Trying to open the pitcher?

In front of the Visitor’s Center at the State Botanical Garden is a water garden full of lilies and pitcher plants.  On a hot July day, the water and plants attract quite a few dragonflies that are not all that concerned with people passing by.  This particular one had laid claim to a bright red pitcher plant and stayed there for quite a while so I could get his portrait.

I had put my long lens on the camera with hopes of seeing hummingbirds but it turns out that this is a pretty good tool for close-up shots as well.  The only problem was that I kept getting closer than the minimum focus distance and had to back up a number of times.

I thought this came out really well since I was hand-holding the big lens and got some fantastic sharpness on the little details like the hairs on the dragonfly’s legs.  I kind of wish I had set my aperture a bit smaller to get the whole of the wing-span in focus but I wanted to blur out the background for a smooth look.  The green background was provided by a lily pad in the pond behind the pitcher plant.

State Botanical Garden of Georgia
2450 S Milledge Avenue
Athens, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/6.3 – 1/640 sec – ISO 400

Mississippi Kite

I experienced a new bird breed yesterday when visiting the State Botanical Garden in Athens, Georgia.  Joyce saw this elegant bird flying by first and we spotted where he landed, high on a bare branch.  It was very had to figure out what it was for a number of reasons.  First, I had never seen one of these before and second, it was approaching high-noon so, it was hard to pick out details of a white brested bird against the clouds and brilliant sun.

Joyce thought it may be an eagle and I thought it was a hawk of some sort until I saw it through my lens.  When I got a better look, I thought it might be an Osprey but, they don’t have the white head like this.  I have to credit David Akoubian for identifying this bird for me.  Being the great “bird nerd” that he is, he came back quickly with an ID on it.

I was lucky that I brought my long Tamron lens on this trip.  We heard that there were lots of hummingbirds at the gardens so, I hauled the big gun along.  Never expected to see this kind of sight but I’m glad that we did!

Mississippi Kite
(Ictinia mississippiensis)

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/11 – 1/1000 sec – ISO 250

Chasing butterflies

Along with beautifully landscaped gardens, visitors are treated to a variety of sculpture when strolling through Gibbs Gardens.  In the area leading up to the Japanese Garden, there are a group of bronze children.  I think these are representations of the founder – Jim Gibbs’ grandchildren but I’m not absolutely sure of that.

I grabbed an image of this little girl in bronze chasing butterflies.  It seemed to be capturing a past memory or a dream so, I added a bit of hazy vignette to give it that effect.

Gibbs Gardens
Ballground, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
300mm @ f/18 – 1/60 sec – ISO 100

Oooh, Sparkly!

Every trip to Gibbs Gardens proves to me that I am no horticulturist.  I can identify some plants by sight and there are markers on others to tell me what they are but there are many others that I just don’t know.  In this case, the plant in the background is Lamb’s Ear and they were sparkling with rain/dew drops giving me a great contrast to the little yellow flowers above them.  The cool texture on the flower’s leaves and the water drops on its petals make that interesting as well.

I’m not sure if I actually captured all of the layers of light, pattern and color that there was in the natural scene but I thought this was pretty cool.

Gibbs Gardens
Ballground, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
300mm @ f/18 – 1/60 sec – ISO 100

Little bits of sunshine

In front of the Manor House at Gibbs Gardens, there are always colorful bunches of flowers along the walkways that lead up to the house and give visitors a great view of the mountains not far away.  It is easy to find many subjects to admire when walking along these paths.  I find the colors and textures here so attractive that I have a hard time deciding which to look at first.

The bright yellow of these flowers made them so attractive that I just couldn’t ignore them.  I also love the tiny hairs along the stems that show up with the back lighting and dark background.  Wish my own backyard looked this good!

Gibbs Gardens
Ballground, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
135mm @ f/11 – 1/40 sec – ISO 400

The art of Nature

There is no end to the amazing beauty of nature.  Looking at landscapes or flowers or animals is a constant source of fascination for me.  It is incredible to think that all of this surrounds us every day and yet, we mostly ignore it.  Sometimes, you just have to stop and enjoy the simple joy that is available in appreciating how glorious our world is!

Photography is my excuse to pay more attention and find things that are beautiful and/or interesting to the eye.  I find that the more I try to do this, the easier it is to spot the things that make a good image.  It doesn’t mean that there is no work involved.  I still need to seek these things out.  I must go out earlier or later than I usually would, visit places I’ve never been or just take a closer look at what’s right in front of me.  This takes patience and practice but the rewards are great.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Butterfly Encounter
Chattahoochee Nature Center
Roswell, Georgia

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
270mm @ f/9 – 1/60 sec – ISO 100

Fungi and lichen

It may not have been in the original garden plan but, mushrooms and moss make interesting subjects just as much as the flowers and trees do.  There are many spots in the shade or a sunny patch where these odd little plants grow.  I love the shapes that you see.  Little fingers and fans that appear in all kinds of different places.

I know, lots of people just knock them over and kick them away when they spot mushrooms but I think it’s great to take a closer look and appreciate the shapes and forms that they take on.

Gibbs Gardens
Ballground, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
300mm @ f/18 – 1/13 sec – ISO 100