Lens-Artist: Color Expressions

I love color, I love playing with colors when I create quilts and when I edit my photographs. I had great fun when I was arranging these bouquets of flowers for your pleasure. But I get ahead of myself, here, because what attracts my eye and draws me in with my camera is the play of light and shadow that creates the beauty of colors. The colors in each one of these flowers makes my heart and soul smile – big!

The Naples Botanical Garden has wonderful collections of orchids and water lilies so I have tended to use them the most for my winter posts. Today, for this Lens-Artist Challenge, I decided to show you some of the other colors of the the garden. I have been going two or three times a week and every time I walk around I am surprised by new small splashes of color or changes in the reproductive cycles of those plants that I have been photographing for a few weeks and result in new colors of buds, blossoms or fruits/seed pods (I’m saving those for future posts). I have provided captions for those that I can name – if you know other names I would be very appreciative for your knowledge in the comments section.

I found this last plant in the Idea Garden, where ideas are given for growing flowers and vegetables in the southern Florida tropical climate. Does color have a sense of humor? Can you identify the five colors? The chef at the restaurant in the garden really likes hot peppers for seasoning.

Chinese five color hot pepper

To find out how others are interpreting this photography challenge of “color expressions” you can click on the link.

Getting Ready to go North

Sending some sunshine ahead of us.

A strange thing is happening as we are preparing to head north, as we always do about the middle of April. This year Jim made the proclamation that we weren’t going north until the end of April. He is tired of my eagerness to get “home,” wanting to leave around the 15th – and then complaining that it is still cold in Michigan in April. We are staying a week longer and spending a long week-end with our daughter in North Carolina before completing our snow-bird journey. The strange thing that is happening is that I’m not ready to leave Florida. I finally felt like I was here and enjoying myself as I was walking across the parking lot towards the pool a couple of weeks ago. It was a jolt of awakening to my surroundings and a voice in my head saying how nice it is to be here. The first three months weren’t easy as Jim and I worked together to deal with his double vision and severe fatigue as a result Myasthenia Gravis. We have lived and loved together for so long that what happens to one, happens to the other.

I love the coloring of this one.

The zinnias in the Idea Garden at the Naples Botanical Garden have started me thinking about my northern garden. I have a space where I plant zinnias for some late summer and fall color. The past few years I have planted seeds, then waited and waited for the first blossoms. When I visited the Botanical Garden here in Florida in January the zinnias were just starting to bloom and then a couple of cool months later I noticed they had pulled them all out and the next week they planted another batch of seedlings. I was amazed when they were blooming a couple of weeks later. This year I’m going to buy seedlings to speed things up in my cooler northern garden, but will also be realistic that they won’t bloom as quickly as in hot southern Florida.

We have five more days before we head north so we are eating up what is in the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. I think I can put together some meals that aren’t too weird with the help of the neighborhood grocer with a great fish counter and a deli with really good salads. I’ve been thinking of making a batch of molasses cookies but will need to barter with a neighbor for some butter, maybe for a dozen cookies. On the subject of cooking, I am really looking forward to going north to my new gas range. The one here is electric and even after using electric cook-tops for over 10 years in Michigan and Florida I haven’t learned to regulate the heat so I don’t burn grilled sandwiches. Two grilled sandwiches always take six slices of buttered bread – four to eat and two for the garbage.

I was so enjoying being more relaxed about Covid during our winter months here in Florida. We were spending time with friends at the pool and in our homes, going to very early suppers (late lunch?) at restaurants with outdoor seating, and even forgetting to put masks on when going into grocery stores. These activities felt like getting back to normal. We felt well protected with transmission rates falling and having been vaccinated and boosted. Then four of our friends in our condo association got sick a week ago and tested positive for Covid. I had played in a Rummy Cube tournament at the pool with two of them a week ago Saturday so I could have been infected. Amazing how quickly we put the defenses in gear and also rallied round to make sure friends had tests and people who were sick had enough food and weren’t getting so sick that they needed medical help. Fear moved into our home again as we worried about sick friends who had serious heart problems, and friends who didn’t want to get sick because they had plans to see a 9-month pregnant granddaughter on Easter. And of course we have felt some anxiety about whether Covid would disrupt our schedule for going back to Michigan. We are well stocked with rapid tests so we will make sure we test negative before we leave on Thursday and maybe again before we get to our daughter’s home on Friday.

We are going to take less stuff back and forth this year (said in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021). We both thought we did a good job of bringing less when we drove down last October. We mostly have full wardrobes in both places and have coffee makers and sewing machines and household tools for both homes. As I am starting to put things on the guest beds, I’m wondering why I feel so overwhelmed with packing to go home this time. Maybe it’s because I’m a year older and both of us are having trouble with fatigue. Maybe it is because we are taking some things north for our children. Maybe it is because we are taking almost a week to go home instead of three days, making a stop at our daughter’s home in North Carolina. I think we are doing okay – I just have those week-before-we-leave jitters because I know what needs to be packed but can’t pack because we are still living here for a few days. I have this constantly running brain loop of things I want to remember to take home. Instead of getting ahead of myself like that, I think I’ll just putter around and take a deep breath. I’ve packed for various kinds of trips for too many years to get cocky-jawed about it now.

I think this pairing is a nice one I can use up north.

As I am finishing up this post I am smiling. Although it is snowing in Michigan today I am looking forward to being in my northern home, seeing northern family and friends, and experiencing a northern Spring. Today I have tasks to do and things to pack. And we have an exciting trip north planned this year.

Lens-Artist Challenge: Why the Blur?

This week’s Lens-Artist Challenge is about “bokeh” – that blurring of certain portions of a photo that photographers can achieve with the right settings and point of focus. I have a basic understanding of what I need to do with the camera, but to compensate for my lack of confidence in knowing what I am doing, I frequently take several photos with different aperture settings and sometimes different focal lengths. Then I can chose which photos I think best achieve the goal of bringing out the beauty of my subject. I am a very humble, amateur, self-taught, late-blooming photographer – but I know what I like in the photographs I take and when a photograph can be sent to the thrash can.

I realized, as I was perusing files looking for photographs with blur that is pleasing, that I use blur for many reasons. This first photograph of a lily taken outside my Florida door has a plain wall as a background and I really like the very subtle blur of the bud and leaves behind the in-focus bloom. I wanted the eye of the viewer to explore the beauty of the blossom.

I was drawn to the next subject because of the suggestion of a story in the three blossoms and the beautiful colors in the center. My choice was to keep most of the immediate foliage and flowers in focus to give context to the flowers (instead of zooming in to only portray an individual flower), while blurring a very busy background.

I was taking a photograph of something beyond the little critter below when I noticed him peeking out from behind a leaf. I zoomed in close to him to shortened my depth of field so that he didn’t get lost in the very busy background – something that I image he was trying to do. My primary goal of this photograph, however, was to capture his silhouette through the leaf. The bokeh helped me accomplish my primary purpose instead of being the main purpose. I don’t think I ever make bokeh my primary goal.

The next photograph is one of my favorite tulip photos, taken outside the Boone Tavern Hotel in Berea, Kentucky. The settings I used created a blurring of background shrubs and railing to the extent that they create a sense of depth but also are recognizable so they provide a setting for the tulips – provide a bit of story. I also like the effect of the gradual and subtle blurring towards the back of this bed of tulips. No single tulip is focused, instead the story is all about the beautiful bed of tulips and the blending colors.

When I walk around the Naples Botanical Garden I am always looking for images that can tell a story. When I see beautiful blossoms I think about where they are blooming and wonder about their life-cycle. Because I visit two or three times a week, I make mental notes to check back on our next walk-about to check on changes taking place. I noticed the blooms in the tree below and wanted to record the characteristics of the tree along with the blossom. This time the subtle bokeh helped me retain the structure of the tree while maintaining the focus on the flower. On future visits I will watch for seed pods, to complete the story for a future post.

I think the following photograph is one of my all-time favorites. Maybe I love it because of the subtle tones, its gentleness at this time of pandemic and war. The gentle blur, the bokeh, allows our brain to comprehend the complexity of the clusters of small milkweed flowers while having our eyes drawn to the butterfly and the complexity of the individual blossoms. And of course the total blur of the background and its color creates a perfect ground for the flower.

My objective for the next photo was to blur the gentle movement of the ocean moving towards the shore. The gulf water is much warmer than the water of the Great Lakes. I am always surprised when I take my shoes off and wade in the surf. The blur of the photo, created with a very slow shutter speed, reminds me of the gentleness and warmth of the hour.

Sometimes bokeh blur happens by the simple luck of the shutter click. I’m not going to try to convince you that I planned how to catch that gentle blur of the butterfly’s wing.

Flower of the Day: Pink Quill

I first saw this flower growing in the Orchid Garden of the Naples Botanical Garden but it wasn’t labelled. I took some photos but didn’t post them because I wanted to do a little research to find it’s name. What luck that there were several of these plants hanging on the border wall of the entrance boardwalk when they decorated for the orchid show and it had a pretty little sign telling me what it is. I find it absolutely delightful and hope it brings joy to your life today.

Linked to Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Favorite Flower of Today: Zennia

This was a flower growing in the Botanical Garden in January and I admired the colors for few weeks – and then they were gone. The people of the Naples Garden Club had pulled them and planted a new batch of seedlings. Now I have to wait until they bloom to see what colors the new ones are.

I’m looking forward to sharing some of the flowers blooming in the garden that aren’t water lilies and orchids over the next few weeks, linked with Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge (FOTD).