Pleasant thoughts…

black krimlr

It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.

Lewis Grizzard
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Peonies…

I planted peonies in my new garden last year. Peonies were one of my favourite flowers as a kid.  I remember them fondly from our garden in the West Island of Montreal. We had lilac bushes, crabapple trees and plum trees. We had irises too. Oh yes, and tulips and daffodils. Marigolds also, I think.

peony garden portrait

This was shot at F 2.2. I wanted a shallow depth of field in order to focus on the bloom. After doing basic conversion in Camera Raw, I added an adjustment layer of Colour Lookup and added Filmlook for, well, the look of film.

But it was the peonies that won my heart for having both a delicate frilled beauty and an unforgettable fragrance, which heralded early summer and its longer, languid days. And peonies had such a short life too — they were a sweet reminder that many good things in life are fleeting, so paying attention and having appreciation is in order.

When I first saw the peonies unfurl to the sun this year, I ran out with my camera to capture them in situ. I quickly bent to have a sniff. I could not believe the scent — it was even better than I remembered. Not sweet or sickly — just perfect. I inhaled deeply. Then I went to work shooting them in the garden.

I like this one, which was shot from above, just because it’s a bit different. I used the adjustment brush to try to bring out the rain drops on the bloom.

After that, I brought one in and placed it in a clear vase. It was still wet from the rain. I took shots from many angles with different apertures, all against a white background, trying to pay attention to the composition. I was going for something pure and simple. Trying to convey the spirit of the peony.

Then I moved the vase into the kitchen so it was backed by my window to the back yard. I made some images in the golden morning light, again with different apertures, but mostly large because I didn’t really want the peonies to have to fight for attention with the back yard!

Once I was finished shooting, I began to process the raw images. I  use Adobe Camera Raw to start with and then for some of the images I played with my new favourite tool in Photoshop, Colour Lookup.

 

This was shot at F 3.2 so it’s crisper and more of the flower is in focus than at larger apertures. Here I wanted to emphasize the golden light in the background.

I don’t very often convert my flower images to black and white unless they are very contrasty. I thought I would see how a more dreamy image turned out. I like it — it’s moody — but in general, I think peonies are better in colour!

peony framed

This was shot at F 2 so it’s really quite painterly and dreamy. It evokes memories of summer as a kid, when we spent almost all our time outside — in the fields and playgrounds and backyards.  We’d come in for supper and be greeted with the scent of peonies in a vase on the table.


August break, Day 28

apples

Today’s prompt for the August Break 2014 is “something new” and these little apples fill the bill. The tree is new too. We planted it two years ago, but it’s not growing as you might imagine, as a stand-alone tree.  We are growing it “espalier-style” up the trellis beside our deck.

The term “espalier” refers to the ancient art of training fruit trees to grow against a wall or flat surface. You prune and tie branches to a frame, often in decorative patterns. This method was often used in traditional walled kitchen gardens and is perfectly suited to growing fruit in the smaller garden.

We had a very tiny city garden in Ottawa before we moved and we grew our first espaliered apple tree against a brick wall in our meditation garden there.

In a temperate climate, planting next to a wall can reflect more sunlight and retain heat overnight. This seems to allow the season to be extended so that fruit has more time to mature.

It was so successful that we decided to do it again at our new house. The young Cortland tree has filled in nicely against the trellis providing not only fruit this year, but the privacy of a nice green screen for our deck.

This summer we installed two more trellises in our backyard renovation project so next year we will be adding two more espaliered fruit trees — an apple and maybe a plum.

How to espalier fruit trees.

 

August break, Day 10

drink2

Drink in the cool stillness and refresh your soul…

I have to say that I’m thrilled with some of the new features of Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CC.  Straightening lines and removing distortion has become so incredibly fast and easy. Problems in perspective and converging verticals used to plague me. I would stay away from photographing buildings and architecture because of that. But no more. 

Here’s a great little video about five features to love. Julieanne Kost, Adobe’s Principal Digital Imaging Evangelist, is one of my favorite teachers — direct, to-the-point and easy to follow. Whether you use PS or Lightroom, she knows all, and teaches all, so well.

You may already be familiar with Julieanne and her tutorials. But did you know that she is also a fabulous photographer? Because she travels so much for her work, she found herself taking lots of pictures out of airplane windows. This resulted in one of the most beautiful and astonishing collections of “window seat” images I’ve ever seen.   Why not take a trip with Julianne?

 

August Break, Day 6

green pepper

August Break, Day 6, Gift from the Garden

Today is Day 6 of the August Break and we’ve been out in the garden cutting peppers and pulling beets.

So my image for today is a “gift from the garden”.

Another gift from the garden is captured in this impressionistic — almost abstract — image by Barbara Hurst, who is a supremely talented American photographer I’ve been following for some time now. Would that not look dramatic framed in large format on a wall?

ES9A2947-Edit

Image by Barbara Hurst Photography. Used with permission.

It seems to me that Barbara’s creativity has been on fire lately. Every time I’ve looked at her blog in recent days, I’ve marvelled at the sheer number of exceptional images she manages to take, process and post in even a very short time. This woman is prolific!

Barbara calls her new site a “visual journal” because she prefers pictures to words when telling the stories of her days — and of her passions. But she doesn’t need a lot of words because she is such a gifted visual story teller.

She is also a master of the perfectly composed collage.

Be prepared to swoon at her nature shots, her still lifes and don’t miss her lensbaby images.

 

Til the last frame of my life…

The butterfly is a flying flower,
The flower a tethered butterfly.

Ponce Denis Ecouchard Le Brun

 

Julia butterfly

Julia butterfly

monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

rice paper butterfly

Rice paper butterfly

 

I want to fly like a Butterfly around this beautiful world, till the last frame of my life and the last click of my heart.

Biju Karakkonam, Nature and Wildlife Photographer

In the sweetness of friendship…

iris

Textures thanks to French Kiss

 

In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

Khalil Gibran

 

June abounds with the birthdays and anniversaries of so many friends and family. So as we go through the month celebrating all of you, I’ll think about all the laughter and pleasures we’ve shared over time and look forward to more.

These beautiful irises are now planted in our front yard, the kind gift of family members with seriously green thumbs.  When we moved to our new home three years ago, we left behind a garden that had taken years to develop, filled with all kinds of flowers and foliage, shrubs and trees. I do miss my irises and my peonies and my magnolia tree and my climbing vines and all the rest of the plants I carefully researched, selected and planted. I miss my quiet and soothing vine-covered meditation garden, my water feature and my granite bench.

But that was then. This is now. It’s time to start again…We began to plant and landscape last year and we added a plum tree, a ginkgo, lilacs and an espaliered apple tree. We planted blueberry and currant bushes and rhubarb. And our vegetable garden will be full of healthy brightly coloured vegetables just as it was for the past two years.

We continue to develop our outdoor space this summer. I’m yearning for more flowers…but they will come…and the irises are a great beginning.