Slipper Orchid

The orchid center at the Atlanta Botanical Garden is full of many different types of orchids and other exotic plants.  These slipper orchids really look as if some tiny person could slip them on their feet and walk off into the forest in high style.

I love seeing the fantastic variety of shapes and colors that the orchid family is made up of.  All the beautiful plants at the gardens are a pleasure to experience.  It is a true joy to spend time here and marvel at the wonders of nature and be glad to have the chance to share in this amazing planet we live on.

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
100mm @ f/11 – 1/100 sec – ISO 400

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Just add water

It is amazing how a little water can make things more interesting.  These day lilies are beautiful all on their own but adding water drops make the image quite different.  Those little spots of water shining in the sun and dripping off the edges adds another layer of things to look at.

Some photographers carry spray bottles or splash pond water onto subjects they are shooting.  I guess that is fine but I prefer to see this when it occurs naturally.  Catching the early morning dew or times just after a rain are wonderful.  These times also seem to have more interesting light in general so it is a great opportunity to get special images.

There’s no substitute for great light and an interesting subject.  With a little luck, you might get some water elements included.  This is the best!

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Gainesville, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
270mm @ f/16 – 1/40 sec – ISO 400

Tending the flowers

I love to see the beauty of flowers on a Summer’s day but when you add butterflies to the mix, it is hard to get anything better.  It is so interesting to watch them poking through the flowers in search of nectar and then leaving with a coating of pollen to carry on to the next flower.  Nature has such an amazing way of joining things together.  The flower provides for the insects and the insects make it possible for the flowers to reproduce.

The circle of life is pretty cool!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
(Papilio glaucus)

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
100mm @ f/11 – 1/250 sec – ISO 100

The Curious Garden

The current special exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Garden is called The Curious Garden.  It is  a mix of plants and man-made objects intended to pique our curiosity and make us think about things in a different way.

The Curious Garden features 11 site-specific installations created to highlight the Garden’s plant collections and plant conservation work by prompting visitors to make discoveries, ask questions and engage in conversations. Bold, often unexpected, man-made and altered natural materials are employed to direct the eye to focus on the simple beauty of nature.

My image above is part of the installation inside the Orchid Center conservatory.  This display features multiple chandeliers and crystal beads with orchids and other plants entwined among the hanging lights.  It is a wonderful combination of shape, color and light.  We found ourselves walking in circles while looking up through the leaves, flowers and shiny sparkly glass.  Quite a sight to see!

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
38mm @ f/16 – 1/10 sec – ISO 400

Jungle Orchid

There are so many beautiful orchids at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.  This one caught my eye mainly because of the leaves.  The apricot-colored flower is magnificent but the patterns in the leaves just made me think of some deep-dark jungle.  Sometimes, the background is just as important as the subject.

In his Macro Bootcamp workshop, Mike Moats tells students that his most successful images come from a combination of a subject and a background that work well together.  I’m not sure if I lived up to his level on this one but I do believe that the combination of the two is more than either one by themselves.

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
100mm @ f/11 – 1/16 sec – ISO 400

Tattered tails

Butterflies are such amazing creatures to observe.  The way the flit about through a garden and search through the flowers for their favorite nectar it a great joy to watch.  At the same time, when you look closely you will see that most butterfly wings show signs of wear.  It is somewhat unusual to see the wings unscathed by everyday life.  I don’t know if it is birds getting to them or if the delicate wings just get damaged in their constant landing and taking off but most often, I see holes and tears and missing pieces.

You can see on this yellow swallowtail that only one side has the iconic tail at the end of the wing.  She lost that other one somewhere but that does not really diminish the overall beauty.  Thinking about this reminds me how often we judge things based on our idea of perfection.  When something fails to meet that standard, we feel like it has less value and we tend to dismiss it.

This happens even in the case of how we treat other people. This behavior of holding things up to a standard of perfection often causes us to miss out on what is wonderful in spite of small flaws.  Nothing is really perfect.  We should be looking for what is good and building it up instead of tearing down what is imperfect.  Again, my photography teaches me life lessons.  What a great way to spend time learning more and looking for beauty.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
(Papilio glaucus)

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
300mm @ f/11 – 1/100 sec – ISO 200

Hidden in Plain Sight

This spring, when the Roswell Azalea Festival came around, I was amazed to find that I had very few photographs of azaleas in my portfolio.  I mean, azaleas are everywhere around us.  How could I not have any pictures of them?  Well, maybe that’s the answer.  When things are always right in front of you, they tend to be taken for granted.  We miss out on the true beauty that surrounds us just because we’ve seen it before.

This time, I didn’t miss out!  It could be that when you are “tuned in” and paying attention, you see things that you commonly miss.  Since we had made a special trip to the botanical gardens, my eyes were open to the plants and flowers as we walked by.  Even in this place that is so packed with beautiful plants, you have to be observant or you miss out on the most special details.

This Native Azalea was blooming along one of the walkways.  I like the native varieties because of the neat shapes and the long stamen that shoot out of them like whiskers or eyelashes.  Now that I am paying attention, I expect I will see azaleas everywhere and will probably have too many to choose from next year.  That’s not such a bad problem!

Atlanta Botanical Garden
Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
86mm @ f/13 – 1/13 sec – ISO 200