Flowers emerge, snow falls…

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…flowers emerge,

and we may not be done with the snow! I understand that Meteorological Spring* began a few days ago, but judging by the looks of things where I live, we’re still betwixt and between, alternately charmed by early flowers and frustrated by cold, wet days.

A few weeks ago fragrant Witch-hazel bloomed at the botanical garden, then just Monday morning a generous helping of wet snow graced the woodlands. The bright, lime-green Osoberry buds that are tiny beacons in late winter woodlands here sported snow caps for a few hours on Monday – but no worries, they survived. March may swing our hopes abruptly back and forth but we know that underneath the daily changes, light is moving back in. And we are grateful.

*Meteorological Spring, a date meteorologists and climatologists use for easier record keeping, begins March 1st.

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It’s an unsteady time of year. It seems there are more dark and dreary days than promising ones, but there is still much to see, much to gape and wonder at.

  1.  Witch hazel (Hamamelis X intermedia ‘Jelena’) at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, shot at f 3.5 with a 60mm prime macro lens.
  2.  A snow-bedecked Douglas fir and Big-leaf Maples behind my home, shot at f 8 with a 20mm prime lens.
  3.  Witch-hazel again; this one still gripping last year’s thickly-veined leaves. Shot at f 6.3 with a 60mm prime macro lens.
  4.  More Douglas firs, shot at f 8 with a 20mm prime lens.
  5.  The ground beneath the fir trees. The Doug firs are like fussy ladies during storms, flicking their wrists and tossing branchlets down to the earth, far below.
  6. Witch hazel (Hamamelis X intermedia ‘Pallida‘) with a well thought out backdrop of Bloodtwig Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’) at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, shot at f 10 with a 60mm prime macro lens.
  7.  New leaf spears of the native understory shrub, Osoberry (Oemleria cerasiformis) shot at f 2.8 with a 20mm prime lens.  Osoberry, aka Indian plum, grows along the Pacific coast (and inland to the mountains) from British Columbia to California. The unsweet but edible fruit was mixed with other fruit and eaten by indigenous people; bees rely on the very early flowers.
  8.  These trees are covered with invasive ivy, a common sight in suburban woodlands in the Seattle area. It does make a handsome image! Shot at f 8 with a 20mm prime lens.
  9.  Another Witch hazel, Hamamelis japonica, at the Bellevue Botanical Garden, shot at f 7.1 with a 60mm  prime macro lens.

America has four native Witch-hazels but the winter-blooming species are native to China and Japan. The hybrids above (Hamamelis x intermedia) derive from Asian species. They’re a pleasure to see each year when little else is blooming, and when the fragrance is full they can draw you in like a magnet.

I find that photographing heavily fragrant plants often intoxicates me into forgetting to pay attention to what I’m doing. In the midst of the overwhelming sensory experience, as I click the shutter over and over, I think I am capturing the whole of it. The same thing happens at waterfalls, with their powerful noise and negative ions. When I get home the images disappoint, because they don’t – they can’t possibly –  approach that feeling of being carried away.

It’s more to be grateful for though, and gives me another challenge: remember to come back down to earth a few times in the midst of those experiences. Pay attention to the camera a little bit, too.

 

 

 


54 comments

  1. There’s something very striking, to me, about the snow on conifers…maybe it’s a trigger for memories, don’t know, but I rather admire the scenes.

    Sweet photos, Lynn…and I understand how we can be so wrought-up in experiencing the environment that we don’t pay close enough attention to what we’re doing with the camera…or maybe it’s that the camera just couldn’t capture what registered in our mind’s eye when we were so Present and Connected when we were out there…experiencing All of it with All of our senses…..I know it’s hard to bring That home in the camera…..

    • Yes, cameras only pick up a piece of the whole, and the more your other senses are activated, the less the camera can match your memory of the experience. And then, it’s not necessarily about recording an experience, or if it is, you can go another route and do more impressionistic or abstract work to convey the feelings. But beyond that, like you said, there is a presence we feel and become one with; thinking we could convey that is maybe a fool’s errand!
      I’m glad you liked the snow photos – it’s always fleeting here, unless you go up into the mountains, and these days that’s not practical. I’m glad I got out Monday morning. If I was working it would not have happened.

  2. As always with you, a feast of imagery. But without a doubt, the three which really knock me flat are the Witch Hazels – especially, of course, the one you’ve put at the top of the post, but all three images are both striking and enthralling. And following our conversation today about camera clubs on my blurred water/clouds post, there’s another comment there, from Alan Frost, that you may find relevant. A 🙂

  3. Well they do say that variety is the spice of life, right?! The photos are wonderful but I’m especially drawn to the green sprig come up through the icy snow. Powerful in its simplicity. Your photos may disappoint you, but they certainly do not disappoint your readers, present company included Lynn!

    • Those little green buds are moving fast – leafing out, with flowers to follow soon. Our Spring is a long, drawn-out affair though, so that doesn’t mean everything is bursting at the seams – not for a while yet! Thanks very much for the compliment, Tina. With the disappointment, more effort follows, a good thing.

  4. I never paid much (if any) attention to witch hazel and lately it seems to have developed into a sort of theme. First mention was a month ago, then I did some searching and now your post! It’s amazing the things I miss on my own and then the blogging community provides! I find that I can’t often catch that fleeting moment when enthralled with momma nature, but the photos do help in triggering the memory. Love your take on things, as usual.

      • I have such great plans for plants, but you’re right… much will need to wait until we’re settled. HOPING to list this week, but there’s lots of other stuff getting in the way.

    • Really! 🙂 That’s what we need, and the sound track, and the feeling of fresh air on your face….but maybe not so much on your fingers, where it can slow down the camera process considerably, at least these days!

  5. Really like your response to seekraz about feeling/seeing/conveying experience with a camera. . . . Your first witch hazel is splendid, especially with the depth of field you chose. And oh, those colors. . . . Snow on green needles is enchanting in your hands. . . . Another lovely collection.

  6. A superb group of images conveying your deep love of your subject and sharing that feeling with us, the viewers.
    The weather is changeable here too, but I don’t think we’ve had any snow at all in this part of the UK. Storm Doris created havoc ten days ago. I look forward to changing the clocks at the end of the month.

    • Yes, we’ll change ours too, and it will be nice to have more light at the end of the day. Interestingly enough, it isn’t done in some states, like Arizona, where we were when everything “went south.” It would have been even more difficult to navigate all the communications between the different time zones where friends and family reside if they were on Daylight Savings Time but we weren’t. So that’s thanks for small favors – we got home before more chaos ensued! 🙂 And thanks for your generous comment, Louis, I appreciate it.

  7. I was both taken with and confused by the Cornus sanguinea behind the witch hazel. At first glance, I thought it was dodder, which is beginning to drape the landscape here. Even after looking at other photos that focus on that lovely “background” plant, I can’t keep the dodder out of my mind. It’s interesting how images can stick: like songs that play in our minds all the day long.

    I went off and read about prime lenses, too. I’ll not be buying one, but I understand more about them now, and appreciate what you’re able to do with them. And the very faint tinge of blue in your woodlands-in-snow photos is appealing. It suggests the shadows of clouds moving across the landscape.

    • Wow, dodder, that’s funny, I know it well! I don’t think I’ve seen it much here, but right this minute I can’t remember. Interesting connection and I can see the resemblance. I do love the prime lenses, maybe you’ll find a used one some day at a price you can’t refuse… It’s disorienting at first but you quickly get used to not being able to zoom. The downside is seeing something you want to photograph with a different lens and needing to switch them out more often than you’d like…they get a bit dirty…
      Always nice to hear from you!

  8. So beautiful, all of your photos! Most of all, I love the one of the graceful Osoberry bud.
    Working with a prime lens really is very different to zooming. You have to move back or forth so much more. When I go out with my 50 mm lens, I step into places where I shouldn’t all the time, gardens, ponds, ditches and so on…

    • 🙂 – that’s funny! Yes, it’s an adjustment, but the prime lenses I have are sharper and allow more light in, so I really like them. It’s a pain to have to switch lenses in the field though! Thanks for commenting and have a great weekend –

  9. I love that feeling of being carried away, and it’s one of the best things about nature photography, in my opinion. It often amazes me how much time has passed when I come back in from, say, taking photos of a couple columbine plants in the yard by the river. I’m also amazed how many shots I come in with. But I usually know which ones are gold before I pull the chip. I see them, even in the ecstatic moment. Only once in a while am I disappointed by missing what I thought I had.
    Beautiful post…thanks for sharing!

  10. The witch hazel was the only sign of spring here and now it’s buried in snow, thanks to Snowstorm Stella! Beautiful images, as always. I find I get so much more exercise when shooting with a prime lens. 😊

    • I have to admit, I really don’t get much exercise when shooting – the walking is so slow, the ground covered so short – but what can you do? I may take a few more steps forward or backwards, I think that’s it! 😉 May all your snow melt quickly and obediently, funneling down to a lovely, clean, tame stream that leads to a beautiful river and out to the vast ocean… so Susan can have her Spring! 🙂 🙂

    • 😉 I hope you’re going to get better weather this week and maybe find some oddball manifestations of New Yorkers’ reactions to it. I miss seeing your posts on WP but I get it – as long as we stay in touch!!

  11. What lovely photographs these are.
    Although the calendar says that spring begins tomorrow, we are “buried” in snow and probably far from any spring-like things.

  12. ! I do love the prime lenses, maybe you’ll find a used one some day at a price you can’t refuse… It’s disorienting at first but you quickly get used to not being able to zoom.


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