybugs. I’m glad I took the picture when I did. Today, the lawn service mowed them all down.
This is cropped from one of my “failure” photos. Amazingly, though, if I think the picture doesn’t measure up, I only need to take the time to look at it in segments. I think there is always something interesting and beautiful to be salvaged from a photo even if it doesn’t meet all my expectations. This is the top of a flower – not sure what, but I believe some species of sedum. The texture of it is what I found most appealing.
One of the things I learned in my photography class at The Desert Botanical Garden was, “Shoot for shadows, develop for highlights.” Because you can alway add highlights after the fact. But once an image is overexposed, it’s virtually impossible to recapture the shadowy portions of a photo in post-production. Unfortunately, in my efforts to keep it all straight (like learning to golf), I overexposed the petals on this flower. Even adding shadow doesn’t bring back the detail in the leaves. I warmed up the picture, a little, but it’s all part of the learning curve.
I recently finished a Beginning Desert Photography class at The Desert Botanical Garden. It’s part of my quest to upgrade from my Baby Nikon to a D80. The Garden is one of my favorite places in The Valley. It offers an incredible environment to learn and seek out beautiful things in a city I don’t find terribly beautiful. Each class allowed us specific time to get out and shoot whatever we wanted in the garden; landscape, flowers, sunsets, you name it. This dragonfly gratiously posed for all of us to take any number of pictures and I ended up with about a dozen really good ones. Camera-shy, he was not, but in my excitement to capture him, I didn’t shoot darker and had to do some post work to play with the colors and shadows. It’s a learning curve.
I took this shot from a low angle, looking up at the flower which was looking up at the sky. At first I wasn’t crazy about it, but then it grew on me…the way the angle has the flower almost looking longingly to the sun. I like the filtered light in the background; the bokeh, which is not always a bad thing. I like the inspiration this flower has generated for me for several months, now. It changes daily. Supplying neverending opportunity to find something beautiful on any given day…even in the brown of an almost-summer desert.
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