Heading Out Without Expectations

Most of the time when I head out to shoot, I have something specific in mind--whether I'm taking photographs for a client, my stock files, or a personal artistic project. But sometimes it's nice to go without a shot list or expectations--to simply be open to possibilities.

 Photo ©2014 Lee Anne White

Photo ©2014 Lee Anne White

That's what I did one overcast morning last week in Fernandina Beach. I was on my way to the Cuban sandwich shop for a cup of cafe con leche when I made a last minute decision to grab my camera. I wandered past the same familiar buildings, but in the day's soft light and with camera in hand, I began to see things differently.

When you are simply open to what grabs your attention rather than intentionally looking for something specific, new things appear on your radar screen. It's like when I go to an antique store: If I'm looking for something specific, I tend to tune out everything else in the store. When I'm just browsing for fun, I make all kinds of interesting discoveries. That's how I found this little composition. It's just an old garage door on an abandoned warehouse, but the colorful wood, rusting bolts and disintegrating wire mesh gave me something to work with. I made a dozen or more different shots, arranging the elements in different ways. This one was my favorite.

From the Archives: Hestercombe Gardens

A number of years ago, I traveled to England with my good friend, landscape architect Jeni Webber. Our rather ambitious goal, as I recall, was to visit 20 classic gardens in 10 days. No doubt, we did not do any of them justice--though it was a great introduction to English gardens and we had a delightful trip. There was still time at the end of each evening to unwind at a local pub for a recap of the day's discoveries.

 Hestercombe House Formal Garden. Taunton, Somerset, England. Photo ©Lee Anne White.

Hestercombe House Formal Garden. Taunton, Somerset, England. Photo ©Lee Anne White.

While all of the gardens were impressive, my hands-down favorite was the formal, sunken garden at Hestercombe House in Somerset. A collaboration between architect Edward Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, this garden was commissioned in 1903. Lutyens and Jekyll often worked together. Most often, he designed the house and she designed the gardens. At Hestercombe, Lutyens's focus was the structure and construction of the garden, which was terraced and contained steps, long walls and multiple water features (wall fountain, tiered fountain and runnels). Jekyll, who was a master of both color and working with herbaceous perennials, focused on the extensive plantings. It has been described as the height of their collaboration on more than 100 projects.

Playtime at the Arch

I spent last week photographing the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial park, which is home to the St. Louis Arch. It involved five days of lugging 30 pounds of large-format camera gear and shooting in snow, bitter winds and sub-freezing temperatures. It was an enjoyable, but physically demanding assignment.

As much as I would have liked to spend some personal time photographing the arch with my digital camera, it took every free daylight hour just to accomplish the assignment at hand. Instead, I turned to my iPhone for occasional "grab shots" and found I loved playing with both this on-the-go format and Instagram. I know everyone makes a big deal out of the #nofilter hashtag to prove that what they took was a straight shot, but pros turn to filters and analog/digital darkroom adjustments all the time to convey the mood they want for a photo...so why not something like Instagram for phone shots? I believe it's just one more tool for expressing our vision and creativity.

Winter...A Time for Rest

I'm teaching at the Southern Gardening Symposium at Callaway Gardens this weekend. Yesterday, I was out scouting potential shooting locations. It was a peaceful day in the garden--overcast, quiet, still. Thanks to the hard freezes we've had recently, there weren't any vegetables growing in Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden, but I enjoyed my visit in that part of the garden anyhow. It felt more like a working farm, and the way a farm should feel in winter. And that suited me just fine.

Mr. Cason's Vegetable Garden in Winter, Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, GA. Photos ©2010 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.

Reflecting on Water

I'm fine-tuning a talk on "Integrating Water in the Garden" for next week's Southern Gardening Symposium at Callaway Gardens. In particular, I'm working on my introductory and closing remarks, trying to set the mood for the presentation. So I'm sitting here at my desk listening to meditative music with the sounds of water: waves gently rolling ashore, gurgling brooks, rain on a tin roof. I'm thinking of my earliest experiences with water: feeding the goldfish in my grandmother's pond, paddling a canoe down the Chestatee River, watching the sun set over Lake Lanier, diving into crashing waves at the beach, listening to the rain fall on the cabin roof at summer camp.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of writing and photographing the Water Garden Idea Book, which was published by Taunton Books. The best part of that project was discovering the ingenious ways designers and gardeners had worked water into their landscapes. Some were as simple as a small, water filled basin tucked into a border. Others dazzled the eye and mind--water stairs, sculptural wall fountains and more. Here are a few that I especially enjoyed.

Design: The Fockele Garden Company. Photo ©2009 Lee Anne White

Design: (left) Clemens & Associates, (right) Steve Martino & Associates. Photo ©2009 Lee Anne White.

Design: Rich Ferraro. Construction: Red Rock Pools & Spas. Homeowner: Dan & Paulette Campbell. Photo ©2009. Lee Anne White.

Design: Robin & Paul Cowley. Photo ©2009 Lee Anne White.

Design: (left) JC Enterprises Inc., (right) Clemens & Associates. Photos ©2009 Lee Anne White.

Design: Jack Chandler. Photo ©2009 Lee Anne White.

Design: Clemens & Associates. Photo ©2009 Lee Anne White.

Design: The Fockele Garden Company. And yes, the one of the left is manmade. Photos ©2009 Lee Anne White.

Design: Ben Page, Jr.  Photo ©2009 Lee Anne White.

Design: (left) Red Rock Pools & Spas, (right) Scott Melcher.

Design: Stone Forest, Inc.  Photo ©2009 Lee Anne White.

Design: Robin & Paul Cowley. Photo ©2009 Lee Anne White.

Reflections and Recycled Glass

I'm not sure which I like better: recycled glass tiles or their reflection in water. Recycled glass tiles are a durable, beautiful and sustainable building material made from silica sand and up to roughly 85% recycled glass. It is an excellent material for bathrooms, kitchens, pools and spas. Here it is used in a swimming pool by the designers at Da Vida Pools in Austin, TX.

A tip for those interested in photographing reflections: Use a polarizing filter. While we often think of using a polarizer to knock the reflection or glare off of metal, glass or water, it can also be used to enhance reflections and saturate colors. The beauty of a circular polarizing filter is that what you see is what you get. It is a double-glass filter, and you simply turn the outer ring until you get the results you like.

Photo ©2008. Lee Anne White. All rights reserved. Design: Da Vida Pools.

Cool Pool

I spent much of last summer photographing pools and spas. This one, designed by Jamie Scott of Groupworks, Inc., is located near Fishkill, NY. Very contemporary with clean lines, it features an infinity (vanishing) edge; a raised, stained-concrete spa with a 360-degree overflow and runnel; underwater benches and a pavilion.

 

 

 

Photos ©2008 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved. Design: Groupworks, Inc.