For the Birds

I am heading to Amelia Island for a working getaway soon. Even though I'll lug camera gear, computer gear and an oversized book bag down there and spend most of my time at the desk, I am looking forward to daily walks on the beach, the fresh air, and gazing through the lens of my camera. I'm hoping there will be lots of birds on the beach. (There are always birds on the beach, but the masses tend to be a seasonal thing.) The past trip or two, I've begun experimenting with different techniques for capturing them in more impressionistic ways. I'm also hoping to find some sharks' teeth, as I hear they have begun dredging the channel, which tends to stir them up.

Photo ©2009 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.

Snow Days

We don't get much snow in Georgia. When we do, it's usually mixed with sleet or ice, and it rarely lasts long enough to take photographs. But every few years, we'll have a beautiful snow, like we did last night. And I can slip out into my garden just long enough to grab a few shots before the clumps of snow begin to melt and fall off the trees.



All photos ©2010 Lee Anne White.

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.

Train Graffiti

Trains have always fascinated me as photographic subjects. All those nuts, bolts and rails. All that rust. And all of those wonderful, strong shadows. Add a bit of colorful graffiti and you have a great subject for abstract images. The key to shooting abstracts (or any other photographs, for that matter) is editing. What you leave out is just as important as what you leave in.

Photos ©2009 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks

Deep in the Pajarito Plateau of north-central New Mexico is a mysterious land of hoodoos and narrow canyons known as Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. "Kasha-Katuwe," which means "white cliffs" and was named by the people of the Conchiti Pueblo, was created as a result of volcanic eruptions that occurred six to seven million years ago. A three-mile (round-trip) trail winds through the narrow canyons and requires a steep scramble (630 foot) to the top of the mesa, where spectacular views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez and Sandia mountains and the Rio Grande valley abound.


Photos ©2008 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.

Fun at the Fair

I always love it when the fair comes to town. It's just a mile or so from our house, and I get to pass by daily even if I don't stop for cotton candy or a ride on the ferris wheel. My schedule and the weather didn't cooperate this year, so I missed the rides, but thought I'd share a few pics from a previous night at the fair.

All photos ©2009 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.

Bamboo Shoot

One of the little-known features on Brenau University's campus is its Bamboo Forest. Rediscovered a few years ago by biology teacher Louise Bauck, the overgrown forest was likely part of Dr. H.J. Pearce's Japanese garden. It is believed to have been planted in the 1920s when landscape architect Shogo Joseph Myaida designed several Japanese features on the Gainesville, Georgia, campus. The Bamboo Forest, which features timber bamboo exceeding a half foot in diameter and growing 50 feet tall, is located adjacent to what was once Lake Takeda--the focal point of Camp Takeda, a summer camp for girls.

I spent a bit of time exploring the forest this morning before rain set in. Thought I'd share a few of my shots.


All Photos ©2009 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.

Maine Media Workshops Experience

Over the years, I have both taken and taught week-long workshops at The Maine Media Workshops (formerly the Maine Photographic Workshops). It is an amazing experience to be immersed in photography (or filmmaking) for a full week, learning from some of the best in their fields, hanging out with a diverse group of people who share your passion, without the usual day-to-day distractions. Although the setting is relaxed, the pace is intense--simply because everyone there manages to get in their "creative zone" and stay there for an extended period of time. It is a transformational experience, and it's amazing just how much can be accomplished in a single week.

Want to know more about the workshop experience? Click on The Workshop Experience Video on the Maine Media Workshops home page for a great video that shows the Maine setting, the campus and classes as well as interviews with staff, instructors and students.

I will be teaching a garden photography workshop from July 19-25, and would love for you to join our group. If garden photography is not your interest, check out the other workshops. There are more than 200 workshops in still photography, filmmaking and bookmaking to choose from. Hope to see you in Maine this summer!

Photo ©2000 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved. View from "inside" a mature thread-leaf Japance maple.

The Hand of the Gardener

I often speak of showing "the hand of the gardener" in photographs. What I usually mean by this is conveying a sense of the gardener in the photograph, whether by including a garden element that helps reveal the gardener's personality or perhaps something "left behind" like a trowel, basket or coffee cup. In this case, the meaning is more literal, as I actually show the hands of the gardener. Dr. David Bradshaw, a horticulture professor at Clemson University, shows us some dried velvet beans (not edible) along with the foliage of a growing velvet bean plant in the University's heirloom vegetable garden.

Velvet beans, which were introduced in the late 1800s and once covered nearly a million acres of the South, were useful as a source of nitrogen, as feed for cattle and for erosion control. More recently, they have been recognized as valuable for nematode control.

 Photo ©2007 Lee Anne White. Photographed at Clemson University.

Fill the Frame

Closer isn't always better, but it's usually worth checking out. It forces you to look not only at the subject, but also its shape and how it works within the camera frame. In other words, it encourages you to think as a visual designer, not just as a gardener or horticulturist. By moving in close, we get to experience the intimate details of this lotus (Nelumbo 'Mrs. Perry D. Slocum'). And graphically, the image benefits as much from the negative space (the green, leafy areas surrounding the petals) as it does from the flower filling the frame and "bleeding" off all four sides.

Photo ©2008 Lee Anne White. Photographed at Longwood Gardens.

Choose a Dramatic Angle

It's a natural tendency to photograph a garden from eye level. But the most interesting images are often taken from other angles. In the case of these sunflowers, I set the camera up low and shot toward the sky--which, fortunately, was very blue this day. This helped emphasize the height of the plant and convey its habit of reaching skyward.

These are cutleaf coneflowers (Rudbeckia laciniata 'Herbstsonne') photographed at Longwood Gardens. Easy-to-grow perennials, they reach 4 to 7 feet tall and bloom June through August. Give them plenty of sun or they'll need staking.

Photo ©2008 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.

Move in Close

My favorite shots are often the simplest shots. Those where I can move in very close to my subject and just focus on the details that give it character. That was the case with this hedgehog plant (Agave stricta). Aptly named, I was first drawn to this plant not for the planting combination, flower, or shape of the plant, but for the spike-like foliage that does, truly, remind me of a hedgehog.

Photo ©2008 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved. Photographed at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Don't Overlook the Details

Whether you're setting an outdoor table or photographing it, don't overlook the details. As for setting the table, think layers--placemats, chargers, plates, something on the plates (whether napkins or a bundle of fresh herbs) glasses and something to give the setting some height.

And when it comes to photographing an outdoor dining area, shoot more than the table or outdoor room. Move in close and capture some of the details that give the setting personality.


Photos ©2008 Lee Anne White. Design: Frances Dixon.

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.

Use White Wisely

The whitest or brightest spot in any photograph will always command the most attention. It's where your eye will always settle. When it is a stray flower, litter, a plastic chair or other insignificant object, it can ruin an otherwise stunning photograph. So use white wisely--intentially making it the focal point of your photograph or allowing it to help direct the eye around the image or toward a focal point.

This carefully tended English-style garden surrounds a pool in Connecticut. White coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan') are the stars of the garden.

Photo ©2008 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved.

Capture the Gesture of Plants

Like people, plants convey a sense of gesture. For instance, these dogwood blossoms looked to me as if they were "dancing" in the wind. So I moved in close with a macro lens to fill the frame with petals facing different directions--but not so close as to crop out that sense of direction or movement. Giving them a little breathing space or "face room" was important as well.

Photo ©2007 Lee Anne White. All rights reserved. Cornus florida 'Decker' photographed at Yew Dell Gardens, Kentucky.

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.