When I am bored, stressed, or just want to get away from crap that sometimes happens, I grab my tripod, camera, and flash, and head out to my wife’s garden.
I admit that I am not really a flower kind of person and plant names are more my wife’s interest than mine, although, I do try to document her sprawling garden as creatively as I can throughout the seasons.
Somehow pointing a camera at some colourful plant is calming, and wandering through a garden of differing shapes and tones offering photographic opportunities gives me a different experience than any other subject.
Unlike photographing people, animals, scenics, sports or almost any other subject, garden plants just wait to be looked at. One doesn’t have to cajole, creep, or climb, and it’s not necessary to get in a vehicle to search for some secluded or exotic location. Most of us can find a welcoming garden close by that is, in most cases, easily accessible.
The result of 30 years of my wife’s effort has put me in a fortunate position of having about a half-acre of garden right out our front door. However, even if I lived in a city and only had four or five potted plants, I still would have a place in which to get lost.
The past month has been busy keeping me constantly on the go. So when my wife and I went to the car to drive to a mid morning appointment, the doggone thing just stopped working, and I was confronted with another stressful problem. To make a long story short, I was (I’ll use nice words here) very irritated as I watched it disappear down our rural road, chained to the bed of a tow truck.
I stormed around for a while. Then as the bright afternoon sun began dipping into the mountains and the light started to fade I looked around. I had walked back into our yard and was standing hidden from the road in my wife’s garden. Everything was bathed in what photographer John Sexton called “quiet light”.
“It is light that reveals, light that obscures, light that communicates. It is light [that] I listen to. The light late in the day has a distinct quality, as it fades toward the darkness of evening. After sunset there is a gentle leaving of the light, the air begins to still, and a quiet descends. I see magic in the quiet light of dusk…”
As I wrote in the beginning, I was “stressed and just wanted to get away from the crap that happens” So I returned to the house, I grabbed my tripod, camera, and flash, and started looking at the plant shapes waiting in the garden.
Sexton had continued by saying, “I feel quiet, yet intense energy in the natural elements of our habitat. A sense of magic prevails. A sense of mystery – It is a time for contemplation, for listening – a time for making photographs.”
I immediately began to calm down. I wonder if it was the act of setting up a tripod and attaching the camera. Maybe it was figuring out the exposure and balancing the fading light with my flash. It might have been choosing an interesting plant and searching for a creative angle. Or it just might have been all of those together that stole my attention and allowed me to redirect my energies.
Another of my favorite photographers, Robert Mapplethorpe wrote, “With photography, you zero in; you put a lot of energy into short moments, and then you go on to the next thing.” I guess so.
I expect capturing an expression on someone’s face, photographing an exotic scenic or some sporting event, will get more raves from friends than a picture of some delicate flower. But none of those help to relax me and sometimes even trouble me more. So, next time I am, as I was this week, confronted with problems or just feeling pressure. You’ll know where to find me. And maybe it’ll work for some readers, whether it’s in their garden, a public park, or even on the side of the road; there are plenty of photos for the taking.
I enjoy all comments. Thanks, John
My website is at www.enmanscamera.com