I just couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to get out to a safe place and do a little photography. It was early afternoon with a bright blue sky. It wasn’t the best time for color photography, but it was a great time for shadows and black & white, infrared images. My sherpa and I trekked out in my wheel chair, sherpa pushing, and I with my camera in hand. The arboretum was not crowded, so it was easy to keep our “social distance.”
Sherpa was wonderful, moving me to just the right spots for me to create a few images. We saw this lone bench in the shade. The scenery was great and no-one was around. It was a good place to take a break. Thank you sherpa for a great excursion.
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.
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.
We are so lucky to be out in “the country”. Here we can create a place to relax and enjoy nature and the world around us. During our Covid 19 “Stay at Home” directive, I have not felt “cooped-up”. All I have to do is step outside into our garden’s little get away. It is so peaceful and quiet as it lightens my spirt to enjoy the peacefulness around me.
The Japanese Garden is in it’s infancy. We enjoy it now as it is, but also visualize how it will be when it matures. Until it does mature, we will slowly add plantings to fill the voids. My imagination runs wild as it explores the many alternatives we have. Sometimes I have a hard time sleeping at night as I dream about the many opportunities.
Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Veridis’ & Yukimi Lantern Heatherwood Spring
How time flies by so very, very fast! It has been a week and a half since I posted my last photo of our spring bloom. Since then, all 26 of our Japanese Maples have emerged with their spring colors. Their spring emergence has been beautiful. They have gifted us with multiple shades of yellow, orange, light green, pink, red, and burgundy. But, how quickly they start to turn to their summer shades.
I was able to record most of the color during strolls through the garden with my iPhone. I hope to put together a little gallery of the various maples and how they evolve through the year.
I wanted to practice my long exposure techniques. What a better place to work than our Japanese Garden waterfall. My target was to create a soothing feeling of a small segment of our stream as it falls into the pond. I liked how this section of the stream flowed over the edge and bounced off an intermediate rock before it scattered over a rock in the pond.
I have learned so many new things as we have been designing and implementing a Japanese-style garden here in Selah, Washington. The biggest thing that I have learned is how little I know and how much I need to learn. Studying and learning is a big part of the enjoyment that I am receiving from this project. Patience is a key element that I am balancing.
Walking through a Japanese garden is an adventure in discovery. To get to the point where this image is taken, I take a meandering stroll. I enter the garden from our driveway along a gentle bending path and come to a fork. I choose to walk up a gentle slope. The path curves upward to a wide level space where I pause to closely observe a brilliant yellow “Chief Joseph” limber pine. I turn around and see our pond in the distance. I continue to walk up the path to another wide area at the top of a stream. Again I pause to look over the now dry stream bed and over the valley below. After several moment, I cross a large basalt rock bridge over the stream. I turn to my right and see this vignette of the Kotoji and Yukimi lanterns. One leg of the Kotoji is anchored in the stream. The Yukimi is placed on a rock extending over the edge of the pond. On a bright day (without ice or snow covering the pond), I can see the reflection of the Yukimi on the pond. I feel like it acts like a guardian for the koi in the pond.
After I take the photograph, I step back upon the stone bridge. Looking down on the stream, I consider the options that are available to landscape around the stream to create a natural setting. Ideas flow through my mind. Nothing quite gels at the moment. There is no hurry to come up with a design. A landscape is developed over a period of years. It is never completed. Now is the time to have patience and just enjoy what is in front of me.
One Japanese garden design technique is to used “borrowed scenes” from the area around the garden. As much as possible the background elements should look like they are part of the near and mid-range scene, giving it additional depth. As we laid out our Japanese garden last summer, we identified several elements for which we positioned them to take advantage of the background hills and landscape. In this image we used our neighbor’s large front yard tree, their pasture, and their fence to give depth to the Kotoji landscape view.
A walk in garden always prepares me for a beautiful day ahead. My eyes wander all about me. They jump from directly in front of me to the hills and valleys surrounding our garden. Then something clicks and draws me closer. I see a little treasure. I love the morning, afternoon, evening, or whenever I am walking in the garden.
The soft early morning light highlighted this scene. The maple tree, grasses, and pine shrub appear very soft. I enhanced the softness in post processing. The image was exposed to highlight the soft leaves of the Japanese maple. The background was in shade which created a nice dark contrast to the light maple. The image warms me all over.