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Capturing Beauty in Photographs

March 6, 2010

Recently, Melissa at Garden Shoots invited me to participate in a favorite photograph meme. (Thank you, Melissa!) I was simultaneously pleased and humbled, flattered and intimidated. And I found the idea of choosing a single favorite photograph paralyzing. So I did what all good academics do when they are procrastinating – research! It took some detective work, but I eventually traced this meme back to Kella at Kella’s Musings on Growing Her Own, Wildlife and Her Brand of Parenting, who launched what she called the “You Take The Coolest Pictures Award” in honor of her first blogaversary. Here are her rules for the award:

Blog about receiving it and include the award’s photo.

Explain to your readers why you enjoy taking photos.

Share about the type/s of photos you enjoy taking the most.

What camera model and any accessories you use to take your photos.

Link to the giver of the award.

Choose some recipients to pass the award onto.

Let your recipients know accepting the award is not compulsory in the least.

I have loved taking photographs since I picked up my first single lens reflex camera forty years ago. From the beginning, my photography focused almost exclusively on the natural world, usually trying to capture an ephemeral moment of beauty, and most of my photos were taken on camping or hiking trips.

There were rocky Maine coasts, Rocky Maine Coast (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
Along the Appalachian Trail in Maine (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) and quiet back country camping spots,
… and, always, beautiful plants encountered along the way. Montage of plants encountered along the trail (photo credits: Jean Potuchek)

At some point in the 1990s, I also began to photograph plants in gardens I visited. But it wasn’t until 2008, when I found an affordable digital SLR (a Canon Rebel XT), that I joined the digital revolution; and it was then that I began taking photos of my own garden.

I decided to make this “favorite photo” assignment more manageable by limiting myself to the digital photos of my own garden taken in the past two years. In the end, I chose this close-up of Allium giganteum ‘Globemaster’ in the process of transition from bloom to seedhead.Allium giganteum 'Globemaster' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)I like the contrast between the dynamic outward thrust of the flowers and the quiet subtlety of their colors. And in portraying a moment in the life of a plant that is both fleeting and part of a recurring annual cycle, I feel this image captures something at the heart of gardening.

Now for the garden bloggers whose photography I would like to recognize:

Thank you all for beautiful images that enrich my life.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2010 6:24 pm

    Jean, when I passed the award on to Melissa, I should have done some research on it. Moyra did not pass on any of those rules.
    Love your allium shot.

  2. March 6, 2010 7:15 pm

    hi Jean!! Thanks so much for the kind recognition 🙂 i’m very honored and would love to participate. i am also in love with your back country shot. that is gorgeous! the shear color and hue alone is amazing.

  3. March 6, 2010 7:27 pm

    these are beautful shots.

  4. March 6, 2010 7:54 pm

    Hello Jean,
    All those shots are fabulous. The allium flowers are so delicate and detailed … each tiny one making up the whole. Beautiful.
    Meems

    • Jean permalink*
      March 6, 2010 8:17 pm

      Deborah, I don’t think it matters in the least. If you look at Kella’s original post, you will see that she is a very free-spirited sort and would probably be delighted to see all the directions this has gone. But I am an obsessive-compulsive type, so I needed some structure to hang this meme on.

      Allison, I’m so pleased that you’re going to participate. If memory serves correctly (and it may not! why didn’t I label photographs in my younger days?), the back country shot was taken about 25 years ago on a section of the Appalachian Trail about five miles off road near Monson.

      K and Meems, Thanks for your kind words.

  5. Melissa permalink
    March 6, 2010 8:57 pm

    The photos are all gorgeous but I’m especially delighted your “favorite” was the allium. Lovely colors, perfect depth of field and well composed. Terrific!

  6. March 6, 2010 11:39 pm

    Jean – once again your talents blow me away! Your photos are breath-taking, have you had them enlarged for personal art work? I LOVE the Allium – your photo has me diving in my reference books!

    (We are kindred spirits in photography & share camera types! I was mucking around the yard today w/ it in hand… ) -Shyrlene

  7. March 7, 2010 7:47 am

    Love that Allium photo!

  8. March 7, 2010 3:33 pm

    All of these photos are beautiful! I like the colors in you allium shot. Isn’t digital photography wonderful?

  9. March 7, 2010 7:24 pm

    Oh Jean this is a beautiful post… you tickle me with your approach … but then you always are thoughtful and concise! Now I have to follow these rules too… thank you for making it easy. I love the photo you chose… all of the photos are beautiful and each of them invites us to step inside … to enjoy the landscapes or flowers. Inspiring! ;>)

  10. March 7, 2010 9:00 pm

    aloha jean,

    thank you for naming me, its very much appreciated and i will participate, but choosing the one is also going to be a tough call, you’ll just have to see what i end up with done you?

  11. Jean permalink*
    March 7, 2010 10:07 pm

    Thank you all for your comments.

    Melissa, I’m so pleased that you like my allium photo; I feel like a student who just got an A from the teacher on a tough assignment!

    Deb, digital photography is wonderful. I love being able to snap dozens of pictures without worrying about the expense and without having to wait a week to have them developed and see the results. But I think I took time to compose shots more carefully in the old days, and those old Kodachrome prints did have some wonderful colors.

    Shyrlene, I’m interested to hear that you use the same camera. I feel like I haven’t yet learned to make the most of its capabilities, but I somehow never make the time to apply myself to learning its ins and outs. In response to your question, I do have one long-ago photo enlarged to poster size and framed. I have several flower portraits matted and hanging in my office, and I made a calendar of garden photos to give family and friends for Christmas this year.

    Carol, Was it my obsessive-compulsive approach that tickled you or my not-very-subtle way of sneaking in more than one photo? 🙂

    Noel, Thanks for participating, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you choose. Better to think about it as choosing “a” favorite rather than “the” favorite.

  12. March 8, 2010 11:04 am

    Jean, thank you for the honor & recognition! I am sorry I did not get here sooner, but I was so busy this weekend I didn’t read blogs at all. I am so in awe of those top photos of yours. The rocky Maine coast is a favorite place for me to go in my mind when I’m ‘dreaming’…and your 2nd shot is truly award winning…what a beautiful scene, so skillfully composed! I will give this some thought and join in…and I send my sincerest thanks for your kindness! Wow. You have just made my day!! Jan

  13. March 8, 2010 11:18 am

    Great post, Jean! Although there are so many great writers among us, it’s not the same without the photography. A picture can say 1000 words, right?!

  14. March 8, 2010 11:41 am

    That picture of the boat is transporting! I find myself wanting to climb in, row out to the middle of the quiet lake and drop my line in! We’re going camping in the Colorado back country this summer and it can’t get here soon enough!

  15. March 8, 2010 12:43 pm

    What a pretty allium shot, it must’ve been hard to pick just one!

    • Jean permalink*
      March 8, 2010 10:44 pm

      Kimberly and Catherine, I’m glad that you enjoyed this. It was hard to pick just one, Catherine (and you’ll notice that I didn’t exactly pick just one :-)). Fortunately, I had a file called Garden Favorites that I had used to make a screen saver for my computer; so I picked an image from this group that I hadn’t used on the blog before.

      Jan, Since the wonderful images in your posts always make my day, it’s only appropriate that I should return the favor. One of the fun parts of this meme was going back through old photo albums I haven’t opened in decades to reconnect with my history as a photographer.

      Joseph, The back country picture of the boat was one that I had totally forgotten about. It was interesting to see it objectively, as though someone else had taken it, even as it brought back vivid memories of the weekend solo backpacking trip when it was taken. Have fun with your summer back country camping!

  16. March 9, 2010 6:55 pm

    Once again, I cannot take my eyes of the beautiful collage. I don’t believe that Picassa deserves the credit. Choosing which flower goes where is skill some design students will struggle with for 4 years while earning a B.F.A. I presume you do it effortlessly.

  17. March 10, 2010 4:01 am

    You deserve not only that award but a real photography award with tangible prize that goes with it, not only honor! That violet flower photo is not only stunning but great. I just purchased my SLR in lieu of the Point and Shoot digitals. How i wish i can take photos like yours, awesome!

  18. March 10, 2010 4:13 am

    Jean,
    Your Allium portrait is just beautiful. That second images leaves me anxious for the return of the long, lazy days of summer. The photograph of the Maine coast is equally stunning. For the past couple years we have talked about visiting Maine and Acadia Nat’l. Forest, and I remain hopeful that we are able to make the trip soon, as I have not yet been. Thank you for sharing these beautiful images. 🙂

    • Jean permalink*
      March 10, 2010 11:00 pm

      Allan, LOL, I have spent so many years thinking of myself as “not artistic;” I don’t know if I can change my self-concept this late in the game! Picasa doesn’t exactly make the arrangement of the collages effortless because it doesn’t allow you to directly control the placement of images — difficult for a control freak like me! In this case, I specified that the winterberry should go at the center and then kept randomly “shuffling” the other five images until I finally got an arrangement I was happy with.

      Andrea, Thanks so much for your kind words. I once heard a professional photographer say that the secret of taking great photographs was to take lots of photographs — if you take a few hundred, your bound to get a few good ones. One of the things I love about the digital camera is that it doesn’t really cost anything to take all the ones that won’t turn out to be great.

      Liisa, Acadia National Park is a wonderful place. Late June and August are my favorite times there — and late June usually isn’t crowded yet. This photo was taken further east along the Maine coast — actually the easternmost point in the U.S., just across the international bridge from Campobello Island, NB.

  19. March 11, 2010 12:09 pm

    So they say it’s your birthday, dum dum dah dah dum dum. Happy Birthday to ya!

    • Jean permalink*
      March 12, 2010 4:15 pm

      Thanks for the birthday wishes, Jess.

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