Saturday, February 7, 2015

Gardening Gone Wild Picture This Contest - Best of 2014 (Portland Fling Day 3 teaser)

On this week’s coldest evenings, l conducted a final review of the 893 photos I took on the last day of the Portland Garden Bloggers Fling. Looking back at these photos helped take a bit of wintery shiver out of my bones. It was such a superb event and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go. I’ve managed to edit the day’s shots down to 79 photos: way too many photos for a single blog post, even for me. So I’m planning to divide the last day into several posts, to give each garden a proper review.

I also read this week that Saxon Holt is resurrecting the Picture This photo contest at Gardening Gone Wild with a Best of 2014 theme. While organizing and categorizing last year's photos (because we all do that every year), Holt is encouraging us to look for the best photo - the one with the strongest composition that uses the entire frame to tell a story - then write a blog post about it and enter it into the contest. First prize is Holt’s eBook, Good Garden Photography, and second prize is a one-month membership ($5 value) to the PhotoBotanic Garden Photography Workshop. With prizes like these, I realized I had to make time to enter.

Without a doubt, my Portland Fling photos were my top photos of 2014, and one shot in particular sends me right back to those summery days in the Pacific Northwest. I took this photo at Bella Madrona, the final and most enchanting garden we toured. With this photo, I tried to capture the fairy-tale feeling of this garden room, one of hundreds of vignettes I found while wandering through the five-acre estate.

Bella Madrona, Portland OR

The ducks in the center of the photo led me to this space, you see; they waddled and I followed. Because I took the photo with a wide-angle lens, the three chairs in the foreground appear larger than life, grabbing the eye while giving the image an Alice-in-Wonderland feel. The blogger in the background provides a sense of scale, albeit an altered one, and the color of her hot pink blouse helps to draw the viewer's eye across the photo from left to right. (Wait, maybe there’s two bloggers in the background... or is that a garden fairy hiding in the thick foliage just left of center?) The overcast sky is blown out, but in this case, I rather like the hazy, open, lightheaded effect this has on the top third of the photo, drawing the eye upward to the airy, feathery treetops in contrast to the darker topiary arches - so let’s pretend I planned it that way.

Maybe Holt’s eBook will offer some tips on how to ensure a properly exposed image when shooting gardens with deep, dark shadows under a white cloudy sky, as this has always been a personal challenge.  I'm aware that large apertures and slow shutter speeds can result in overexposed images, but at a shutter speed of 1/320th of a second and an aperture of f/13.0, that wasn't the issue here.

If you want to enter the contest, better hurry: the deadline is tonight at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

Words and photos © 2009-2015 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.