FORAYS

Spring unfolds slowly in the Pacific Northwest. I’m as impatient for it as the next person, but I want to savor every bit of this season, so the measured advance suits me. This week cherry trees paint a delicate pink froth along the roadsides, the first Salmonberry flowers punctuate the woods, and birds riff and prance like it’s never been done before.

Skies are often wet and gray but between showers I make quick local forays: a few hours at the Arboretum in Seattle, a run to photograph the cherry trees that edge a parking lot near home, a late afternoon wander down an unused railroad track.

The resulting images are all over the map, metaphorically if not literally.

Here you go:

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This unusual mix of images reflects what I’m seeing these days. Here are the details:

  1. Parking lot Cherry tree blossoms. Shot with an Olympus M. Zuiko 60mm macro lens at f 4.5, processed in Color Efex Pro (CEP) and Lightroom (LR).
  2. At the Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle, a bamboo fence protects the Camellia tree in #4 and #10. I used the macro lens again at f 6.3 and processed the image in LR with a preset and tweaking. I could probably get a nice result in Silver Efex, too, but I thought I’d try the LR presets.
  3. Parking lot cherry trees, towards sunset. Taken with a vintage lens (using an adapter). The Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 50mm 1.4 is a well-built but heavy prime lens; mine was made between 1966 and 1971. It’s supposedly slightly radioactive due to a  coating on one or more of the elements. It produces lovely color and bokeh but it’s very difficult to focus. Of course, there’s no automatic focusing – we’re talking old school here. You’ve got to be able to squint and look hard to see if you’re in focus. I mostly miss, but it’s fun to take the lens out and see what happens. I need to do that more! Processed in LR & CEP.
  4. The Camellia trees are dropping their blossoms at Washington Park Arboretum. Taken with the 60mm macro lens. Processed in CEP a bit, then LR where I reduced the saturation of the greens, which can be overpowering this time of year, and added vignetting.
  5. Interesting things happen on the ground in gardens, especially when blossoms fall. I think this is a rhododendron flower. Olympus 14 – 150mm zoom lens, f 8, 67mm. Only a tiny bit of processing was done in LR. It’s satisfying when you don’t need to do anything to your photo but I really enjoy processing.  I don’t make perfection out of the camera a goal – if you do, I admire you!
  6. This old wagon falls apart more each year, too bad. It sits by the side of the road near a small town called Duvall. Duvall sits in an agricultural valley about 45 minutes east of Seattle. When I first photographed the wagon five years ago, it stood on all four wheels. Tempus fugit!  Shot with a Panasonic Lumix 14mm f2.5 prime lens at f 4.5. I could have used a smaller aperture for more detail but it was very cloudy. I needed extra light and wanted the background to blur out a bit. Processed in Silver Efex Pro.
  7. On the same day, I visited this old structure on Cherry Valley Road in Duvall. I love this building for the simple, almost Shaker-like lines and the soft patina of its peeling paint. There are “No Trespassing” signs around but the building is unused. Shot with an Olympus M. Zuiko 45mm, f 1.8 prime lens, at f 9. This is a new lens for me and it’s going to take a while before I’m comfortable with it but I’m sure it’s going to be very useful. Processed in CEP, where I applied a blur vignette. I also increased the luminosity of the yellows in LR, just a little.I find the luminosity sliders for individual colors to be invaluable.
  8. A window on the side of building, same lens, f 6.3, processed in LR.
  9. Forsythia at the Arboretum with an orange haze of Red twig dogwood behind it. This is in the Winter Garden, which is nicely planted with contrasting colors, textures (in peeling bark, for example) and patterns. Shot with a 14 – 150mm Olympus M. Zuiko zoom lens at f 5.5. Processed mostly in LR, where I softened it a little more by slightly decreasing the contrast and reducing clarity towards the edges.
  10. A pretty Camellia at the Arboretum. They have a collection of Camellias and this is my favorite, for the color, grace of form, and the way the flower is set off by the glossy, dark leaves. Shot with the 60mm macro (which works well for plenty besides macro) at f 6.3. Very little processing.
  11. Every year, insects feast on the Arboretum’s Magnolia tree leaves. I think it mostly happens after the leaves fall to the ground. What’s left after the bugs depart are thousands of intact leaves with no “flesh” and just a fine tracery of veins. Here a tree flower is seen behind a skeletonized Magnolia leaf. I held the leaf in front of the lens (14 – 150mm zoom lens at f 5.5) and focused on the leaf veins rather than the flower behind. I may go back and experiment more with this.
  12. The same leaves are seen here layered on the ground with other leaves, making an endless array of patterns. Shot with the 60mm macro lens at f 5, processed in CEP and LR.
  13. A similar shot to the one above, this one was taken with my phone, an older Samsung, and cropped and processed in LR.
  14. More parking lot cherry blossoms at sunset. 60mm macro lens at f 5, lightly processed in LR.
  15. The diminutive Cyclamen coum, native to Bulgaria and Turkey but happy across the globe, at the arboretum. Thanks to the camera’s flip screen, I didn’t have to lie on the ground to get this – just placed the camera there! 60mm macro lens at f 6.3, processed in LR with a bit more softening, and blur added to the edges done in CEP.

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BTW – An inspirational TEDx talk can be found here, where Danielle Hark talks about the Broken Light Collective, an inspiring photography collective where people with mental illness show their work and often discuss how photography helps them cope with the everyday challenges of living with mental illness. Broken Light is also a WordPress blog.

 

A selection of my photographs is available for purchase at lynn-wohlers.pixels.com.

 


52 comments

    • I hope they come soon, Linda – maybe you need to plant a cherry tree or two. But I’m glad you’re enjoying the wait – sounds very enlightened! Let me know if yo’re going to be in Seattle & we’ll get together OK?

    • Thank you, Lisa, I appreciate it – it’s always good to know which photos people are drawn to. I hope you won’t find it less interesting when I tell you that I did place that blossom on the branch. Still, there were many on the ground just below so I assume a few fell on the branch and drifted off. It was a gentle intervention.

  1. The Pacific Northwest spring is lovely, but I guess it doesn’t matter where you are, spring is always welcomed with open arms. Your photographs are fabulous, and I’m always a sucker for a cherry blossom…always a favorite. Enjoy!!
    elisa

    • Thanks Elisa, they’re irresistible, even though it’s been done so many times. Opportunities to photograph them don’t present themselves very often, either. Once a year for a few weeks, and it’s over…

  2. I especially love those pictures where you combine autumn and spring elements like the one with the leave’s skeleton overlaying the blossoms. Beautiful and full of philosophical content.

    • Mmm, I like that idea of philosophical content! It’s true, it immediately makes you think about the transience of all things, and the beauty of all the metamorphoses that nature goes through.

  3. Beautiful stuff, my friend, you have a real eye. And I do like to read all the background and processing details too – unhappily, I don’t find myself using CEP so much these days – which may be my laziness or the advent of LR or both – I must make an effort! Which pics do I really like here? Well, the top 6 for a start! And the last 5. There’s no reason why it should, but I don’t think pic 7 really belongs in this array – hope you don’t mind my saying that. Hope your new life is going well. A 🙂

    • I totally don’t mind your critical or analytical comments – bring ’em on! I hesitated about adding the photos with the building and wagon as subject but decided I would just put it all in one post. Is there a reason you feel that particular one doesn’t belong but the images of the wagon and window do? I’m curious. I like switching back and forth between CEP, SEP and LR – they each have their strong points. The new life takes some getting used to! Thanks for your empathy – I’m managing, but it’s surprising how little gets done, when you think that because you’re not working, now you can do all those things you wanted to do but had no time for. Bit by bit….

      • Don’t be surprised at how little gets done, I’ve found just the same thing – now there is still stress, I know, but there’s not the stress of getting to work, always doing doing doing – you have, partly, got your life back. I thought the wagon shot and the window do fit in as they’re arty and inspired – let me be honest, I just didn’t think the shot of the whole building was up to as high a standard as all the other shots. And to me it was just looking at the whole of something, whereas many of the other shots looked at parts of things – ok, the wagon was a total shot, but the way in which you photographed it was very creative. Wouldn’t it be good to live near each other, so we could sit and discuss such thing?! A 🙂

  4. I thoroughly enjoy the diversity of of your selections – not least by the range of textures you observe. I’m also interested to notice the similarities between your weather patterns and those we are experiencing here

    • I’m reading a book by VS Naipaul about his impressions and reactions when he first came to England (The Enigma of Arrival), and I get the same feeling – it’s probably also true that most of what grows for you would grow here, and vice versa. Yes, textures – we like them! 😉

  5. There are so many images, it’s hard to select a favorite. Or two. Or three!

    I really like the effect of approaching the house along the highway.. the background is a soft fuzzy effect as if you’re seeing this in a dream… and then, thanks to your expanations, one gets a better view of one of those windows!

    The flowers through the skeleton leaves are unique and very comforting!

    • Your reactions are welcome, and interesting – thanks for commenting. I know you’re busy! I think that building was used agriculturally, maybe for chickens or livestock. There are huge fields across the road…now flooded but full of wildfowl in the winter. I do feel that way about the building as a dream – the town is rapidly growing the roots are disappearing, as much as people try to preserve ways that are closer to the land. Progress.

      • wow! that building looks so interesting… what is it about older buildings that have such a soul? or maybe some of us sense that where others don’t? you have the power to capture it with your camera – that is an art…

  6. Lovely, delicious and simply gorgeous. I run out of superlatives. Then again I so very much appreciated your thought: “I don’t make perfection out of the camera a goal – if you do, I admire you!” It’s so hard not to give into the pressure for perfection that I can’t hope to achieve at this late stage in my days. Seems that my tired brain always puts up a fight when it has to deal with numbers anymore. O_o

    • As I’m sure you know on your best days, perfection is present all the time, and isn’t anywhere outside of you. But like you say, it’s hard not to give in to our mind’s constant creation of problems! Hopefully we have moments in nature, behind the camera and not, when the mind quiets. I hope I don’t sound preachy, I don’t mean to be.

  7. BTW, I find the skeleton leaves particularly intriguing. You have this knack for snatching some terrific detail (not to overlook the rest of your talents).

    • Some familiar and some not sounds like a good balance. I hope you get out this weekend, Scott! I’ve been seeing the cactus leagues in AZ on nightly news and it looks intensely sunny already. I feel like I was there at the right time, weather-wise, for what I was dealing with – I didn’t have to wrestle with the weather and that was a measure of benevolence, like you and several other people were, amidst all the upset.

    • Those leaves are really cool. I saw them at another garden this week so it must be a common phenomenon, at least around here. I don’t remember seeing that happen to magnolias on the east coast. Thanks for stopping by John.

  8. I’m so taken with the skeletonized leaves. I had wondered how you’d managed a couple of those photos, as i’ve never seen such leaves still on the tree. Closer reading suggested they weren’t on the trees at all. I was surprised that you would pick one up and shoot through it. It’s creative, and the result is superb — but it doesn’t feel like something I’d be comfortable doing. Likewise, putting the blossom on the limb. Clearly, there’s more to decide than shutter speed and aperture. How we go about photographing — how much we’re willing to manipulate the world as well as our images — is worth some thought.

    My favorite subset is the wagon, the broken window, and the skeletonized leaves. They seem to belong together, as evidence ot the inevitable decline of all things.

    • You must have magnolias – I guess it must be due to a beetle we have here that isn’t everywhere else, because I didn’t see it on the east coast either – right, those leaves all had fallen. Yes, manipulation is a question everyone has to find their own answer to. I do move sticks out of the way, more and more. I believe in the pure imperfection of what hasn’t been manipulated, as well. A conundrum. But contradictions are fine. The wagon, the broken window and the skeletonized leaves do tell a particular story (no surprise that you, a born story-teller, are the one to point it out). I was just to damn impatient to divide these images up into separate posts but I may do that more in the future.
      Thanks for your thoughts, as always! Hope you have a good weekend.

      • I’ve done my own share of stick-moving. And, in my recent lighthouse shot, there was cropping at the bottom to remove some roof lines. I’ve been trying to figure out if I have some internal “guideline” I follow, and the best I can come up with is this: if the photo’s meant to be a “nature photo,” a representation of the real world as it is, no stick moving or leaf-lifting. If a more artistic impression of the natural world’s the point, then move and lift away. At least, that’s my thinking now. Check with me in the morning!

      • What mixes it up is that in art and photography, as in music, there are crossovers – images that aren’t exactly representational but aren’t purely abstraction, that maybe don’t take a lot of liberties but do take some. And I think it’s good to muse on that but not to the point that you’d start making rules for yourself (which I’m sure you wouldn’t be inclined to do unless it was for the purpose of breaking them). 😉

  9. Beautiful photos, Lynn. I especially love the macros.
    This is such a lovely time of the year. Last week I got back from the Rhine Valley – the cherry blossom and the magnolias there looked heavenly. In North Norfolk, UK we are having spring mixed the occasional day of summer (above 20°) and cold nights like winter. Sunny greetings to you from
    The Fab Four of Cley 🙂

    • That old cart really is disintegrating, sadly. We are so very wet around here that unfinished wood doesn’t have a fighting chance, at least not after decades outdoors! Thanks for asking about life – it’s getting easier. And you? I’m wondering.

      • I’m glad to hear things are getting easier Lynn. I’m doing OK thank you. The break in the Canary Islands, a bit of sunshine instead of a very dull wet February in the UK, did me the world of good. 🙂

  10. Parking Lot Cherry Trees Near Sunset has really interesting light and/or processing; I like it a lot. So glad you didn’t let A Window on the Side of Building go B&W. The touch of mustard color is interesting, especially as it spreads itself from the siding to the window shards. I also like the window shards and the grid in back (front?) of them. I’m also fond of number 12, mostly for its composition and colors.

    • Yes, the mustard color is what I so love about the building, along with the “vernacular architecture.” I didn’t like that grid behind the broken window so glad you do, makes me see it differently.
      #12 composed itself, and it was the LENS – and processing – on the third photo that made it interesting – i darkened it a bit, esp. around the edges. I used my vintage lens, which often adds a certain atmosphere (talked about it in the last post). I found out they’re Purpleleaf plum trees, not cherries! oops.
      Thanks Linda!

  11. oh how beautiful! I actually love the light on a cloudy day, so nice and soft. The old leaf image with all it’s lace-like detail is incredible!!

    • We get plenty of cloudy days around here! It took a lot of getting used to after the east coast, but I’ve come to appreciate it much more than I did at first, and of course now I find it hard to photograph when the sun’s out! . Thanks Susan, happy weekend!


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