Looking In/Seeing Through

Never one to be satisfied with received wisdom or the approved viewpoint, I have found my own ways to look at the world. As a plant lover, I like to wander through conservatories and photograph exotic flora, but you can also find me outside the building, looking in. From that viewpoint, everything is less defined. The smudging of edges, the obfuscation of boundaries and the hazy windows, invite a different kind of contemplation.Β  Something separates me from the plants, but this barrier (the glass) allows me to see them with fresh eyes. Perhaps it’s a more simplified view, since detail is lost. Also, the window frames lend a pleasing order to the view that’s lacking inside. Don’t get me wrong – I love the immersive experience of being inside a conservatory, but the view from outside is intriguing.

More images in this series can be found here, here and here.

1.

 

2.

 

3.

 

4.

 

5.

 

7

6.

 

7.

 

8.

 

9.

 

10.

 

11.

 

The photographs were taken recently at the Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle, using an Olympus OM D1 camera and two lenses: an Olympus 60mm f2.8 macro and an Olympus 45mm f1.8. The photos were processed in Lightroom. Here are a few notes on the processing:

#1 & #2 began with Lightroom split tone presets (found on the left side panel) and then were modified (tone curves, vignettes, etc.).

#3 began with a VSCO film preset, Agfa Portrait xps 160, from VSCO‘s Eclectic films #07, then it was modified.

#4 was processed in Lightroom.

#5 began with a VSCO film preset (Fuji Sensia 100 alt), then was modified.

#6 began with a Lightroom selenium toned preset, then was slightly modified.

#7, #8, #10, & #11 were processed in Lightroom only.

#9 began with the VSCO preset Fuji Sensia 100 warm, with further adjustments.

*

I look forward to reading your comments and thoughts.


77 comments

  1. I’m thinking these images, or some very much like them were what enticed me to follow and a very happy journey it’s been! I won’t pick a favorite this time because they all evoke such different moods.

    • Sometimes I wish my posts were more internally consistent, i.e. for this post, it might have been better to have fewer variations in processing, which strongly affects the mood of a photo. But the variety does reflect who I am and what I believe in: among other things, that life is change. Thanks for being here, Gunta!

  2. Great series. I love how the first couple of images look as though the plants are trying to escape the confines of the hot houses. Lovely images.

  3. Very impressive photos, dear Lynn. It’s always new though always you when you take photographic views of the world around you.
    In this case, I see the window frames and I know from your information you’re looking from the outside in, but the view seems to be from inside out because of the plants and water on window panes. Kind of contradictory and strange.
    Beautiful anyway …

    • Contradictory and strange is OK in my book. πŸ˜‰ The water tends to look like rain sometimes, so I see what you mean. Of course, it’s the water that is sprayed on the plants inside the conservatory. Sometimes chemicals are mixed in, making it less transparent. Then in summer they will coat the windows to provide more shade. So there are always new views, as you point out. I appreciate hearing form you, Ule!

  4. I make it short: I love it! These framed pictures remind me of oil paintings. It is funny and exciting, how frames, lines, zones increase the effect of a picture. The fragments, the plants are now divided in, make it more interesting. I don’t know why. Maybe my brain likes information in pieces πŸ˜‰ It definitly likes structures (besides organic forms). And the effect of a painting is great. I know these are fotos, but my brain tells me different. Fantastic!! 1, 2, 5 and 7 are my favourites!

    • I like that you see a painterly quality to the photos, Almuth. I’m sure our brains do respond favorably to that structure – after all, we’ve grown up with it, and it’s everywhere – in every home we lived in or book we read, there are rectangles. πŸ™‚ These ones can be very crooked becuase the building is old, but I tried to straighten them out a bit in Lightroom. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  5. Your choice of viewpoint is a significant feature of your work and invariably enhances your keen observation, especially so when you are photographing nature in all its forms. I love the idea of looking in from the outside. The moisture on the glass softens the focus and colour saturation and evokes a feeling of quietude.

  6. These looking-in views of the greenhouses are extraordinarily nice. I love the mysteriousness of them. The condensate (past and present) on the glass adds to the mystery, and the grids subtract. The three monochrome images are especially etherial. I like how you can’t tell what the red stuff (probably flowers) is in number 5. Favorites: 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, and 9. But I like all the rest, too! I’m glad this is an ongoing series. I’m looking forward to the next episode. Isn’t it interesting that the light spot in number 2 recedes rather than advances? It pulls your eye to the back of the arrangement, but stays back there. Maybe that’s my very favorite one. Maybe.

    • Interesting comments, thank you Linda….I was afraid #9 might be too dark, glad you like that one…and #6, the selenium I think goes nicely with the subject matter, but that one is a harder composition to get into (I struggled!). You’re right about #2 and I have no idea why it works that way, but in #7 for example, the lighter area doesn’t recede as much.
      The red flowers in #5 looked too Christmasy for my taste, with the intense green foliage, but the window and water help with that. The initial appeal to me was all about the windows making everything more ethereal, as you say, and mysterious. The room behind #5 has a seasonal display, which was a Christmas train (very cute but not really my thing). Now there are beautiful white tulips in there plus other flowers and foliage, but for me, way too much red. This conservatory often uses unsubtle color combinations for their temporary displays but I’m not complaining, I’m glad it’s there. Anyway, it was fun to play with the split tone and other filters this time. Thank you for being here!

  7. Hahaha!!! >>> ABSOLUTELY LOVE these pictures, almost all of them in fact – but my favourite is (presumably) your favourite, #1 – the toning is wonderful, and the central placing of the window frame (as in #5 and #9) adds to it considerably. Another highlight is #7 – ohhhh!!!!!!! Being outside looking in certainly does it, and I really love the unreality and abstraction here. A πŸ™‚

    • An echo of your Going to Work bus series, perhaps? πŸ˜‰ I’m glad you like #1, I haven’t used split toning much at all. When I learned about it, I began doing it myself in tiny amounts on landscapes – warming highlights and cooling shadows – to a nice effect. So many filters and techniques! #7 has a classic feeling, I think, less modern maybe. You should take a look at the VSCO filter sets, you might find some you really like. Not that you need any more choices! Thanks, and thanks for your Blurb comments.

  8. These are absolutely wonderful. So painterly! But what I also love is your phrase, ‘the obfuscation of boundaries’. I’ve been savouring the words as much as the images, (they go together so well) and the thoughts that the idea evokes…..

    • Oh good! Savoring the words, too! I made myself elaborate a little to explain what I’m doing. It’s a really good exercise and I don’t do it enough. If I can prompt someone to look at things differently, which means thinking about them differently, I’m very happy. (Bringing pleasure is good, too!) And I think that’s what you’re describing. Thank you.

  9. Pairing the split-tone effect with views through misted glass contributes to a sense of memory or something in the not-so-recent past. I think that extra layer of meaning is why I like #1 and #2 the best.

  10. You are in good company seeking these out as photographic subjects. I recall Sam Abell saying that some of his favourite photographic locations are the insides and outsides of greenhouses & conservatories.

    All well done, thank you.

    • I’ll add: if you are the sort of person that enters photo competitions, you could consider submitting a set of these images into the International Garden Photographer of the Year competition under the Portfolio category.

      • Daniel, thank you very much. I retired a year ago, and now have time to think about things like contests, but that world is new to me so I appreciate the tip. Sounds like a good one for me to look into. Thanks for being here, I appreciate it!

  11. I think I’m partial to #4, though the pops of white in #7 are lovely too. The world of post-processing is still mostly lost on me, but I’d love to spend more time on it someday and I really like that you share how you achieved these results, Lynn!

    • It does take some time to get your feet really wet, but I’m sure you’d figure it out quickly, and I bet you’d enjoy it. If you ever have any questions, feel free to ask…but I know you’re busy! πŸ˜‰ And thanks for the comment….

  12. What a fantastic idea and new way to look at things. I can’t stop looking at #10. It stands on it’s own for me and would be a wonderful shot with or without the idea of a series made of shooting through the window. Since I signed up for WordPress I have to sign in using their user name
    Howard

    • #10, that’s interesting. I have a series I bet you’d like, of flowers seen through tarps at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Some of them have a very similar quality. I’d do more, but they upgraded the market and replaced the tarps. Such is life. The WP business can be frustrating sometimes, but I’m very glad you’re here, Howard! Thanks for commenting.

  13. I love these shots – you peering in, the plants peering out.
    #6 “selenium toned” has a wonderful old-time feel (maybe like those platinum prints?) and reminded me of an article I read quite a while ago – – hundreds of the glass negatives left by a Civil War-era photographer, not Brady, maybe Alexander Gardner, ended up being re-purposed for a conservatory. That’s a tragedy for photographers and historians, of course, but I thought it would have been fascinating to see those fading images of war and destruction, used for a setting of plants, nature, growing things, and maybe akin to some of the scenes you’ve got here.
    #3 has a definite sci-fi movie feel! The plant-creature gesturing & beginning the process of communicating! πŸ™‚

    • The selenium effect often appeals to me, Robert – glad you liked it, too. What an amazing notion – so a conservatory actually used glass plate negatives for its glass windows…wow, the installations a good artist could do with that idea! Especially when, as you note, the negatives show faded war scenes. This really makes my mind zip around! #3 could be a creature in the black lagoon, too, right? πŸ˜‰ The imagination runs wild….

  14. All beautiful subjects and compositions! I still love the conservatory windows. You’re right they are intriguing … there’s something about looking at them from the outside that makes the images seem more intimate.

  15. wow…love love…these are strong compositions and create such a beautiful feeling…I feel humidity which I’m yearning….maybe I need to go to our conservatory…which is not quite the same but there is a room of tropical plants and it’s humid πŸ˜€ have a lovely week Lynn!

  16. The most interesting tidbit of information here is that they sometimes coat the windows in summer to help protect the plants. I’d never thought of that, but of course it makes sense. It could also help to explain why there are so few conservatories in coastal Texas.

    I had such an odd reaction to these photo. Every time I looked at them, I felt a little uncomfortable, a little anxious. I couldn’t figure that one out at all — until today, when it finally came to me. A few of these remind me of what the world looked like to me before I got my cataracts removed and new lenses implanted! That foggy, misty, soft-edged world is great when it’s used to effect, as it is here. When it’s a result of the aging process and everything looks like these photos, it’s not so good.

    Now that I have that figured out, I can appreciate the photos as they should be appreciated, and not feel one bit uncomfortable!

    • I laughed about the idea of having few conservatories in coastal Texas…anyway, there is an abundance of plant life outdoors, right? In many photos of conservatories, you’ll see whitewash on the windows – it’s shade for the plants, usually done in summer.
      What an interesting insight you had. It reminds me of getting glasses for nearsightedness when I was around 7 or 8 – wow, I was so excited to see how beautiful the world was! But I like the hazy view, too. If you snorkel, the underwater colors are all softer by far, then you come up and Bam! the world is sharp and crisp and clear, maybe too much so! So many ways to see the world, right? (Yes, more than 13…) πŸ™‚

      • We do have some conservatories here, but in D.C. There is another one I could go to that’s pretty small. I wonder if I could get close up to the windows like you do. I wanted to try at Lewis Ginter, but there’s water around it and you can’t really get up close to the windows. I’ll have to try somewhere!

  17. I love these. For me it’s the textures as well as the different framing. The moisture streaks and/or cloudiness makes me grapple with the parts that are obscured and gives a dreamlike quality that allows my mind to wander and fill in what I wish. Beautiful!

    • Thanks so much, Alison…I bet you can find simialr scenarios in Vancouver with little difficulty – there must be a few conservatories around. The trick sometimes is when you can’t get close, or the plants aren’t pushed up against the windows (at least that’s what I like best). There are more photos along these lines in an album – it’s called “Push” – on my flickr page:
      https://www.flickr.com/photos/lynnwohlers/albums


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s