Night photography    

                                                               

On the two-hour drive to Kelowna my car was filled with Christmas music that we sang along with. After all Christmas is on its way and as I write every year at this time…I like Christmas music.

After missing my annual December Christmas photo trip last year Jo and I were excited and eager to get to Kelowna, check into our hotel, eat supper, and finally after a two year wait, spend a dark evening wandering the decorated and snowy lakefront making pictures. Then get up before the morning sky brightened and make our way to photograph the 120-foot tall “Tree of hope”.

“For 24 years the Tree of Hope at Landmark Centre has been a bright symbol of inspiration and hope to our community. The Tree of Hope is over 120′ tall and has approximately 25,000 energy-efficient bulbs. From late November until January, the Tree of Hope is a visible reminder to the citizens and visitors of Kelowna that the Christmas season is a time of generosity and compassion, bringing joy to friends and family.”

I have been photographing that tree for several years. I discovered it by accident when my wife and I were in Kelowna on some tenants that were leaving a house we owned and by coincidence tenant began changing around the beginning of December for several years in a row.  We would overnight and I would get up before dawn each year to photograph the tree.

When I sold that house it was on December 1st some years ago I decided to stay the night and texted my friend Jo to tell her about photographing the tree and the lake side lights.  At that time I hadn’t known Jo for long, but it was that conversation when she said she wanted to come if I photographed it again. That was the beginning of what we started calling our “photo adventures”.

We sat eating pizza by our fifth floor hotel window that looked out on the lakeside park with people going round and round on the ice skating rink and waited for the sun to go down so we could spend the evening along the waterfront.  Jo had packed our 14-24mm and 17-35mm lenses for the morning photos of the tree, but I used my 24-120mm that evening.

For the dawn photos I like how the blue early morning light separates buildings, slightly iluminates distant clouds and adds background colour to lights, especially Christmas lights.  

We left our hotel about 6:30AM. It was still dark and we were sure we had plenty of time. However, the morning only had a few clouds and the sky began to brighten so we were moving fast once we started to make pictures.

The last time I was there I used a 14-24mm to photographed the tree. This time I had the 16-35mm. There still is distortion along the edges, but unique wide perspective was great and didn’t force me to move back at all.  

Photography after dark (this time of year) allows photographers to visually play with the Xmas lights, reflections and the pools of light on the snow, walkway and, for us, the lake. It’s easy to be creative and even mistakes can be keepers

Photography is a series of problems to be solved  

                 

I received a call last week asking me if I would be willing to photograph a car.  When I retired I made the decision to decline photography jobs.  I pretty much live and breath photography, and I worked as a photographer for over 40 years. 

But when I retired I decided it was time to return to the unrestricted and pure enjoyment that I had when I photographed anything and everything for no other reason than to make pictures after taking that first college photo class in the early 1970s.

So I was somewhat hesitant with my reply to the caller that wanted his car photographed. I think he realized that and quickly finished with, “Oh and my car is a McLaren”.

Geez, of course I quickly agreed to photograph it and said I’d come after I closed my shop at 4:30 to talk about the photographs.

In my imagination I was thinking of all sorts of interesting locations and creative lighting that could try. Gosh, a McLaren race car. That’s a legend that I wanted to see up close and the chance to photograph it would be…hmm…”Pure enjoyment”.

I arrived at his home and was guided to a garage at back of his property. On entering I saw a shinny car with its gull-wing doors wide open. The shop was wall-to-wall machinery and tools.  I’m sure that place put my high school metal shop to shame. And wow, there was a very expensive racecar sitting in the center.

I spent an enjoyable evening listening to the owner discusses his 1974 McLaren and his well-equipped shop.  All the while I was also looking at the space the car was in and clearly remembered all the stuff just outside and in front of the garage door. And asked, “do you want to move the car out or want it photographed right here”.  I all ready knew what he would answer. Damn, there went all the exotic locations and creative lighting.

I often tell people when I am teaching classes that Photography is a series of problems to be solved. Well, as I stepped back as far as I could in the corner between a shelf packed with engine parts and a large drill press to see how far I could stand away from the front corner of the car I was absolutely thinking that this was going to be a “series of problems to solve.”

I asked my friend Jo if she would like come with me, and a week later I was introducing her to the McLaren and it’s owner.

I had brought some speed lights, two large octaboxes, stands and two lenses, my 14-24mm and 24-70mm.  I figured I would need to spend a couple sessions figuring out the light in that cramped location.  As it was, after some testing we decided that we would need lots more lights and additional light defuses.  The next problem would be the time erasing the lightstands and rebuilding the multiple backgrounds where the stands were removed from.

Jo set her camera’s ISO to 2000, crouched down and took a couple shots using the 14-24mm.  When I looked at her images I realized that I could easily change the lighting by under or over exposing my shots. And it would be easier cloning out unwanted reflections and removing background behind the car than returning in a couple of days with more lights, setting them up, then spending time cloning out several lightstands.

With music from ZZ Top on the McLaren’s sound system (I think the owner is a real fan. There were two DVD’s sitting on the car seat) Jo and I photographed the car. 

We constantly traded lenses as we found different angles and places to photograph that car from.  I watched Jo pull her camera’s LCD out and hold the camera low as if she were using one of those old Twin lens cameras that had waste level finders. My camera’s LCD articulates too, I just never have bothered to use it, but that was a good idea and I held my camera over my head at arms length and got some pretty good shots that looked like they were taken from a ladder.

I was glad I included Jo. I knew she looked at her subjects in different ways than I do. It’s always good to work with another photographer.  Now that we have talked about the photos we made and I am now thinking I would like to try some coloured lights and shoot in low light with long exposures. 

Any day with a camera is a good day. Rain, shine or grey. 

   

When a morning is cold, flat and grey I just feel like leaving my camera in it’s bag and staying home with a hot cup of coffee.

On Tuesday I had talked with my friend Jo and made plans to go for a morning drive along the Thompson River.  Jo wanted to try some long exposure photos down by the concrete bridge that crossed the river to the Lafarge Cement Plant.  The river is low right now and it always seems to be windy along the river this time of year. Perfect for slow shutter shots on the dry wide beach.

Tuesday was a sunny, light sweater, fall day and we were hoping Wednesday would be nearly the same. The TV weatherman said Wednesday would be “cloudy and windy”. 

Shouldn’t that mean there would only be some clouds moving through?  Well, it didn’t. Wednesday had a damp, cold wind and there wasn’t a bright spot to be found anywhere in the sky. It had rained all night and the day was grey with an almost depressing flat light. Nevertheless, we packed our cameras in my car headed out. 

 On Photo Argus blog’s introduction by Nate Day he writes, “Staying motivated and inspired is crucial for a photographer’s long-term growth. It’s far more important than having good gear or perfect lighting. After all, if you feel unmotivated, your expensive equipment will lie untouched, collecting dust while you make excuses for why you’re not shooting any photos today.”

That’s a good thought. Heck, we were motivated because any day with a camera is a good day. Rain, shine or grey. 

Jo had a 28-300mm on her camera and I decided to take two cameras; one with my 20-120mm and the other, the Infrared converted, with a 20-40mm.   The day was dismal and I was sure I would be able to get some unusual pictures with the IR camera. 

On a cloudy day that camera doesn’t capture much IR light and depending on the direction I point it I get all sorts of creative exposures. Hmm…maybe “creative” isn’t the correct word.  “Surprising, unexpected, peculiar”, and even “strange” might be better words to use.  But Heck, I was sure if any of my shots worked they would at the least be colourful and make for some fun after I loaded them on my computer and experimented with different programs.

I made several stops trying to get something I liked. But now as I look at my images they aren’t very exciting.  When we finally got to the cement plant Jo got her tripod out and walked down the sandy beach and started doing some long exposures. I took a couple shots with my regular camera, then changed to the IR and wandered up and around some big trees and then along the cold windy shoreline. 

I wasn’t surprised when I looked at my camera’s LCD and saw what looked like dark under exposed images. Flat heavy clouded days seem to trick the meter on that camera. I think the Infrared conversion might be making the exposure inconsistent under heavy clouds. The camera’s Histogram also showed that I was a bit under exposed. I’m not one that checks the LCD much to see if I got the shot. But I do check the Histogram to make sure my exposure is where I want it to be. 

We had a cold time, but a good time.

When I got home I loaded my images and chose those I wanted to change to Black & White and which ones I wanted to enhance the unusual colours.  

The images I converted to B&W took a little time to lighten the dark areas while those I left in colour gave me lots of freedom to manipulate them anyway that looked good to me.

Photography has away been a very creative medium to me and with a camera converted for infrared one can just let loose. No rules.

Photography in the coastal village of Steveston. 

Steveston is a historic place on the outskirts of Metro Vancouver that my friend Jo and I stayed at (and spent the evening photographing) on our trip to the August used camera sale in Richmond. 

We were lucky to be able to book lodging at The Steveston Hotel, a landmark for the village built in1895. 

The last time I visited Steveston must have been about 20 years ago. Other than the marina and the fishermen that sold their fresh catch there wasn’t much.  My wife Linda and I had arrived on a cool December day with our big large format 4X5 inch film cameras. However, as we set up it started to snow a very wet windy snow that forced us to wipe off our cameras and leave. 

We had parked in front of the Steveston Hotel and hoped to get a room, but it was as every time I have checked over the years since then, full with no vacancy.  I didn’t think I could get a room this time either. But as I wrote, we were lucky this time.

Steveston is filled with great places to eat. We chose to get delicious Greek seafood take-out so we could sit out on the boardwalk to enjoy the ocean as the sun went down. 

The waterfront walk was perfect for out-of-town photographers like Jo and I for wandering after dark to make long exposures of the night-lights. Long exposure photographs are just plain fun. All one needs is a camera and tripod. Oh, and an off camera release…that I inconveniently forgot. The off camera release allows one to not only reduce camera shake, but makes it possible to use exposures longer than 30 seconds. 

Because we didn’t have the off-camera releases we were forced to use the self timer to stop the shake and struggle to get interesting lighting effects with only 30 seconds. 

So – set the shutter speed at 30 second, then keep changing the aperture depending on how bright one wants the scene. 

Jo was using a 16-35mm and I had, as usual, my 24-70mm lens. With long exposures we could brighten up the boat’s details and soften the moving water. Some times even lighten the dark sky to blue. 

I also set up my tripod in an alley between brightly lit shops with people walking around that would, as soon as they saw the camera say, “Oh, sorry” and quickly dart to the side so as not to ruin my shot. I would laugh and tell them they were just fine. After all a thirty second exposure is to slow to catch most movements and even if someone stops they were little more than a dark blur on the worn, wood surface of the walkway. 

We were out till a bit after 10pm and all though most visitors had gone home there was no shortage of loud revellers. Tonight as I sit beside the window of my room that looks out on the street, boardwalk and ocean I can hear the odd loud voice happily leaving the bar downstairs and making his or her way to their car. (I am sure there is a designated driver) 

Its’ now 11PM and the street is empty except for what looks like a mom and her two children taking their furry white dog for a last walk on this pleasant cool evening. I’m not really tired and am enjoying looking out on the quiet village as I write. I’ll get up in the morning; enjoy a cup of coffee and a bagel in the cafe downstairs. Then Jo will join me and we will finish the morning walking with our cameras in the salty, seagull filled air before making the drive over the mountain highway home. 

It is always fun to make some time for another Photographer’s adventure. With all the fires and the middle of the night evacuation we went through I have been a bit on edge and getting away to photograph a different environment is more than any doctor could recommend for a frustrated soul.

Sometimes a good photo strikes the imagination.

Sometime in early 1968 I was moving a bunkhouse bed that belonged to another soldier who had served his required time in the Army and left for home.

Under the mattress was a book I had never seen before called “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. About four years later after I too had left that bothersome military chore me and many other young men were forced into, I was wandering through a huge used book sale and came across three books tied together; “The lord of the Rings”. I was so excited with that find that I hid myself away and in a non-stop session read them all. (I will say that my girl friend at the time was not at all understanding with my three-day disappearance)

Like any good story “The Hobbit” often comes to mind when I am in some creative outdoor setting.

This past weekend I joined my friend Jo McAvany and four costumed friends at a cold waterfall surrounded by ice and snow. My main job was to move the large wireless flash around, but I was able the get some photographs of our subjects when they were not posing for the planned portraits. I wasn’t especially trying for anything in particular, mostly just some outtakes that included Jo directing and photographing people.

Most of my photos were not shot with that flash. I was using a 70-200mm and a 24-70mm. I would set the light up for the person Jo was photographing and either wait for someone to randomly look at me or quickly choose a place where I could get a good shot.

I wasn’t expecting much, just some usable individual photos that were different than Jo’s that she could add to those she was giving to her friends.

“My imagination take over”

When I loaded my photos on my computer and selected those I would edit to pass on to Jo I began to see characters that could fit in Tolkien’s wonderful tale. In my imagination I saw water sprites, fairy queens, elves, and wandering heroes. Gosh, there was even the mysterious Tom Bobadil standing in the white snow in front of raging falls with soft green backgrounds and foreboding rock walls.

I didn’t see any of that when I was trudging through the snow and cautiously testing my footing on the slippery ice beside the turbulent icy water when I was photographing our models. Nevertheless, there the story of the Hobbit was as I looked at the images on my computer display. All I had to do was employ some creative and subtle editing to bring the story to life.

Philosopher, writer and composer Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, “The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photography in the month of February

The month of February has been darned cold, wait, I think uncomfortably cold is a better word choice. Despite that, I have spent a lot of my time out walking around.

The days have been bright, painfully bright for me in fact. I have been experiencing a new and colourful world this month.  For the last few years everything I saw has had a warm brown tinge, colours were not brilliant, shadows lacked detail, and it was never very bright.  Even the correct calibration on my computer’s display always looked dim.

Two weeks ago I had my final cataract surgery. (That’s both eyes now) and the world is bright and colourful, and I can’t get enough of it.   My camera’s new storage location is on my kitchen table to be always ready when I want to rush outside. I must admit that many of my photos in the last couple weeks are of nothing more than shadows or colours along the road that I didn’t see before, but I am having fun. 

This past week my friend Jo called and said she had to go to the small town of Falkland and asked if I wanted to get my IR camera and go with her.  The day was cloudless, sunny, very cold and, of course, perfect for photography. 

Fortunately she wasn’t in a hurry, because I kept making her stop so I could photograph everything. Its not that I haven’t taken that forty-plus-minute drive to Falkland a thousand times before in all kind of weather. But I had forgotten how colourful it was.

We stopped to photograph at a quiet roadside church in Westwold, a small community that borders the road along the way.   It was the middle of the week and the snow on the pathway wasn’t even disturbed. I think churches are struggling with the pandemic lockdown.

The church was an excellent subject. Although not very distinctive with it’s non-descript wooden walls. But there are trees near it and hills in the background and I wanted to work with the IR to get strong contrast, luminous trees, a black sky and the white window edging and stark white cross would glow with the reflecting infrared conversion.

That was in the late morning. We continued on to Falkland so Jo could talk with a dog breeder for her Mastiff and I had plenty of time to wander through the trees along a frozen stream.

Before we returned we stopped at the Falkland Pub for a late lunch. I have never been in that place before, its parking lot is usually full of pickup trucks in the winter and any day in the summer one will carefully need to wind their way through rows of Harley Davidsons. But on this day there was only one car and when we went in the human total was only seven including the waitress (That’s a sign of the times I guess) Nevertheless, it was a welcoming place with music and the lunch with beer was good.

The afternoon light had changed and we stopped again at the Westwold church. There were a few more shadows and a slight breeze. Brrr…I didn’t stay for long.

Never mind the cold, the weather will change again soon and all of us that like wandering with our cameras will continue to have fun photographing the changes that happen.

I’m being forced to finish this article. My two cats that are normally running around outside are not very pleased with the drop in temperature and have been staying in the house. Now, at the end of the day they are full of energy and have decided a good place to play is between my computer display and me and after all the running and jumping outbursts are stopping to sit on the keyboard and demand attention.

A good hobby for this lonely and frustrating

Gosh, the provincial government is asking us to restrict our movements and converging with people we know. I am not complaining, not at all…I’m sure we will look back on this frustrating time and know that everything has been for the best, but gosh.

Today the sun came out and I decided it was a good time to go out for a few photos. I have been wandering around my yard trying to get creative everyday in spite of the cold overcast, flat lighting. However, my success rate has been going down.  I suppose I’m getting tired of photographing in the same dim flat light.  I have been waiting for a weather change, any change. Rain, snow, fog or as today, some sun poking through the clouds.

I grabbed my camera with a plan to stroll down the street to photograph things poking through the snow, but when I got as far as my gate then realized my choice of camera and macro lens was wrong.  I ran back in and got my infrared camera with a 20-40mm.

I could see the light at the end of the road was illuminating the trees and thought this would be a good time to (again) photograph that old car the neighbours moved down by their driveway. 
I was glad I had decided to use my IR camera. I have photographed that car many times and after my drab week I needed the creative push that Infrared and the 20-40mm lens gave me.  I don’t know those neighbours and always stay outside their fence, but I can still get creative with different lenses without trespassing.

The light started to change so I walked back home, got my 70-200mm in case I saw any wildlife, stuck a CD titled, “Big Band Christmas” in the car player and drove up the road following the light.

The only wildlife I saw were cows in a field and a dog that barked at me to keep moving as I slowly drove past his property.  I don’t have a dog anymore, but if someone walks on my property two geese and seven ducks will loudly, very loudly, give them their opinion.

I was able to get some great shots of field with hills and clouds in the distance and I stopped many times to just shoot down the tree lined road.

I keep saying that photography is one of the best hobbies one could have in this precarious time.  And for someone that is alone the creative hunt for pleasing photographs absolutely wards off the depression that I understand some people are experiencing.

I’ll finish this with a quote from a documentary photographer I read about. Alec Sloth is known for his photography of small midwestern rural communities.  

“Photography is a very lonely medium. There’s a kind of beautiful loneliness in voyeurism. And that’s why I’m a photographer”

Photographing Halloween witches    

October is the month of witches and ghosts and all things spooky. So when my friend Jo McAvany showed me a photo of a witch posing in the woods and said, “I want to do something like that, but with lots of witches” my enthusiastic reply was “great, what can I do to help”.

Jo started texting her friends asking them to wear spooky makeup and get black outfits that would fit the witchy theme and we made plans for where and how the photograph should be made.

Jo’s idea was to have a coven type scene and thought that including one male amongst the witches would be a good idea.

That would be closest to the writings of Margaret Murray in her 1921 work, “The Witch Cult in Western Europe”. According to her a coven consists of twelve witches and a devil as leader. A Coven is a group in which witches gather.

We didn’t get our twelve witches, but Jo was happy that there were eight women were willing to get dressed in black and make time to be photographed as witches.

I brought speedlights on stands and Jo had a flash trigger on her camera. We originally had the idea to place one flash behind, but one flash wasn’t enough to illuminate everyone so we decided to use only two lights form the front. One placed was off to the side and another directly behind Jo with her camera. However, with many of the shots Jo just cranked the ISO and shot with the fading natural light.

For the later after dark photos where the only light was coming from witches holding candles we didn’t use a flash at all.

Jo did start by trying both a 14-24mm and 24-70mm, but ended up using the longer 70-200mm lens for most of her shots.

I mostly was moving the lights around and making sure they were connecting to the sender. I also wanted to take a few photographs of the participants getting ready and of Jo taking the group photos.

I did take some after dark photos of the witches holding candles on the beach. I used my 24-70mm.

Jo invited another photographer, Bob Clark, to join us.  Bob showed up just as we were finishing, grabbed a light stand, put his flash on it, and whisked some witches off into the dark treed area to take pictures.

The photo session was defiantly a success with some good photos for all the participants to have. Everyone had worked hard to make the witchy Halloween theme.

I am thinking the group photo might make a good Halloween greeting card. Greeting card? Sure, send a friend a card that says, “Have a happy Halloween”.

Next time I want to use a lot more flashes and maybe have coloured gels. I might set some flashes out in my yard next week and try some lighting ideas. Now if I can just find a tiny witches hat and get one of my chickens to sit still while wearing it.

Photographing Pumpkins

 

Halloween is on its way. It’s usually a fun time with costumes, candy, spooky displays, parties and more candy.

This year will probably be a bit calmer and in some places maybe not at all.

Talking with my friend Jo and her husband Shaun. We thought it might be fun to have our own get together. Our safe “Bubble” for Halloween will be Jo, Shaun, their two children, probably our friend Drew and me.

What do we need for party decorations? Well to begin with pumpkins.

That meant a short hour and a half road trip to the town of Ashcroft and a visit to the huge Desert Hills Ranch farm market. I was sure that Desert Hills would not only be a great place to get pumpkins, but also a place that would be packed with photo opportunities, and if we went mid-week we would miss the crowds and be much safer during this blasted and darned inconvenient pandemic.

Jo chose to bring the versatile Nikon 28-300mm lens and, as usual, I mounted my 24-70mm on my camera.

The Desert Hills staff had made acres of different displays using pumpkins that presented endless photo opportunities. Upon arrival I got out of my truck and immediately wandered off pressing my camera’s shutter.

Jo was more goal oriented and headed to the large tents filled with vegetables and grabbed a wagon to fill. I eventually caught up and easily talked Jo’s photogenic children, Emit and Evinn, into running, pulling the wagon, and posing in front of the displays.

I put three big pumpkins in one of the wagons Jo had filled with all sorts’ of fresh vegetables, parked it in the shade and continued on with my photographic adventure.

We were only there for a little more than two hours, but I could have stayed all day. There was so much to photograph and the October pumpkin theme was fun, creative and addictive…I didn’t want to stop taking pictures.

American Photographer Annie Leibovitz once wrote, “The camera makes you forget you’re there. It’s not like you are hiding but you forget, you are just looking so much.”

It was a good day for photography, not to hot and a good combination of sun and high clouds that held back that photo ruining harsh contrast.

As we had hoped, there weren’t a lot of people there. That gave Jo and I lots of room to do photography and it also wasn’t at all dangerous for Emit and Evinn to run around anywhere they wanted.

I’ll slowly go through my image files from that day and convert some into black and white. Black and white Pumpkins look good.

I think, even in this confusing and disturbing time we are struggling through, that there are excellent opportunities for creative and interesting photography. Now that our Desert Hill Ranch Market trip is past and the images are safely waiting on my computer for me to get inventive and imaginative with, I am wondering what I should plan for next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Garden Photos

 

In spite of the chokingly thick, monochromatic, overpowering smoke that is pushing it’s way up from California, Oregon and Washington I can still see that the colours are changing with the coming of fall here in BC.

It has been so hot and dry for the last month that most of the plants are looking rather water starved. I decided this morning was the time to take my camera out in the garden before everything changes again. The first day of Fall is Tuesday September 22nd.

I grabbed my camera, mounted my 70-180mm macro lens on it, placed an off-camera flash trigger on top and put my flash in my jacket pocket.

Even with the murky grey haze there was enough sunlight hacking it’s way through to take pictures without my having to increase my camera’s ISO over 400.

I usually like to have a tripod and even a stand for my light, but this time I thought a leisurely stroll around the yard would be fun.

The Fall garden is so different to photograph than the Spring garden. Spring is so easy with its fresh deep colours and new growth that leaves nothing to the imagination, whereas the Fall garden demands so much of a photographer’s imagination.

It’s the colour and shape that I look for.   Well… maybe more the shape.

English Renaissance statesman and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon wrote, “There ought to be gardens for all months in the year, in which, severally, things of beauty may be then in season.”

I like that quote, His words fit in with how I see my garden. It always is, in every season, a place that I like to walk through and photograph.

Sometimes I get out my backdrop, tripod, lights and lightstands. But this time I just wanted to see what I could find. It had been a lazy morning and I suppose I wasn’t as serious about getting creative images, and I know hand holding a camera for macro photos rarely produces images as sharp as when one uses a tripod. Nevertheless, I thought I should at least photograph some of the yellow leaves and as long as I could keep my shutterspeed up I would reduce camera shake.

I had been working in my garden for the last several days and kept thinking that I should spend some time with my camera. I actually haven’t been working “on my garden” just in it. I have the first 20 of about 30 boards on sawhorses that I brushed sealer brushed on. I decided this would be the summer to put a roof on the last part of my deck. I cut down a couple trees to use as posts and built the roof, now I just have the 14X14 foot ceiling to finish. Then I will be able to sit comfortably rain or shine and enjoy the cool Autumn days.

The days are changing fast and this may be the last chance I get to photograph the garden before its next seasonal change. The weather report predicted much needed rain and as I write I think I can hear it starting, and if it keeps up most of the night I think it might be worth my time to go out with my camera again in the morning. There is always another opportunity for photos in that ever-changing garden.