Photographing a garden in March  

On the morning of March 3rd I was anxious for the day to begin. The long cold night was very noisy with strong gusting winds, pounding rain and hail. And I wondered if there was damage in my yard. I have a couple of tall dead fur trees in my yard and worried that they might have come down in the wind.

As I made my morning coffee I thought how true that old saying, “March came in like a Lion, goes out like a Lamb.” seemed to be this year.

I try to wander my yard every month with my camera and figured it would be a good day for that. I attached a 70-180mm macro lens to my camera, mounted my flash on a light stand, put on my insulated rubber boots and coat and walked out.

I got lucky this time. Other than picking up two garbage bin lids and a bit of trash that had been in those containers that had blown around, my yard was just fine. So I just ambled around in the deep snow looking for plants that were worthy of a photograph.

I don’t like wasting time waiting for the light to be perfect. I had a flash mounted on a light stand and the High-Speed sync feature that is on modern DSLR camera allowed me to light my subjects from the most pleasing angle.

I meter, under expose, place the speedlight, choose a place to stand, and take the picture.

High-speed flash sync gives me total control over my shutter. If I want to use a wide aperture I just increase the shutterspeed. On days when there is a slight breeze I push that shutterspeed way up, usually shooting at 1/600 or 1/800, and if I need 1/8000th of a second to balance the light and use a wide aperture I have it.

I liked the shape of dried up plants and the leaves still hanging on from last fall. I always look for those, but this year I noticed buds on all the lilacs and some of the bushes that lined the walkway from my car to the house. Three feet of snow, night and morning freezing temperatures didn’t seem to be bothering anything.

Its sometimes hard to grab focus on tiny budding branches, I could have used my tripod. Nevertheless I placed the flash off to one side to create texture and contrast and took my time. I missed a few shots because of the slight breeze or camera shake. But with patience I got some good sharp photos.

The weather forecast is for above freezing temperatures and there isn’t a mention of snow for next week, so I might have caught the plants at the right time. I expect everything might be changing very soon.

One doesn’t’ have to go very far to find interesting and creative subjects to photograph. I know trips to distant locations are great to recharge inspiration and to get those creative juices flowing and I will be happy when higher elevation roads begin to clear so I can drive around a bit more. However, for now I am more than content to stick close to home and photograph the last of winter and the beginning of spring.

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