In mid-August I had the privilege and the pleasure of taking a photography workshop in Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island, BC led by a truly talented photographer, Charles Needle (charlesneedlephoto.com). I had originally encountered Charles when he spoke to our camera club in Indio, CA. I really enjoyed his impressionistic and abstract style of photographs. Since purchasing his book at that presentation, I have tried out many of his techniques. When I saw the workshop advertised I thought it would be a great way to further my skills in photographing flowers and quickly signed up.
I was not disappointed. Charles was full of ideas, encouragement, enthusiasm, and suggestions on how to make the most out of our three days in the gardens. The workshop started with an orientation on the Sunday evening followed by spending mornings in the gardens over the next three days. In the afternoons we had classroom sessions with a return to the gardens later one afternoon. The workshop wound up on the final morning with an image review.
During our time in the gardens, I really didn’t spend a lot of time creating images of large flower beds. Instead, I wanted to spend my time practicing the different techniques we were learning as well as continuing to gain experience with my newly acquired Lensbaby Velvet 56. Some things worked, some didn’t. But it didn’t matter. It was all about experimentation. I was in the moment. It was just me and the flowers and what could I do to best present what I was seeing. Much of the time I was totally unaware of who was around me, even though the gardens were full of tourists (I was, though, consciously aware of not blocking pathways with my tripod or my body).
Some images were more traditional views of flowers.
Others involved close-ups and/or shallow depth of field (area of focus).
In this photo, taken with a wide-angle lens, I loved the mass of zinnias in the foreground with just a bit of the building in the background.
The two images below are different presentations of hydrangeas. The one on the left shows a pattern of pink flowers with one having a prominent white center. The one on the right is a much softer, more delicate view.
What caught my eye with these two Dahlia’s was that one almost appeared like it was a reflection of the other. In taking this image, I played around with illuminating the larger flower with a flashlight.
These two images offer quite different views of a couple of begonias.
The image below, taken in the Japanese Garden, to me evokes a sense of calm. The splotches of light on the ground and the tree trunk caught my eye as I was walking along the path and I had to work quite quickly to capture it as the light started to fade right after I took this image.
Moving into a bit more of an abstract image, this is actually the reflection of a tree on the edge of a pond, turned upside down. It almost seems to be growing out of the lily pads.
What was really fun was playing around with various techniques to create abstract images. The image on the left, below, looks like flowers orbiting around a central one, while on the right the flowers appear to be spiraling into a dark hole.
The contrast between the blue and the yellow in this flower bed caught my eye.
I love the pastel shades in this one.
Could this be a white dove soaring over a field of flowers?
What does your imagination see in this one?
And now (drum roll please) my two favourite images taken at Butchart Gardens:
What this workshop did for me was open up a whole range of options for viewing and photographing flowers. There were other techniques that I tried out that aren’t featured above as my attempts really didn’t pan out this time. But I know that if I keep practicing with those techniques I will come up with images I like. It’s fun and it really is just playing with your camera. And what I really love about the abstract and impressionistic types of photos is that every one is an original. It can’t be duplicated, not even by me. I could go back and photograph the same flower or flower bed and the results would be completely different.
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