Category Archives: The Intimate Landscape

The small details, shapes, and textures that catch my eye.

Isolation

“A Peek of the Kotoji”
Heatherwood Fall

I have recognized that I have recently fallen back on making nice snapshots versus compelling images. I tend to fall back into “ruts” from time to time. During this period of “social distancing” and my surgery recovery time, I am looking back on some lessons I have taken on-line from David DuChemin.

The focus on this image is “Isolation.” My exercise last fall was to isolate and enhance the subject and eliminate distractions. My target subject was the Kotoji. I walked around our Japanese Garden to first identify a perspective of the Kotoji that was different from the many that I had taken before. I collected images of a tightly cropped full Kotoji lantern, close-up of detailed Kotoji elements, the Kotoji with the foreground and background, etc. I then continued to walk around and tried to frame the Kotoji with other elements in the Japanese Garden. Finally I worked on creating a “peek” of the Kotoji through a background Japanese maple.

To focus on the subject, I set my focal point and exposed for the front edge of the lantern’s top. The lantern was framed with a void through the Japanese maple. I used a narrow depth of field to blur the maple tree leaves and branches. In post processing, I further blurred and darkened the surrounding leaves and branches to lead the viewers eye to the Kotoji.

This image is not one of my best, but it was an excellent learning experience to purposefully focus on creating a compelling image.

Spirit Clouds

“Emerging Spirits”
The Palouse, SE Washington

What a wonderful gift was given to me while meandering along some back roads north of Walla Walla in the Palouse. Layers of clouds were moving above. It was breezy and fairly dark. It felt like a storm was about to come in. I had an eerie feeling around me. My partner stayed in the car while I ventured out.

I took a long exposure to capture the movement of the clouds. I looked at my image and got excited as I saw rays emerging from the barn almost fighting with the clouds moving across the image. Two different air streams were layered on top of each other. One set of clouds was moving easterly while the other was moving south easterly toward me.

It is time for me to go to the Palouse to wander again. The rolling hills, old homesteads and clouds are calling. Hopefully some local travel will be possible in the relative near future.

Dogwood

Dogwood Bloom Against Japanese Maple
Heatherwood Spring

As I stroll along in our Heatherwood Garden, I always have a camera, at least my iPhone, with me. This Spring, our variegated dogwood only had a few blossoms and they were 7-8 feet from the ground. I looked around to see if I could get a good sky background, but all we had were grey nondescript clouds. I stood on my tip toes extended my arms and tilted the iPhone down just a bit to pick up the deep red of a Japanese Maple as a background. It pays to be tall.

I don’t have to go far for a photographic safari. Everything I need is in our back yard.

Place to Rest and Contemplate

Leu Gardens
Orlando, Florida

One of my focal areas for photography is public and private gardens. I couple this interest with collecting ideas for our own landscape development of Heatherwood. Many of my photographs are simple records of interesting things elements. For others, I try to create an image that reflects the feeling I have for a specific garden design. Yet, for those special ones, I try to create an image that provides a unique perspective of what I see. My adventure through a garden is multi-dimensional. Many times I come up with ideas, but no real “keeper” images. Other times I leave with a nice portfolio of images that presents the beauty of my visit. Other times I come up with a few (maybe one) images that I feel illustrate a little creativity.

The above image is one where I am trying to create the feeling that I experienced when I saw this vignette. It is a peaceful setting where I could relax in the shade, enjoy the beauty of what is around me, and contemplate what is right with this world. It represents a design element that I am trying to create with portions of our Heatherwood landscape. Of course, here in Central Washington, the moss covered trees and tropical vegetation will be replaced with conifers, local trees, and understory vegetation.

Shin Deshojo

Shin Deshojo Japanese Maple
Heatherwood Japanese Garden

How fast things change. The initial color of the first emerging leaves of this Shin Deshojo is a light pinkish red. Within a week they had turned to this brilliant red. Now, a month later, the leaves are a greenish-red color. Soon they will be a medium green. And then in the fall, they will be a brilliant red again. What a wonderful show this little tree gives us over the year.

The different and changing colors of our 26 Japanese Maples consistently catch my eye. Every time I walk through the garden, I look for something different. It is easy to find.

Crabapples, A Look to the Future

Crabapple Grove
Yakima Arboretum

The Yakima Area Arboretum has one of the largest and oldest crabapple collection in the country. In the Spring, the blossoms create a mass of whites, pinks, purples, and reds. The trees are all mature and the blossom display is gorgeous.

The Yakima Arboretum collection is the stimulus that has led me to try to develop a little crabapple grove as part of our home landscape. This Spring, we planted a small grouping of six crabapples, all different varieties. Being young, their spring bloom was just a harbinger of what will be in the next 10 years or so. Over the coming years I look forward to watching them grow and mature. I plan to gradually develop an understory that will pull the grove together and complement the individual trees.

Shapes, Textures, Tones & Patience

“Hosta, Japanese Maple, & Ground Cover”
Fountainville, PA Garden

Tones, textures, and shapes all combine to provide vignettes of enjoyment for me. Simple things perk my interest. I first see the bright chartreuse of the hosta jump out at me. I stop, focus, and follow the lines and shapes of the leaves. I am drawn into the details. The dense and darker ground cover creates a base supporting the hosta leaves. I raise my eyes and see the small, delicate leaves of the Japanese Maple trickling down over the large hosta leaves protecting them from the bright sun. What a wonderful moment I experience just enjoying the simple beauty of a garden.

It took many years to create this vignette. First, we dug up a portion of our yard and added a good quanty of fill dirt and top soil to create a planting bed. We edged the bed with Pennsylvania blue stone to keep the dirt from flowing over to the grass and gravel walk way. Our first planting was a bed of petunias. They were beautiful but took a lot of maintenance to keep them looking neat. After a couple of years, we planted a Sango Kaku Japanese Maple on the corner of the bed. We planted several sun loving plants around the base of the maple and patiently waited until the maple created enough shade to plant shade-loving plants. We gradually pulled out and transplanted the sun-lovers and replaced them with hostas and other shade plants. Over the years the ground cover spread as the hostas grew. The bottom branches of the Sango Kaku flowed down to provide the shade the hosta needed. Fifteen years after we moved in, we had a beautiful bed with Japanese Maples at each end, medium sized shrubs in the middle, and all the ground covered with ground cover and shade-loving plants. Small vignettes were scattered all around.

Now on the other side of the country, we are starting over to develop a landscape that will have a similar feeling. Now we have small trees and shrubs and a lot of sun-loving plants. The areas between are covered with bark. We patiently will wait for nature to do its work to develop the mini environments to create vignettes like the one above. We celebrate the little things that make up the wonder of nature and life.

Crazy and Different

“A Different Perspective”
Yakima Arboretum, Washington

I was a little bored today, so I decided to just play around with some recent infrared images of the Yakima Arboretum. From time to time, I get in a little rut of processing images using my “standard” process. Using advice from Tony Sweet a long, long time ago, when in a rut, try something crazy and different. So I did, using Lightroom, SilverEfex Pro, and Topaz Study, this is today’s result.

Framed In

Flagstone Path in Japanese Garden
Heatherwood Spring

This is another one of the little views that we have in our garden. This is what we see as we walk along the flagstone path in the front of the house then turn the corner around the edge. A crab apple on our left and a Shishigashira Japanese Maple and a varigated dogwood on the right frame the view along the curving path. The view is full of color and texture through all the seasons of the year. In the early spring and late fall, the early morning sun breaks over the horizon just above the path.

Borrowed Scenery

Chief Joseph and Selah Ridge
Heatherwood Spring

One of the design techniques in Japanese Gardens is to use a “borrowed” background to enhance the garden’s visual size. Here, we used the orchard and Selah Ridge to enhance the scene from this perspective. In the design process we layed out the path through the garden and the specific plantings to create these types of views. We tried to create multiple view points that would lend themselves to photographic interest.