Month in Tens – January

Shoot the Ordinary

Shooting the ordinary forces one to study the object from many angles, varying the camera technique, and possibly frame it in non-traditional ways to capture interest where there may be none. Some of the images pictured are of equipment used on a commercial nursery and some are snapshots of farm life. The next grouping is shots around the Falls that tourists would never choose to see. And some, just plain old household stuff. I did not use any filters or effects, just typical camera work.

I am trying to make something out of nothing in a way. I don’t know if I am succeeding because dedicating a photo a day to follow a theme is tough. It requires loads of discipline, time and patience and I only have one of those. So let’s give it a go and make it even more structured…..

A Post Within a Post

The small images are my attempt to document the weather in my Niagara Falls garden for the year documented in Month in Ten posts.  Any of the photos can be made larger. Our January is not very typical so far.

  • 1 January 2012 10 am 45° Sunny then Late Evening Snow
  • 2 January 2012 11 am 27° Sunny then a Rainy Afternoon
  • 3 January 2012 11 am 26° Sunny at 10 am turned to Snow at 11 am

Who put the mushroom in the tree? And rain when there should be snow.

Shooting the ordinary can mean unveiling or demonstrating in a photograph the subject’s curve, form, color, pattern, or texture that makes it stand out and be admired. It might just note the odd and unusual to something just plain or nondescript.

Or the accidental where the subject takes on a whole new meaning. Those fiery eyes are freaky. I have another photo of him (less blurry) peering from around the pear tree. It was even spookier, but did not fill the page frame.

Or the staged…. where lighting is so important with something very ordinary. Also, seeing an object where you would least expect it… roses on the snow? They were on their way to the curb on trash day and fell out of the container onto the snow. The way they landed, I went back in for my camera. There was a dozen on them in the arrangement, but only two fell out. It was like happenstance. The cockatoo feathers are from my painting with light fun. I love his salmon colored crown.

  • 4 January 2012 10 am 35° Sunny
  • 5 January 2012 10 am 30° Cloudy
  • 6 January 2012 10 am 42° Cloudy and Windy

Sometimes it is for no reason other than watching the movement and flow. To see patterns and forms, like watching time ooze by.

Sometimes you just see something that is not like you suspect, whether it is frozen-formed ice bells along the rapids or a Black Capped standing a bit odd in really dense brush. That is one acrobatic bird and I did not even get his best upside-down move.

Fences serpentining a beautiful landscape in golden light. These fences are to prevent snow drifts and also to keep people away from dangerous and slippery areas by the Falls. They really mar the beauty of the Falls, but still I had to get their photo.

Things that are ordinary can become beautiful if they are just studied or noticed. This area is dense brush, but the red and lavender twigs stand out in amongst all the grays and browns of the winter scape. They are even prettier with the water just beyond.

  • 7 January 2012 9 am 38° Sunny and Calm.  The hole in the tree is interesting and looks a little ominous. The Norway was topped in the last major wind storm and broke, leaving the hole intact.
  • 8 January 2012 10 am 30° Sunny.  And yes, that is a robin in my pear tree. More on that later.

No, not a zebra tail at the farm… just a flexible drainage pipe.

Opposing textures and objects, but something seems similar. What I find really fun, is what comes out of these pipes in the summer, chipmunks, snakes, mice and all kinds of creepy crawlies. The bigger pipes have much bigger animals too. The dog chases raccoons, skunks, rabbits and groundhogs, and I have seen a few disappear into the large pipes.

  • 9 January 2012 10 am 32° Sunny. Rosebuds?
  • 10 January 2012 10 am 40° Sunny and Calm. Robin nest weather worn in Lilac Tree.

The Month in Tens theme Ordinary Things continues for January with a look around town. What can I find?

Next Month in Tens in February is entitled, If It Moves or Soars, and will be a look at anything moving, land, sky or water. A really fun theme and a harder one to photograph.

Next post is Sticks, Stones, Leaves, and Logs – Part 1. It is just a photo study of things found in nature at this time of year.

The Niagara Falls Garden magazine will be posted on January 15. This is a special end of the year edition, looking at the garden in review.  Always a great look back in photos. And the post on Sustainability will be not what you are expecting. It is a strange look at sustainable living, both on a large-scale and as an individual.


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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47 Responses to Month in Tens – January

  1. helensadornmentsblog says:

    Your photography is always a treat. I especially loved the photos of the bubbles and water running down the window as well as the fence photos.

    • Fences are really great subjects in the snow. I just choose about the worst fence example and that was done on purpose because I really wanted to make the unattractive worth a look. It was the lighting though that was really the subject.

  2. Now I am wondering which of the three you have—I guess discipline. My other guess is that the January 5 photo was taken in a car wash. My favorite is the seedheads with the green background—very eye-catching. Not to be stupid but does Month in Tens just mean that you are breaking the month into 10 day pieces? Loved this post.

  3. KL says:

    You are very very successful. I wish I could do such compositions.

  4. Jeanette says:

    What a frightening black squirrel.
    Donna, January is a good month for gardeners to look at things differently. Your roses on the snow reflect, “Victorian, frozen in time.” I love the brown tones mixed with the red and white….. makes me think hot cocoa. I like the seed heads too. The flexible drain pipes are Groovy. You make something so utilitarian look beautiful.

    • I looked at those roses on the ground and did not see why they appealed to me and I think you hit the nail on the head. Now it brings back images of wallpaper and greeting cards from the time much older, I had a great aunt that collected this stuff.

  5. elaine says:

    You have so many good ideas – don’t know where they come from but they make great reading.

    • Thanks Elaine. This idea came from projects I had in my studies. Art, Architecture and Photography all had similar assignments, but in different media. In architecture, I was assigned to build an everyday object in an unordinary way. I built a chair. It was so unusual, it was published in a national collegiate journal and I won an award. In art, I painted a corkscrew ala Andy Warhol and it too won an award. This was a little too easy though as I was an illustrator at the time. Photography….I did an image of a rolling orange. The orange was leaving a piece of flowing material in its path that was wrapped around a nude figure. It was really cool studio work, but all the imagery came out of the darkroom. This was where I did most of my photo work. That is why I like Photoshop so much today.

  6. You have a very good eye to make interesting composition out of the ordinary. That is quite a challenge. I am particularly drawn to your pipe photos!

  7. Dear Donna, Wow! Even the fence looks beautiful the way you photographed it. I would partake in this meme if my photography was better. The weather is really freaky. P. x

    • This is not a meme Pam, but it would be a fun one. It is too hard for people to do this kind of post because it takes daily hunting for a photo subject. The weather report images, no sweat, I just walk out the door at 10 am.

  8. You have quickly become my “photography inspiration” – you have such a good eye for composition. Thanks for sharing these great pictures – keep them coming.

    • Thank you for the shout out on your post. I love the way you were capturing the birds in flight. Tr the burst feature on your new Canon. I bet it has this feature. I did not use it on my Nikon in my Aerial Ballet post, but it would make getting them framed almost a given.

  9. Donna I must say wow! This post had so much work involved …you can tell all that you are documenting and capturing in pictures….while my weather has been cold and little snow, I do not have a blessed thing blooming…we do get much colder here I think and without any snow cover it is very brown. I enjoy the way you capture the ordinary and make it extraordinary!!

    • I found it really is not as much work as it looks. I automate a lot of the blogging part by writing scripts to size images and such. What I did not find easy, is finding stuff to photograph, and find a way to make it look different. It really is a great exercise to improve skills and makes you really ‘see’ the subject you are trying to capture. A good tip is follow the light. I found some really boring stuff looks great in good lighting.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Donna, I think that you have proven that even commonplace things have a beauty, if you simply take the time to see it. Love the shot of the pipes and the ice bells especially.

  11. John says:

    You do an amazing jobs transforming something as mundane as rusted pipes or black plastic drain pipes into something that captures the eye and demands further contemplation. Very well done. And yes, that is one evil looking squirrel. One glance at a squirrel like that and I understand why my dogs go so bonkers barking at them. Perhaps they are indeed evil incarnate.

    • I believe there are some squirrels that are little devil incarnates. I really lose my patience with them too. I have two ‘pet’ squirrels, Gaylord and Gilbert. They are good little squirrels, but the ghetto squirrels moved in and …. not so nice. All the other squirrels make for the trees when these guys arrive. Then my mulch bins are torn to shreds.

  12. Joy says:

    Donna girl , none of these pictures are ordinary at all .. I let out a few gasps at some of them ! .. That squirrel is an evil little guy and more so the longer you stare at him ? LOL
    What kind of camera are you using ? I hope to move on to a DSLR later this year .. I want to have more control over what I see and want to capture.
    That grass of mine is a funny thing .. it survived last winter in a pot .. so when it got bigger and lush I decided to plant it in the garden .. but for the life of me I can’t find the tag or figure out what it is .. I have a few carex and it doesn’t seem to have the same characteristics. Then I thought a type of molinia .. I have the Variegated Purple Moor Grass and the structure looks like that .. but this will drive me a bit mad trying to figure it out.
    Eventually some one might recognize it this year ? aarrgghh !
    Those pictures were beautiful Donna ! .. loved the rose buds (eerie this time of year) plus the roses .. and that chickadee : )

    • I am using a Nikon D7000 and a Nikon D80. The 7000 is a much faster camera and I am finding it has many more features. The D80 is three years older and I got the D7000 because the D80 was having so many problems and was in for repair constantly. I never thought they would ever get it fixed and each time I was without it was for about a month at a time. You ALL know how frustrating that is when photos are what you need for blogging. They loaned me a D7000 and I liked it so much, I got one. But the great thing I found out by having two now functioning cameras (yes, they finally fixed it after two years) is how much I use both on the same photo shoots. One holds a macro lens and the other holds a telephoto. I don’t always have both along, but am glad when I do.

  13. One of the challenges as an amateur photographer is finding those views that highlight a different aspect or show another side or bring something rare into view. I studied photography in college, but had gotten involved in other things over the years. I am glad to have re-discovered it again and to be looking at things with a different eye. Your photos demonstrate that we can see ordinary things in a new way or from a new angle. I hope that by viewing these types of photos we can translate that into opening up other irises of our eyes and other avenues of our hearts.

    • Very well said on shooting with compositional purpose. I too had a year of photography in university and loved all the classes, but as time went by… my photography ‘assignments’ for the firm I worked for just became documentation. Much for building project reports and some for legal stuff. You can only imagine how bland and uninteresting these images were. Blogging got me back into the artistic look at photography and that means practice, practice practice. I can not believe how much I lost in the time I was just ‘point and shooting’.

  14. Cat says:

    A not so ordinary view of the ordinary you have here! Great compositions, Donna. I love the galvanized (I think) pipes. Beautiful in their simplicity.

    • That is one thing that is laying all around the nursery. From irrigation to drainage, pipes galore. They are an interesting subject and I always wish I had more time to photograph them them. I have to stalk them next year and get the animals running in and out. Those images would be fun.

  15. b-a-g says:

    I didn’t realise that was a robin. In the UK, the robins that I’ve seen only have red feathers in the upper chest area.

  16. lula says:

    Nice post, I see your point of looking at a different angle, that is why I love the camera, that makes your attention find other points of interest. If I have to choose I would say my favorites are the image of the fence and the glass.

    • lula says:

      Something else: shooting the ordinary with intelligence, that is really difficult and you succeed!

      • Thank you Lula. I look at these posts as a learning experience. I pick up so much in just the ability to see my subject. And “shooting with intelligence”, that is a good point. I learned awhile ago to ‘follow the light’. I think that is something that fits the bill. Shooting for the light is not always so easy either. What the eye sees is hardly ever what the camera sees, that is where the photographer’s experience and ability shine.

  17. Lovely photos! Unique! Artistic!
    I always enjoy my visits to your blog.
    Thank you for sharing your expertise!

  18. HolleyGarden says:

    When someone (like you) can take an ordinary object and show it as a work of beauty, that is a sign of a true artist. Your photography is true art!

  19. bumblelush says:

    Oh my gosh, that squirrel cracks me up! I also like the mushroom photo, it just seems like such a clean picture. I think there’s beauty in ordinary things, and your photographs demonstrate that. The great part of winter is that there isn’t a lot of color and flash to distract us from common things. (And speakin of atypical January–we’ve gone from spring to winter and back to spring again this week in DC. Yikes!)

    • That squirrel photo was a surprise to me. I could have fixed both in Photoshop, but the interest came from the ‘flashed eyes’. The other photo was more ominous and I should have showed that one instead. Those red beady eyes peered from around the tree.

  20. I love the idea of shooting the ordinary. I think this is where we can find the true soul of the world….not in the fancywancy…..if you know what I mean! Love your thoughts on this keep the exploration going:~)

    • It is exploration. It is the only way to expand and become better by going outside the box. It is also putting out there – work that might not be so good initially at the beginning of the journey, but in time, to look back from where you came… and hopefully see images that express art at some point.

  21. debsgarden says:

    Wonderful images, and for me there is nothing ordinary about frozen rapids! It really is fun, and I think it enriches one’s life, to recognize the beauty in the common things around us. As I was coming home from work last night I passed a dripping, rain soaked tree backlit by a street lamp in an industrial area. The effect at that moment was magical, and I may have been the only person to see and appreciate it. I wished I had had my camera with me!

    • I know what you mean about not having your camera when the moment presents. That is frustrating and the iPhone will just not do. The ordinary things can be great photo finds, but it takes so much more effort to find the essence of the object or place. Just starting to find those things more interesting and good learning tool.

  22. Andrea says:

    We, having ordinary eyes look at things as ordinary, but you artists can translate them into very unique compositions. I always admire good photographers like you to bring the best angle which i don’t see at once. I smiled specifically at the piles of ringed tubes, which i wouldn’t thought of taking photos of!

    [About my post: Duranta repens is cultivated as ornamental here, and the golden duranta has been planted as street hedges in many places because it is tolerant of our dry season]

  23. GirlSprout says:

    Donna, I love to take photos of industrial things, especially freeway ramps. Your photos are awe inspiring. Today, they gave me a little chill looking through them.

  24. Donna I love the top 2 of rusting things, the ice bells are amazing I have never seen anything like that before, snow and ice have beauty, my fave though is the teassel and the way you have caught the light on it, just gorgeous,
    like you our weather is warmer than normal and we have just had 2 clam days so I been in the garden, Frances

  25. tina says:

    You take the ordinary and make it quite beautiful leaving the viewers wanting more. I think you do a great job at picking themes.

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