Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Morning at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

  Photography workshops at the Ruth Bancroft Garden are popular, typically filled and thus continue to be scheduled. I'm pretty sure I've been to all of them. As usual, the attendees are admitted to the garden at 8am a full two hours before the garden opens to the public. The difference in light between 8 and 10 is significant, and because Walnut Creek is inland from the bay and less prone to marine influence even 9am can be bright and contrasty.I posted about the January workshop here, and you can see how gentle the light was compared with this spring visit. The workshops are conducted by John Ricca, are free to members of the garden and a bargain for those who are not.

The covers have been taken of the tender plants, though I saw many of the more portable covers stashed here and there in the event of a late frost. The area depicted here was under protection all winter.




 The Aloe blooms were mostly done but a few still lingered.










 We were encouraged to get up close, and think about pattern and form but the lens I  had on my camera was unable to zoom in very far. I loved this Mangave , but I blew the focus point. Since one of my goals for the class was to concentrate on focus I feel ok with the fact the I recognized the mistake I made here.








Here you can see the light brightening .




Once the light got stronger I chose to take wider views , trying to use exposure compensation to dial down the harshness.






  So bittersweet to see the Agaves spew forth their asparagian spikes knowing they are doomed.


 I always learn something at these workshops and because I have hundreds of photos taken here I am challenged to look at things in a new way, from a new viewpoint .

16 comments:

  1. Hi KS, so wonderful that you can do these photo workshops at the Ruth Bancroft Garden!
    I took quite a few pictures in my own garden lately and struggle so much with the harsh light conditions that we are having here. Everything comes out a little overexposed and the colors are rather washed out.
    My camera is about eight years old, which is very old in terms of camera technology which doesn't help either.
    Really enjoyed looking at your photos!
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Hi Christina, the first thing I learned from a mentor that helped me get comfortable with photography was to take photos whenever possible 2 hours before or after sunrise and sunset.The next best thing I learned was 'back-light/side-light no front light' , in other words never take a photo with the sun behind you lighting your subject from the front if you can avoid it. These two pieces of advice changed everything for me !

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  2. These must be so much fun, thanks for sharing some of your photos.

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    1. They are fun, and no crowds in the garden is also fun !

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  3. Thanks for sharing your lovely photos! What do I know, I love the shot of the mangave. I'm wondering what that plant is that has the coloring of Agave 'Blue Glow' but looks more like Agave bracteosa?

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    1. Thanks Alison. For all I know that could in fact be perhaps a version of Agave bracteosa, the labels at RBG are little metal hangy things that require one to crawl about on the ground to see. I spend a fair amount of time crawling about on the ground in my home garden but I feel it's best to spare any spectators in such a public venue !

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  4. I love seeing the Ruth Bancroft Garden through the lens of your camera. A few months does make a significant difference in the light. I'm impressed by your work on your photography skills (and by your use of all the appropriate terminology). I just ordered the book Gerhard mentioned on his blog to get some guidance in improving my own picture-taking skills, which are woefully limited.

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    1. Thanks Kris. I think I'm going to buy that book too, if Gerhard with his advanced photo skills found it worthwhile I'm sure I would too. See my response to Christina above --the light and how you handle it is everything !

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  5. I see how you "dialed down" in the lighting. A very different effect. Here the light starts getting harsh around 8:30.

    The more Agaves I grow, the less I consider them "doomed" when they bloom. There are either offsets, or plantlets, or a gazillion seeds--or all three! It's a refresh, not an end.

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    1. I always forget about exposure compensation Hoov, and told myself I would experiment with it more.In view of the fact that many public gardens and most garden tours don't get started til 10 am one is kind of stuck with bright sun--as least til June Gloom makes it's annual appearance. You are right about the Agaves--but I do get attached to certain plants at RBG !

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  6. Love the way you've used the light in these photos. The close up of the agave with the light coming in from the left, stunning!

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    1. Thanks Jessica. I must say this is one of the more photogenic gardens in northern California, and I'm grateful I have the opportunity to visit it in multiple seasons.

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  7. These are exquisite as usual. Yes, the time of day tip has worked well even for someone with woeful photography skills like me. I wish I could take better pictures but it just seems so overwhelming.

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  8. Thanks Sue, and really the time of day is key --though not always convenient !

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  9. So glad you're attending and sharing your tips! My go-to camera has broken, so I need to rethink the next step. I think I remember that you have tried refurbished cameras in the past, so I may go that route as well. I fully intend to get up to RBG this spring!

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    1. I've bought refurb cameras and lenses Denise, with good results and significant savings. I am registering for a full-day workshop at Western Hills in June w/Saxon H. Think it will be really fun !

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