Foto Foliage Follow Up

I have never participated in Foliage Follow-Up the day after GBBD, of which I posted my monthly magazine yesterday. Take a peek if you haven’t already.

Since the winter weather keeps me from posting pretty garden blooms, I have been out with my camera on the Farm shooting, what else , but dead foliage. Does not sound too interesting or colorful, but the textures are gorgeous. I love this time of year because it beckons you to study form and texture, because, devoid of color, they become very dominant in the landscape.

You pick up subtle detail more readily, and what little color there is stands out, like the blue greens above. A little camera depth of field gives a painterly appeal. This post gives me a chance to critique my own images.

I am a painter, but not a photographer. I have had many courses in college on photography and much lab work, but it was from an artistic perspective and documentation use of the camera rather than a technical expertise study.

So my images do not have that professional quality that many other bloggers possess.

But what I bring to the table is an ability to ‘see’. That is something I learned in architecture school. I can find interest in very mundane things, but without the camera skills, it becomes not necessarily what I want to portray. I can see it, but not reproduce to film or digital what I have imagined the shot to be.

Compositionally, there is movement and direction, but I need the ability to make the images come to life.

A lot of times, good contrast accomplishes that. Shooting on a snowy and gray day, makes and amateur photographer have to try that much harder to pull contrast and depth from an image.

Selective cropping would have helped too, like I did below to bring the dead Queen Anne’s Lace to life. I cropped out the blurred background and focussed on the flower itself. I also put the flower in the right third of the image. But this is too much work for me, having a job and writing a blog. I want to get it right the first time.

The image below is an example. So much is going on, that if I had more contrast between elements, yet still retained the textural qualities, I think it would be more interesting.

But I am more interested in getting the shot right the first time, like I said above.

Sure, I am a whiz with Photoshop, but that says nothing if I don’t have a great shot to start. This dead foliage mess below really interested me, but I could not capture that appeal. If I captured it right, it would not be described as a foliage mess.

I like the image below with the trees moving in opposite directions, but the image remains a bit flat.

I like the movement or undulation of foliage, but again, it lacks good depth. Note how the foliage follows the rocks edge. A better photograph would have brought this subtle detail to life.

The foreground background relationship is OK, but no real punch.

I like the lighting and color  below with one large element in amongst the many. A focal point, like a little bird off-center would have been a real plus. I do realize the tree trunk is a focal point, but I needed another object for scale. I have big and little, but no in between. I have linear, but no round and soft.

This one is really directional and is one of my favorites. It juxtaposes what appears soft and highly textural to what is hard and smooth. Visual interest. I too like the diagonal elements jutting left, with just one heading off the the right.

This little secret find was just that. A little hidden glimpse of seed pods bursting with life. They are nestled in a crevice for protection, like it found the perfect home.

The repetitive vertically struck me along with the bark texture. I like the ‘dots’. Not sure why. And you NEVER say that in a professional critique.  You must always know why.

“The log was just calling to me.” That is artsy and is OK said in a critique. Makes you wonder about these atelier critiques. I was very academic, but some of this artsy crap just bugged me. If you sound heads above the rest you just are? Hogwash.

And here are a couple I like for the subtle color and or perspective. And my love of little wind bronzed boxwood.

This one is a little gratuitous because I really like a stand of  birch.

I like the juxtaposition of ice to running water. This water fall was created from building debris. It is pretty in its rough and serendipitous kind of way.

I want to thank Pam from Digging for hosting this meme. I was glad to join and hope to get some feedback from professional photographers. And you garden bloggers with those stunning images, let me hear your thoughts and tips too.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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42 Responses to Foto Foliage Follow Up

  1. Les says:

    There is no need to apologize for these photos. You can tell you have a background in painting, especially in the crevice shot.

  2. lifeshighway says:

    I am not a professional artist in any way or shape. I am techie. So for people like me, we look at the images and are delighted by the scope of vision. You have an artist’s eye. I can see that.

    My favorite: The Queen Anne’s Lace.

  3. Pam/Digging says:

    Thanks for joining in this month, Donna. Your images of winter are fascinating to me, as it’s always so green here. I really like your images of the stand of birch and the one above it, with the boxwood, which looks almost abstract with blocks of color. The closeups of lichen and such remind us how much beauty there is even when foliage has fallen and the world is cold.

    • I have a little green envy, but I am sure most gardeners do. At least we get a little winter rest from digging in the dirt, but catalog perusing can only go so far to fill the lust for color and vibrancy.

      I am glad to join and I added your link to the post. I just got back from a failed root canal and I have to say I am a bit foggy from the meds, so I neglected to add the link before the post went live. Sorrrry!

  4. No professional advice on photos to offer here, other than I think they’re great 🙂 But I do know what you mean…sometimes the way a photo comes out is not the magnificence that my eyes are seeing. I suppose a photo can convey “what” we are seeing, but not necessarily the “way” we are seeing it; because, alas, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The camera and photo are not living things that can process an object/scene with emotions. But it is fun to try, isn’t it 🙂 I have so much to learn in the photography department, not the least of which is how to use the new camera I just got!

    • You made a really good point.”I suppose a photo can convey “what” we are seeing, but not necessarily the “way” we are seeing it; because, alas, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ” I can not say it better.

  5. Donna I like your photos, I often don’t like the (for me) (too) polished photos on some blogs they seem unreal, I’m not a professional though just a member of the public who knows what she likes and doesn’t like and your photos I like, the ‘this log was just calling to me’ is beautiful as are many others, take heart and don’t be so self critical, you know the saying we are our own worst critic, Frances

    • Thank you for the nice comment. I am working on the photography. When I am in documentation mode, I just snap and shoot. With the blog, photography is king and I am trying to make the photos blog worthy. One thing about photography, you really need patience and time. Both of which I am trying to employ. Drawing, painting and illustrating is very easy for me, with many years of experience, I just have to look at photography in the same light. It is something to develop over time and a skill that needs much practice.

  6. Cat says:

    Donna there are so many of the images from your post that I love and speak volumes to me that I can’t list them all for lack of time…Your artist’s eye can’t help buy convey the passion you have and the beauty of your subject matter. I know what you’re saying about critics and how they like to tear a photo apart but I’m just saying that for me, blogging is about sharing a journey of our gardening experiences and photography enhances the journey and helps convey the experiences…but it’s not everything. As for me, I wish I was a better writer 😉 I read so many blogs and I think, yes, that is exactly how I feel – why can’t I just say that? I agree with Frances and believe we are our own worst critic! Hope you feel better soon – Cat

    • This was architecture school of which I was speaking. In photography classes they were very compassionate. In architecture, ruthless. I was just glad I was very good at architecture or my ego would have evaporated completely.

      I feel as you with writing. I can be creative and make a story, but making it speak to the reader is another thing all together. I tend to rely on humor and even poetry. They seem to be a crutch for me at holding a readers interest.

      It does not help that i am dyslexic either. Sometimes I write something I can not even read. Someday I do a post on this and leave in all the misspellings and jumbled sentences. It is almost comical.

      I took a long nap today to sleep off the medication. Felling much perkier now, thanks.

  7. I have no advice to give as I am also learning. Perhaps the best concept tht I am discovering is how perspective can totally change a shot. No need for the pic to include every branch of that beautiful tree, choose an angle and focus on that. I happen to love your tree trunks pic… it really does speak to me. But in the speaking, I gather questions to wonder about… why did that little dab of lichen choose that little spot to grow on? What about those subtle shades of green slipping down the left trunk… why is it there and not so much on the other trunks? And why do those silly litlle white polka dots keep streaming throught the pic? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself on that one 🙂 ) Lovely post, Donna. I always enjoy my visits with you.

    • Your photography is one of which I admire. You do have the patience that I lack. To get those hummingbird images and to have them so magazine worthy takes talent in addition to the patience. I can never capture birds in flight unless I am using a film camera, for some reason, I can never get a clear action shot with the digital, no matter how I shoot in manual. I know the setting should be the same, but it never seems to work. Both are Nikon SLR’s too.

      You would have made a get instructor with your questions and banter. They always asked questions that were difficult to answer to keep you thinking and seeing.

  8. The one with the exposed wood, and the fallen leaves? Two textures but the same range of colours. Love that.
    I have one set of images in my mind’s eye, and a second totally different set comes up on my computer screen. I must work with the 2nd set ;>(

    • Your images are also ones I really admire. You get gorgeous shots and it is not just because your subject matter is so amazing. You have great photography skills, but good to hear even you wrestle with what goes in the camera from your mind’s perspective, is not always the same by the time it hits the monitor.

  9. Missy says:

    Donna in my humble opinion your photography is professional.
    One thing I learnt from our recent photography course was that the professionals will take hundreds of photos and maybe only one or too will have that star quality – so no one is perfect all the time.

    • Excellent point. I remember that from my classes too. Lacking patience made me forget this. I remember having scores of images and finding only one or two worthy of presentation. That is probably my main problem, not taking enough exposures and angles. Thank you. A light just went off in my head from your comment.

  10. Lona says:

    Your photos are wonderful. I would love to get my camera to photograph what I really want it to. LOL! I do not think I will ever get it figured out. Getting pictures of snow is my greatest challenge and disappointment. I just cannot get the depth or definitions in it to show up. The sharpen image function (second to the delete button) has become my best friend but I would love to be able to draw the images out without that help that feature. I will be interested to hear what replies you receive from the pros.
    Wishing you a Wonderful Christmas.

    • Your images are very good. Sharpened or not.

      I know, sharpening is a great tool. I could drop them all in Lightroom or Photoshop and make them so much better. I have been trying not to edit them to force myself to get better at getting a good shot in the first place. Like my edited Queen Anne’s Lace. I cropped it, sharpened it, added hue and vibrance, adjusted levels, and did some selective dodging and burning. And there are other filters I could have used too. All things I wish I did not have to do. Having a great photo to start would have left out many of these steps. I did use a filter on the lens of the camera for a couple of the better images with warm tones. Maybe not correctly, but it helps give the photos a little mood.

      I do know professionals do edit images, but their unedited ones are so much better than anything I produce, edited or otherwise.

  11. Beautiful photographs of winter, but where are the gnomes? All kidding aside, they look very professional to me. Carolyn

  12. p3chandan says:

    You and your photos are professional enough for me, with your writings explaining in great detail of the work and perspective shows you know what you are doing! Interesting post!

    • Thank you. I can critique because of my creative training but in photography I am like the professor who can sit there and tell you what you did wrong, but does not have the practical experience of work behind them to do it themselves. We had many architecture professors like that in college. No work experience, but they could write up anything to be admired and published.

      I want my photography to be more than that. I really do want to get better at it. How I noticed my skills fading was seeing all the beautiful work on blogs. Plus I go to these professional photographer’s sites and am so spellbound at their ability, I come back with my head held low and pouting. I know I can get better, I just need others to help me along with some basic tips. Like Missy’s tip, take many , many photos. That is one I forgot about.

  13. Wendy says:

    First of all, your winter shots are gorgeous!

    I totally know what you mean though. I feel like I can compose a shot, but there’s definitely something lacking. I used to think it was a good camera, but several hundred dollars later, nope, that wasn’t it. Part of me thinks it’s now knowing photoshop. I do like you do though – I strive to get it right the first time.

  14. One says:

    I love those bursting seeds. I don’t know why. Maybe, like you said, they seem nicely protected and safe in a crevice. As for those white dots on those vertical trunks, I guess they look good as the color match with the snow and their little round shape tones down those vertical lines. I have not attended any photography nor any artistic course before so please do not expect any smart comments.

    • Your comments are very good. My real explanation, if I was asked about the dots would be that they somewhat mimic those of the foliage found breaking the surface of the snow in the background but as an opposite, therefore, having a connection of foreground to background and that this was an intentional element of the shot.

      During academic critiques, you get asked to justify almost every part of a design. Sometimes you just make something up on the fly to avoid saying you don’t know why you did something. So you see, you had a great reason for the dots. Just expand it beyond the color.

  15. fer says:

    Beautiful photos! Love the little snowy roads, it is something we don’t see much in my country.
    You captured the greatness of winter at its best.

  16. You have a great eye for a shot, which is surely the main thing? I found your running critique fascinating. I understand what you mean about wanting to get the shot right first time, with a bit of time I would guess you will find yourself hitting the mark more than missing it, as most of us find composition the hardest part. The technical skill can be learnt, the artist’s eye is harder to come by. I love the icy water, though it is a shame about the wretched lorry. I also love the stand of birches, one of my favourite trees. But my favourite is the log that called to you – the colour, the textures, the way the tones of the leaves match those in the log, I can almost feel the smoothness and smell the damp. A thought about the dead leaves picture. To me it looks slightly spooky. Converting it to B&W would emphasise that and make the contrasting textures show up better. Fascinating! I look forward to seeing more!

    • How did you know about the lorry? That is an English bus or truck, right? I left out the shots with it crossing the stream. Very good eye you have to see the tracks, road and trailer parked in the corner of the shot. Not much shows. That is why the water has been dammed a bit with all the building debris, so that vehicular traffic can pass for access to the tree farm and the hayride for the kids at Christmas. It provides a solid base and helps keep the stream low enough so as not to flood out truck engines. I go across in my Jeep a lot. But sometimes it is impassable for my Jeep, unless it could swim of course. 😀 I don’t even remember having these images on my blog yet. What a good catch.

      You read my mind on the foliage mess shot. I was going to desaturate the image, sharpen and crop the image to focus in on a portion, but thought to leave the image as it was to gain advice. That is exactly what you did. In fact you had much good advice about feeling the mood of a shot, all important in getting your image to read as intended. I am sensing you are a professional.

      Another thing about B&W, they help you better analyze a scene, stripping out the color. In school, the first year, all the images were shot as B&W film. One was for the traditional lab work and artist expression through developing the film, but the other was for overall composition, ability to ‘see’, and a raw image to see our ways to improve the shots, among other reasons.

      I took photography courses in college, but over twenty years ago, well, 1987 and 1988 to be exact. So much to forget when your profession is something else altogether. I work in three dimensions daily, so my two dimensional work languished a bit. Painting and drawing suffered right along with photography as presentation work was time sensitive so it never was a great ‘masterpiece’. It was meant to show the client the dream of what is to be built, but also to sell a job where it was under bid consideration. Thank you for your helpful thoughts.

  17. Amy says:

    You’ve got some gorgeous photos here! I am a painter and amateur photographer (with a bit of a perfectionist streak), so your self-critique sounds vaguely familiar. I’m really drawn to the macro textures and contrasts in your images; the snow and wintry light make the grass, seedpods, and lichen stand out sharply. And the boxwood and birch photos almost demand to be painted.

    • Hi Amy, I do quickly painted illustrations (lots of gnomes) for the blog and during the winter months when my garden is sleeping, I plan to paint the flowers that are long gone, from images of course. It will give me a gardening fix.

      Thank you for your nice comment. I really appreciate your kind words since you are also a creative soul.

  18. Town Mouse says:

    Wow, those pictures are amazing, and I really enjoy the thoughtful discussion. I’m still a beginning photographer, and there’s so much to learn. Thanks very much!

    • Glad you stopped in TM. Even as a beginner you would have helpful insight. When I was teaching (architecture), I found the students to have so much creativity and insight that you rarely find with seasoned veterans. They would com up with ideas and techniques that were very inspiring.

  19. I was surprised at all of your criticism of your lovely photos. I enjoyed them all. I would like to be able to take better photos and put my words together better, but my main goals are to enjoy documenting my garden world, express myself the best I can, and get to know bloggers from around the world. If a few of my photos turn out well in an artistic sense, that’s a bonus.

    • It is not so much criticism as a critique. In school we had these after ever assignment. They were really meant to make us be the best we could be at our work. They offered ways to improve by professors and students alike. You received so much feedback and advice, your were bound to do better next time.

      I am technically deficient and so many out there are truly outstanding in this area. And these pretty images get the bloggers many viewers. I hope to have that someday and I try to make the blog the best I can with an unexpected variety of content. Writing and photography are not my strong points, maybe mediocre at best, and these are the real meat and potatoes of a blog.

      I like your idea of a garden journal. I look at GBBD each month as a way to document. And now Foliage Follow-Up. Your images in your FFU post are very good. You have more green showing and therefore more color. I like all the dried leaves in your images to for textural contrast. The closeups make you feel as if you are right there in your Nebraska garden. I visit your blog often so your writing and photos are getting me coming. You are in my sidebar too.

  20. fairegarden says:

    Hi Donna, what lovely images! If only I knew anything at all about photography, but can only say what appeals to me. I know nothing about any of the things you mention, and just a point and shoot on auto gal, taking thousands of photos to get a couple that please me. All of yours please me, but I do have a couple of favorites. The Daucus, teasel, and the birches. It more about how they make me feel than anything concrete and specific. They feel like winter’s artistry and I like that. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for leaving your comment. I love your images and admire your photography and gorgeous garden. I would have never guessed you were a point and shoot gal. I am learning from you and others it is about taking many images. I am usually not that patient, but I am going to make an effort to be in the future.

  21. Sue Langley says:

    After scrolling down from your post on making wreaths, which was fascinating, by the way, this one, makes me wonder if you have ever taken any ‘dead foliage’ as you say, and made a Wonderful ‘Winter’ Wreath from it?

    I enjoy your blog!

    • Yes, I used dried pee gee hydrangea in wreaths. There are a lot of field foliage to use, but it has to be dried properly, then lightly sprayed with a fixative to set the seed pods. Rarely do I have the time to gather a variety to dry ahead. They sell very well and are really special though. Also dried grass plumes work, but they are better in fall wreaths.

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