Saturday, July 23, 2016

Foto Art Friday – July 22, 2016
Midnight Garden
Last weekend, I photographed a place I call the Secret Garden that’s part of a local nursery here in New Mexico.  I loved this birdbath overflowing with petunias.  I converted the image that I took to a watercolor painting effect, and kept thinking it reminded me quite a bit of something one could see in the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia (made famous by the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”).  This piece is a tribute to that.  The background is music because it seems like such a lyrical piece.  Paint splotches (Credit: soul poison and on_thin_air) and an abstract background created by me make up the blended layers to this piece.
Midnight Garden

Monday, July 18, 2016

Bright Blooms
Of course, the stars of any garden are the bright, or at least striking, blooms and plants that we see.  This garden, on this morning, certainly did not disappoint.  Beautiful blooms galore….and one that was so striking I had to include it even tho it’s doesn’t meet the definition of the word “bright”…
Pink Beauties
These blooms were right next to the one the bee was busily working on.  Altho I really liked the original image of them, I felt they needed a bit more of a special touch, so I converted the image to a pastel painting effect.  It really highlights there simple beauty and just the joy that seems to leap from their petals.
Rose Unfurling
I’m not generally struck by roses unless they are in full bloom, but there was something about this rose, with its one petal unfurled, that captured my attention, and I just felt like I had to capture its gentle awakening.
Tousled Petals
There was certainly nothing gentle about this bloom.  It fairly yelled “Look at me!”….and I did!  It was a bit of a windy day, so perhaps that’s why the petals on this sunflower were rather tousled looking!
Bright Center
Now, we’re shifting gears back to the gentle nature of some flowers.  This lone little blossom just seemed to cry out to be noticed…..and with the very bright center, I couldn’t help but do just exactly that!  I love the contrast between that bright center and the soft subtle, yet rich, color of its petals and the surrounding greenery.
Royal Color
This is the same blossom from a different angle.  And, it’s amazing how much brighter the petals are – it’s just the slightly different angle and how the sun plays off the flower.  Now, the entire flower seems equally bright when compared with the yellow center.
I love how these sunflowers just seemed to “pop” against the dark background of the area around the pond.  It almost seemed as if they were glowing!  They are such happy flowers, I couldn’t resist including them in this post.
Hosta Blooms
The hostas were blooming, too, on this morning, and I was lucky enough to be able to get up close and personal with some of those blooms.  I never realized how lovely and delicate they are.  I felt as if I breathed too hard, they would just fall apart.
And, finally, I’m ending with a type of plant more commonly thought of growing in the southwest – cactus!  This is a variation of a yucca plant, I believe, and I really loved the graphic nature of its broad leaves.  As I processed this image, I thought the graphic nature of the plant called for this image to be a black and white image, so thru the magic of digital processing, that’s what it became!

Garden Residents
I have heard there’s a snake that lives in this garden, but I’ve never come across it.  However, on this garden visit, I did come across a couple of other residents that seemed agreeable to having their photo taken…..
Bee Shadow
This little bee was hard at work, getting nectar from the daisy type blooms.  He allowed me to get up nice and close to him, and altho I didn’t get a very good angle for a direct image of him, I was in the perfect spot to get a great image of his shadow!  I wish I could say I noticed this as I was taking his photo, but, I didn’t.  It was such a great surprise to me as I processed this image!
Perched on a Blossom
This may be the most perfect image of a butterfly I’ve ever captured.  What was so wonderful about this little guy was that he stayed put on this blossom for several seconds, just slowly opening and closing his wings, as if allowing me to get just the best possible shot.  I have 2 that I like, but I think this one might just show him off the best.

Peaceful Place
There are times when I just need to get back close to nature, in order to renew my spirit.  I’m lucky to have a great place to do that fairly close to home.  What makes this place even more special is that it’s only available for a few months each year, and only on the weekends.  It’s a nursery in the small town where I live, and this garden is what I think of as a Secret Garden.  It’s not advertised, and it’s not even apparent that there is a garden hidden away when you first enter the nursery.  However, after one visit to it, you’ll never forget it.  I was lucky enough to visit it this past weekend…..

Petunia Fountain
Every time I visit this garden, I notice something new and wonderful.  Today, it was this birdbath that has become a sort of fountain with petunias overflowing the rim.  I especially love the lushness of the greenery surrounding it.  Hard to believe this is in the middle of New Mexico!  Looking at this, I was reminded of the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia, where we visited earlier this year.  It’s the same sort of lushness that was everywhere in the cemetery.  I was so taken with this image, I decided to also convert it to a watercolor image (see below).  I couldn’t decide which one I liked more, so I thought I’d share both with you.
Petunia Fountain – Watercolor
Waterlily Bud
Another place I truly love in this garden is a lovely pond that’s sort of tucked away.  On the morning that I visited, I didn’t see any waterlilies in full bloom, but I did notice this little beauty, just sort of peeking out at me.  I love its reflection in the water, and the sort of small pool of water sitting on a nearby pad.
Pond Reflection
As I wandered around the pond, I came upon this spectacular view, peeking out from some weeping willow trees that are along the pond.  You can see the lily pads are the far side of the pond, and all the trees that sort of hover over this watery jewel of the garden.
When I lived in the Midwest, I loved hostas.  They are generally rather a shade loving plant, so I didn’t really think I’d ever find them growing in New Mexico, but in this garden, anything is possible!  Here is a row of them, growing just as happy as can be!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Foto Art Friday – July 15, 2016
I just received some vintage handwriting pieces that I’ve yet to scan into my computer to use in my art.  However, that didn’t stop me from imagining a piece that has some vintage writing in the background.  I found a piece that I had scanned some time ago – a love letter – and immediately felt this was the beginning of this piece.  I used a photograph of some lovely green foliage I took at the San Diego Botanic Garden, as well as one of a waterlily that I took at the same place.  I blurred the foliage image and blended it with the vintage love letter.  I then placed the water lily on top of that, and did some gentle blending.  I didn’t want to do too much, and lose the water lily, but I did want the letter to still be visible.  I added some brushes of vines and decided the piece was finished.  Sometimes, less is more.  Credit: Falln Stock (brushes).
Love Letter

Friday, July 8, 2016

Foto Art Friday – July 8, 2016
There’s been a lot of conversation lately about transparency, or the lack thereof, depending on one’s perspective.  And, as I was looking thru some of the deserted cabin images I took a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that one image of a cabin really spoke to transparency, as it no longer had a door, and I could see right thru it.  I thought that the history of this cabin was, in a way, an open book, and fairly transparent.  The land used to be ranch or farm land, so most likely the people that inhabited this cabin worked the land in one way or another.  So, I thought an open book image that I had would be a good background.  I then notice some of the text of the book page that I had included – “grand blessing of life” – and decided to highlight that phrase. It just somehow seemed appropriate for the history of this cabin.  Credit:  Specialty brushes by soul poison and SS.
Open Book

Friday, July 1, 2016

July 1 Foto Art Friday
Right now, my life isn’t really all that adventurous, and I find I’m rather missing that.  But, the bird in this image certainly appears to be in the middle of a wonderful adventure, and I imagine his heart is singing with joy because of that.  So, for this piece, I used a piece of vintage sheet music as a background, and layered and blended a couple of images of the sunrise that I shot a few days ago.  I then added the quote from Helen Keller it’s one of my favorites.
Daring Adventure

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Beach Inhabitants in San Diego
I have always thought that seagulls are such characters, and the ones in San Diego didn’t disappoint! 
Here’s Looking at You
Yep, definitely a character!  I loved this guy, just daring me to come closer to get the shot.  Of course, if I had done that, he would have flown away!  Still, I love the character of this guy!
There’s Always One
These four would pose in perfect alignment until they noticed my camera.  Then, one of them would look up, down or around!  It reminded me of little kids when you want to photograph them!
Flyin’ Free
I watched them carefully, and managed to capture this shot of one of them as they took off just over the surf.  For as corny as they sometimes look on shore, they sure are graceful once airborn.
Flyin’ Free II
I just kept following him with my camera and got him as he soared over the water.  I loved the artistry that they portray when they fly, and the sense of loneliness of this image.
Flyin’ Free III
Now, image doesn’t convey loneliness to me it says freedom..and joy.

San Diego Beach Waves
When I was in San Diego the other week, one day we went on a walk down the beach.  We had sort of thought about not going, because it was a “June gloom” type of day, with overcast skies and no sun.  But, then I thought it might make for some interesting mood shots, so we decided to give it a go!  Was that a good decision?  I’ll let these images speak for themselves!
Rollin’ In
The waves were rather rough on this day, and I couldn’t resist capturing a close up of the wave action.  There were some surfers out there, in their wet suits.  We had on some light fleece type jackets when there’s no sun, it’s a might chilly at the beach! 
Rough Surf
Here’s a better shot to give you an idea of how rough the waves were.  I tried to take my images so that people generally didn’t appear in them, but don’t be fooled.  There were quite a number of folks there enjoying the beach despite the surf and the lack of sun!  Still, my friend told me it was far less crowded than it typically is.
Rollin’ In and Out
I loved the sense of motion that this image gives you or at least, that it gives me!  The waves were being drawn back out into the ocean, and I can sort of feel that by looking at this image.  The next couple of images are of the same theme rolling waves in or out!
I really was taken by how the retreating waves left their “mark” on the sand kind of like a piece of abstract art.
Lines in the Sand
In this image, the waves are sort of at that “in between” stage between rolling in and being drawn back out again.  I was fascinated by the design of it all!
Into the Surf
As I said, there were plenty of people on the beach, and this little girl was so sweet, I had to capture her in a watercolor like image.  She would run as close to the surf as she could get, sort of chasing it as it rolled out.  She then sat in the sand until it began to come back in, waiting until the last minute before she raced back up the beach, laughing all the way!
Formation Flight
This image is actually a compilation of 3 images the base is actually a photo of some cloud formation that I took back home in New Mexico a while ago.  However, the image of the seagulls flying and the surf pounding the shore is from San Diego!  The seagulls were flying over sand, not water, but thru the magic of PhotoShop, they are ow flying over the water, where they look best!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Beautiful Blooms at San Diego’s Botanic Garden
A couple of weeks ago, I visited some friends in San Diego.  One afternoon, we visited the Botanic Garden there, and there were so many varieties of beauty to see.  In this blog post, I’ll share some of the floral blooms.
Gold Star
This flower is named Gold Star – for obvious reasons, I think!  It’s originally from Mexico, but is flourishing at the botanic garden in San Diego.  I especially like the reddish detail on the inside of the petals.  It sort of draws you into the heart of the bloom.
Hard at Work
This flower is called a Globe Artichoke – I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an artichoke blooming, but now I can add that to my list of new experiences!  I can’t tell you how many shots I took of this bloom with bees hovering around it before I got this perfect shot!  Thank goodness for digital cameras – saves me a fortune on processing prints!  I love the detail that I was (finally!) able to capture on the bee.
This image struck me because of the lighting.  I love how the sun cast a wonderfully soft spotlight on this bloom.  It makes the flower seem like it’s glowing.  Altho it was early afternoon and the sun was at its strongest, I think its rays were diffused by some trees overhead.
Perfect Petals
It’s not often that I see a truly perfect bloom, with all the petals intact and so symmetrical.  The other thing that drew me to this bloom is the coloring.  The deep center, and then the variation of color on the petals.  It almost looks fake, like some florist did some magical coloring on it, but all the magic of this bloom was provided by Nature!
Rich Red
One of the best color combinations in nature is red and green.  Yes, I know – Christmas colors – but they also serve to set each other off so well in nature.  The red of this bloom is perfectly balanced with the green leaves of the plant.  When the lighter color stalks are added in, it’s a nice soft place to rest our eyes and a great offset for the rich colors on this plant and bloom.
Red Top Thistle
Generally speaking, thistles aren’t that pretty of a plant…..except when it’s blooming!  Then, the rich red top seems to be the perfect counterpoint for the spikey thorns and pale coloring on the rest of the plant.  Almost makes me want to reach out and touch it…..almost!
Stark Beauty
I have never seen this flower before.  I’m not certain if the color is red or purple, or something in between.  But between the dramatic markings on the petals, and the contrast between the pale and bold colors, this flower is quite stunningly beautiful.

Succulents at the Botanic Garden
As a stark contrast to the thin leaves and blooms of “regular” flowers, the succulents seem almost plump by comparison.  Succulents can go a long time between watering, and that’s because they store water when they do get it in their leaves.  You’ll see what I mean when you check out some of the images below!
Altho the leaves on this cactus are thick, what I truly noticed about it were the sharp points at the edges of its leaves.  No, I didn’t touch it to see if they were as sharp as they look – I let their appearance speak for themselves!
I love this sort of bunch of different succulent blooms.  They were actually structured so that they formed the skirt of a young woman.  I have to admit, I wasn’t all that taken with the “sculpture” created, but I did like how these looked so closely grouped together, so I decided to just focus on one part of the overall sort of statue.
Golden Succulents
Here’s an image where you can really get an idea of how thick and plump the petals or leaves of the plant are.  And, the color is just so luscious!  I just had to get in close for this image, so that you just feel sort of immersed in the color and texture of it!

A Category of Their Own – at San Diego Botanic Garden
There were many different types of plants and flowers at the botanic garden, and some just didn’t quite fall into a category that I could easily identify.  So, I say, they are in a category of their own!  Check them out –
Mysore Fig Tree
The Mysore Fig Tree is from India and is a member of the ficus family of plants.  It’s said the tree is prized for its leaves, but I was primarily impressed by the above-ground root system!  I did include the leaves in this image, but my focus was on the roots – so cool!
Narrow Leaf Tea Tree
What a different looking tree this is!  It’s a pine tree with the fuzzy “blooms” on its tips.  This tree is from Australia, and is a member of the Myrtle family.  The oil from the tree is used to make antiseptics, deodorants, shampoos and lotions. The tips reminded me of a sort of duster!
Shades of Red
I couldn’t find any sort of identification for this plant, but it reminds me of a coleus plant – except I’ve never seen those with red leaves!  I love the detail on these leaves, and the variety of red coloring.  I just had to get up close to fill the frame with these beautiful leaves.

Shades of Green at San Diego Botanic Garden
Since we were at a botanic garden, you’d expect to see a lot of green, and this garden didn’t disappoint!  Some of these plants were brand new to me and not anything I’ve seen before……
Palm Variety
This was a familiar plant to me and probably almost all of you – a lovely palm plant – not tree, tho.  It was obviously happy growing here – this plant was huge!  One of the things I loved was the near perfection of each of the leaves.
Red and Green
I always love it when I see red and green together in nature.  This coloring was a bit subtle – you have to look rather close to see the red on the edges of the leaves of this plant.  For whatever reason, I thought this plant looked happy – and I love the alternating pattern the rows of leaves formed!
There was a small section of the garden where there was a small grove of bamboo growing.  I love walking among the bamboo.  Instead of hearing the wind rustling the leaves of the trees, I hear the very soft, subtle groan of the bamboo slightly bending with the breeze.  It’s an amazingly peaceful sound.
Light Shines Thru
The leaves of this variety of palm was more yellow than green.  However, what caught my eye was the way the sunlight shined thru those leaves.  They took on a bit of a translucent quality, which sort of surprised me, because I thought the leaves were too thick to have this happen.  How lucky I was to get to see this!
Falling Stars
This was one of the plants that I’ve never seen before – I don’t know what the name of this plant is, but it reminded me of falling stars.  You can see the leaves below the star blooms, and then the string of what looks little pearls until you see the star bloom at the very tip.  Perhaps each one of those “pearls” is a bud that had yet to bloom.  I don’t know, but I do really like this plant.
I love this image.  It’s so rich with the color green!  And I love the off-center point of interest.  I would like to claim credit as it’s my artistic eye, but the plant just sort of presented itself to me this way!
Standing Tall
My friend and I stopped for a bit by a pond in the botanic garden, and we both noticed this very different type of plant.  I loved the sort of frilly top – it looks sort of wispy!  You can see a waterfall in the background. (More about the waterfall in another post.)
Intimate Portrait
Closer to where we were sitting was this lovely little portrait of nature – an intimate portrait.  I love the soft green that acted as a background for the delicate white blooms.