October at Longwood – Part 1

Posted October 17, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: photography, Travel

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Last week a fellow photographer and I took a day trip up to Longwood Gardens. From where we live it’s less than two and half hours’ drive, so we got up early and were at the doors when they opened.

Longwood Gardens

Seasonal plantings – including ‘towers’ of mini-pumpkins – welcome visitors to Longwood Gardens in October.

We were there to explore the new Meadow Garden (the subject of my next post) and see what the Flower Garden Walk and conservatories had to offer before the Chrysanthemum Festival kicks off on October 25th.

The day was beautiful – a virtually cloudless sky and pleasant temperatures. Which meant NOT a good day for trying to photograph the gardens where sunlight was involved. Even with a polarizer, we struggled. Longwood doesn’t allow anyone in before 9 am, and so lovely, soft early morning light wasn’t an option.

We did the best we could, and had a good time. Here are the best shots I could get. Next post – the Meadow Garden.


High Summer at the US Botanic Garden

Posted October 3, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: Environment, landscape, photography

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In late August, I took a personal field trip to the US Botanic Garden, located on The Mall in downtown DC. It had been a while since I visited. The National Garden has grown in since its early days and was the site of lots of cleanup work the day I was there, so I didn’t photograph it. But the areas around the entrance to the building were awash with beautiful, full late-summer plantings, both in beds and containers, including those planted as an extension of the garden’s “Amber Waves of Grain” exhibit  (which remains up through October 13).  Hope you enjoy the photos!

Two Hours in Central Park

Posted September 20, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: landscape, photography, Travel

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Several weekends ago, I took a road trip to New Jersey and Connecticut to see some gardens through the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. But the first stop was an overnight in New York City, courtesy of the mother-in-law of a friend I was traveling with. We only had a couple of hours Friday afternoon after we arrived, but we wandered over to Central Park, and my camera’s memory card started filling up fast.

Central Park Mall, American elms

The Mall, Central Park’s widest pedestrian pathway, is also one of its most-photographed features. Avenues of American elms grace its perimeters.

I haven’t been to Central Park in many years, and certainly not since I was trained as a landscape designer. So when we paused to enjoy the Mall (previously called the Promenade), I was ignorant of its significance. But I recognized the huge, mature trees as American Elms (confirmed by some discreet signs) and marveled at the landscape view they provided. Apparently they are one of the Park’s horticultural treasures, and great care is being taken to preserve and care for them.

Steps from the Mall, we saw the Boathouse and lake, a wedding party, bubble blowing, a couple dancing for a photographer, and bikes whizzing by. We heard a young woman singing opera underneath the steps leading down to the lake, and saw a young man who could have stepped out of a Renaissance painting walking slowly as he was photographed by a friend (not to mention by me). Central Park is full of wonders, and this Friday afternoon was no exception.

Chihuly’s Magic at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Posted September 6, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: landscape, photography, Travel, Uncategorized

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Where did summer go? Technically we have until the third week of September before we officially bid adieu to its glories. Fortunately, you have longer than that to catch the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. I made my first visit to the DBG in early August on a bright, sunny Sunday afternoon. The place was packed and the shooting conditions about the most challenging you can imagine with all that sun and all that glass.

The friend who took me said her husband wasn’t a big fan of how the glass sculptures work in the garden (they are in virtually every part of the multi-acre space). In some areas, I agreed with him, but in others I thought the additions were brilliant. A film in the visitor’s center gave us some insight into his work in other venues, including cities like Venice and Jerusalem. If you’re in Denver between now and when the exhibit closes in late November, don’t miss it – and if you go at night, the sculptures are lit! How cool is that?

In the meantime, here are some photos to give you a vicarious experience.

High Summer at Green Spring Gardens

Posted July 18, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: Environment, landscape, Landscape design solutions, photography

Tags: , , , , ,

It’s high summer. Hot as you know what. Here in the metro DC area, gardens are starting to struggle (including mine). So  recently I decided to venture out to Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria VA, a  Fairfax County public garden known for its great plantings (as well as its excellent educational offerings for gardeners). I wanted to see what was blooming, or otherwise looking good, despite the challenging summer climate. Here’s what I found – an impressive mix of annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees. If you live in the area, take a road trip for yourself!

 Garden Shoots will be on vacation until after Labor Day. See you in September!

A Spring Visit to Chanticleer

Posted July 4, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: landscape, photography, Travel

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In May, I was able to make an all too brief visit to Chanticleer Garden on my way to a law school graduation farther north. The day was alternately sunny and cloudy, providing both opportunities and challenges for me as I roamed the grounds. I’ve written about Chanticleer in the spring before, so here I’m sharing only the newest images. As any devotee of this garden knows, however, Chanticleer is always evolving and there’s always something new to discover and photograph. My favorite image from the trip is at the end of the gallery. I was thrilled recently when one of my nieces saw it on my business Facebook page, and asked for a print of it. Hope you like it too.


Chanticleer Garden

The arbor at the bottom of the Gravel Garden, which overlooks the Pond Garden and the Great Lawn, is rich with wisteria and alliums in the foreground.

70 Days of Photos (Part II)

Posted June 20, 2014 by Melissa
Categories: architecture, people, photography

Tags: , , , , ,
photo a day, window light

Window Light on the Floor

Last week I gave some background on the photo a day project I began at the end of March. It’s been a fascinating journey and one I’m still pursuing. This photo, of afternoon light coming through a window onto my dining room rug, epitomizes what I learned from the “Naked Vision” class taught by Colleen Henderson: look around you. There are photographs waiting to be taken everywhere. Small everyday moments that make you catch your breath and reach for your camera shouldn’t be ignored.

Trust your instincts. There is a reason you wanted to photograph that chair, that shadow, that building. Maybe the subjects aren’t grand, but they speak to you, so don’t ignore the urge to capture the image. You don’t have to go somewhere exotic to work on your vision. Another lesson I learned: don’t be afraid of high ISO’s or feel you always need a tripod to capture an image. The opening photo was taken at a high ISO, hand held.

So here are some images I took that are some of my favorites from the workshop. Many of them capture light and shadows, shapes and stillness. A few – to my surprise – feature animals or people (not usually my strong suit). I like them all!

I’m still shooting daily, and will continue to do so until it no longer appeals to me or I feel I need a break. This weekend and next I’m taking an intensive Photoshop class (again with Colleen) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday, so an iPhone image may have to suffice. The important thing is to keep looking and shooting.


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