Tag Archives: photography

Early morning garden photos

After a morning of panic because my son slept through two alarms and then awe at his ability to shower, shave, get dressed and eat breakfast in 7 minutes and then seeing him off to the high school bus after ensuring there were no clowns hanging at the edge of the woods with Snickers bars, I grabbed my camera and took the following photos.

Hope you enjoy.

front-bed-fall

 

fog-front-bed-flame

 

fog-flame-grass

 

foggy-morning-panicum

 

indian-panicum-grass

 

spider-web

 

panicum-fog

 

bee-balm-webs

 

andropogon-grass-fog

 

blonde-grass-fog

 

driveway-bed-fog-pennisetum

 

driveway-bed

 

 

 

Samsung Galaxy 7 pics on Instagram

My new Samsung Galaxy 7 phone should really be called a camera that has telephonic capabilities. I can take unbelievable macro shots with this phone and here are a few for your viewing pleasure.

Good times

This is a great time of year, even if there is a threat of snow this weekend here in New Jersey. A few bulbs have quietly bloomed, baseball is inching closer to meaningful games and that little juggernaut known as March Madness has arrived.

This past week, I finally took the plunge and bought myself a telephoto lens for my Nikon 5200 (this one). I’ve been threatening to do so for a long time so I could capture the kids in action during baseball/softball and so I could also grab some better pics of the wildlife in my backyard (like this guy who is aiding in our fight against PennEast). I am very excited to experiment and up my photography cred.

I’m not a “read the instructions guy” so there will be a lot of trial and error with this new lens in my arsenal. And that trial and error began yesterday with the few aforementioned blooms in the Markowski garden. I’ve always relied on the macro lens for my garden pics and it’s done me well. But now I’m ready to expand my horizons to see what the telephoto lens has to offer.

So first we took a photo of some Crocus blooms using the macro lens:

crocus

And then from a greater distance using the telephoto lens:

crocus 3

On to the newly emerging Daffodil blooms. First the macro lens:

daffodil 2

And then further away with the telephoto lens:

daffodil

I’ve got a lot to learn, but a lot to experiment with over the next few months and I look forward to blowing all of your minds with my new found camera skills. Feel free to critique at will.

Beyond the new blooms from the Crocus and Daffodil bulbs, there are other signs that spring has arrived. Here is one of the few Viburnum buds that the deer left alone this winter:

viburnum bud

And an Allium that arrived just yesterday:

allium emerging

And finally the arrival of the Summer Snowflake bulbs:

bulbs

Good times indeed.

One final note. While I may skip out on the college basketball season November through February, I make up for it with my excitement during NCAA March Madness. I’ve been known to fill out a bracket or eight and this year the entire family is in on it. If by chance the University of Virginia manages to win the entire thing, just know there will be a big bash and you are all invited.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

Smaller moments captured

I want to talk about the smaller moments today.

But first, hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and long weekend. I’ll spare you the turkey jokes because I know I’m done with them. We had a great time with our families, ate some damn good grub and enjoyed a nice and relaxed pace for a few days. Just what the doctor ordered.

We took a bunch of photos and I considered sharing some of them here … but then I fell asleep trying to pull it together. No seriously, I literally dozed off in the middle of a photo review. Not that the photos were bad or that supremely dull, but I just find myself more and more disinterested in staged photos. Sure, it’s great to have a shot of the family eating together at Thanksgiving, but I want more than that.

Which now leads to today’s very important message …

The kids love watching old home videos. While it is a pain in the ass to hook up our archaic and bulky equipment in order to play these videos, it is worth the effort just to watch them giggle or hide their face in embarrassment. They are the only movies we can all agree to watch together right now without incident so another reason to throw them on from time to time.

And now I’ll try my best not to cry thinking about them as little ones.

Sniff. Sniff.

We recently had another request to get out the old family films and because we are award winning parents, we obliged. Out came the box of cassettes and the obnoxiously large video recorder machine and we were well on our way. I was given the choice of first video to be played (imagine that) and began to leaf through the options: Christmas 2007, Easter 20006, Jack’s Birthday 2004, First Day of School 2010. As I contemplated my options, I came to a realization that bothered me a bit … and then bothered me a lot.

While we had all of the so called major occasions covered, we were missing the beautifully mundane day to day stuff, the smaller moments.

I wish we had captured, I don’t know, day 26 of the 2009 school year once the morning routine had been established. I have very little recollection of how we operated. I’d even like to know what the kids preferred for breakfast back then.

I wish we had captured the “time to go to bed routine” back in 2007. I vaguely remember needing to find my daughter under a pile of blankets before she was carried upstairs to bed.

I wish we had captured the intense indoor basketball games between me and my son in 2008. I’m pretty sure I dominated him with my array of three pointers.

I understand the need to capture the holidays and all of those key “life moments”, when typically, the entire family is together and everyone is in a joyous mood. But we way underrate the “normal” day to day events. Those smaller moments are so easily lost in our cluttered and aging minds, but they really are the building blocks of our lives. They are times and details I want to vividly remember and in order to do so, they need to be captured by the latest and greatest recording device.

A perfect example of this: since she first learned to walk, my daughter loves to stand on my feet and have me walk around the house. It may now raise my heart rate to dangerous levels since she is so much bigger, but I love it to death. And thankfully, my wife caught it in action without either of us being aware of it.

the smaller moments

That my friends, is the perfect photo (and no, not because the camera tricks you into believing I have a fantastic looking beard).

The pic is candid and captures a moment in time that we’ll now cherish forever. No holiday pose or forced “moment”, just a snapshot of my nine year old daughter still enjoying her father’s presence.

Sniff. Sniff.

As I started to piece together this post, I looked back through all of our photos from the past few years and realized I’ve failed miserably in capturing the smaller moments, aka the spontaneous day to day events in our lives. Plenty of plant photos of course, and a ton of vacation shots, but nothing like the moments I’ve just waxed poetic about.

But my wife nailed it a bunch of times because you know, she kicks some major booty.

Here is my daughter still in her dress-up phase from a few years back.

DSC_1440

She had no idea this was being taken and I’m so thankful that it was captured on film. Those dress-up days are already in the rear view but we’ll have this reminder forever.

My son had a Minecraft phase a few years back but I’m not sure I would clearly remember this a few years from now. Again, kudos to my wife for picking up on this.

the smaller moments

So while we’ll always take those large family shots around the holidays.

tday

I want to make a concerted effort to photograph the fact that I still carry each of the children on my back up to bed each night.

I want to capture the routine of my wife making from-scratch-pancakes each and every Sunday morning.

I want to document the much more subtle and understated celebrations of the kids 1/2 birthdays.

Maybe most of you are more evolved than I am and have been on top of these moments with your respective families. If so, you rock. But for me, I know my goal is to now be mega aware of capturing these smaller moments in time. The kids are 13 and 10 right now and those precious kid years are diminishing way too fast.

Photographing the garden

For reasons unknown, I never took one photo of any of my gardens before I started this blog back in February of 2010. I have no idea why, other than the fact that I never felt that the garden was camera worthy … which it probably wasn’t.

It would have been too much of a shot against my fragile ego to reveal how the camera interpreted my mess of a plant collection. I was young and weak and easily defeated. But damn, what an opportunity I missed to evolve as a gardener.

The minute I took the very first photo of my current garden over five years ago, everything changed. I never looked at my garden the same again. It literally brought out a dimension to the garden I had failed to see before. It inspired me to try new things and to appreciate subtle changes in light or how I could play off of the early morning or late afternoon light. And don’t even get me started about the post rain garden. That shit was awesome. Suddenly I was an artiste.

This morning, I found the article I have linked to below, which sums up my aforementioned feelings about garden photogrpahy better than I ever could. Check it out:

“How Garden Photography Can Make You a Better Gardener”

For those who aren’t doing so already, I highly recommend getting down and dirty and snapping all sorts of pics in your garden regardless of its size. It will do wonders to your appreciation of what you’ve got going on and will inspire you in ways you can’t imagine.

Even now I often find myself taking the same photographs of the garden from the most commonly viewed angles. It’s nice and all, but once I get creative and take it all in from a different view, true inspiration kicks in.

With all this in mind, here are 5 different shots of the same section of my garden. While the photos aren’t dramatically different, they are all interesting in their own way. I like a lot of what I see but I have to admit, these photos have already provided me with ideas for plants I can add and sigh, move to a new location.

Enjoy.

driveway bed

 

driveway bed 4

 

driveway bed 5

 

driveway bed 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My new Nikon D5200 camera

I took the leap this past week and finally purchased my first DSLR camera. I had been doing research for quite a while and settled on the Nikon D5200. Holy crap there is a lot to learn, but I am going to have a ton of fun playing around with it.
I had taken a camera lesson a little over a year ago with my homie Tony Granata, so I know enough about aperture and shutter speed to be dangerous, but now I am ready to put that knowledge to use. I have another lesson scheduled with Tony in the near future and I’m banking on him educating me even more on my camera’s capabilities. Good friggin times!
I did venture out a bit this weekend with the new camera and I’m happy with the results. I won’t lie, I mainly used the “auto” function with a bit of experimentation on the sports and landscape modes but soon enough I’ll be utulizing all of the options. 
The camera came with an 18-105mm lens which already blows away what I had to work with on the old camera. Of course, I am already yearning for some other lenses so I can zoom in on my birds, but we’ll take it slow for now.         
On to the pics:
The first chance to break out the new camera was at my daughter’s softball game and it couldn’t have been a nicer day:         

The “sports” mode is fantastic and I didn’t have to adjust for lighting at all:

Next stop was my son’s baseball game but I ended up being too nervous to even take the camera out. Yes, I’m that annoying parent who takes it all too seriously.

Speaking of taking it seriously, my son was in the backyard after his game practicing his pitching (I swear I didn’t push him) so I had some time to take some photos of his form:

Back in the house and I used the “portrait” function on my favorite subject. I like the results a lot as the skin color is way better than what I would get on the old camera:

Later that afternoon it was on to the plants.

First off, Geranium ‘Espresso’ with some newly formed buds:

A shot of my front bed and I can already appreciate how all of the plants are in focus which was virtually impossible in the past: 

A field of dandelions (aka my entire lawn):

Trying to capture the Summer Snowflakes backlit by the sun:

That is all I got for now but you can be assured there will be some serious photography coming your way each and every day now.

I gotz the itch and it ain’t stoppin any time soon.

John 

From a different angle

I’ve been a “hardcore” gardener for about twelve years now. 
“Hardcore” meaning I eat, sleep and drink all things plants and dirt. 
I’m not sure if I’m more amazed that it’s been that long or that it has been that short of a stretch of time. It seems like it all started a long time ago yet it has gone so damn fast. Sorry, I am consumed with time and my age of late, as the big 40 approaches. But enough about me …
… actually, more about me. What I now find fascinating about my gardening self (narcissism anyone?) is that I never took as much as one photo of any of my gardens until I started this blog a little over two years ago. What was I thinking? That is ten years of my history that can never be recovered. The world is missing out.  
OK, truth is, most of those old garden photos would make me cringe in embarrassment. I still remember planting a bunch of Verbena in a perfect line, like a group of soldiers, thinking “This gardening thing isn’t as difficult as everyone makes it out to be”. If I had documented my early gardening days, I could have easily lead a class on how not to create a visually stimulating garden. 
So what’s my point for today? I’m not really sure … I actually have forgotten as I type this. Oh yeah, I wanted to talk about how obsessively photographing my garden has allowed me to enjoy it in ways I never imagined. 
My dopey friend had recently asked me “Seriously, haven’t you run out of photo opportunities in your garden at this point?”. I may have agreed with him before I started this blog but now I clearly realize you can never run out of photo ops. Plants are changing/evolving week by week or even day by day and that alone gives you an unlimited pool of photo options. 
What I’ve also realized now, more than ever, is that when taking into account unique and different viewpoints/angles at which a garden can be photographed, the garden gains so much more “depth”. These viewpoints/angles not typically viewed by “Joe Passerby” have opened the door to so much more and keep me coming back for more.      
So though we are technically still in early spring, there is no shortage of interesting and captivating plant activity. Even if I have to lay on my stomach or climb a tree to view it. Here are some recent samples:                                      
Spring bulbs at their peak, emerging perennial foliage and evergreens fully recovered from the winter, look good as I walk up my front walkway (actually as I lay down on my front walkway):   

Creeping phlox just coming into bloom and falling over a copper colored stone I dug up on my property a few years back (taken while holding on to a tree with one leg):

Color me crazy, but I love the simple contrast of vibrant green foliage and a textured stone (some how taken while lying on my side and avoiding squashing multiple plants):

Loving the temporary color contrast between the Catmint and Astilbe foliage (which will change to a deep green in a few weeks). Skillfully snapped while performing a full blown squat:

When I step out of my garage, this is what I see directly to my right (photographed with one foot in the garage while in a yoga pose). I love how the Calamagrostis ‘El Dorado’ grasses shine so early in the spring. I need more “cool season” grasses. Also love observing the foliage change from bronze to bright green/chartreuse on the Thuja ‘Rheingold’:  

I’m knee deep in a blue foliage obsession right now and for whatever reason, I like this blue juniper as a backdrop to the Leucojums (snapped from deep in my garage). Also loving that the juniper is not quite hiding the propane tank behind it. Nice touch of orange, eh?:

Have a great weekend and garden your ass off!

John

Just me and my camera

OK, so I’m getting a bit obsessive with the camera, specifically, the “shutter speed” function. I constantly make the kids perform all sorts of acrobatic acts just so I can try and snap them in action. 
My son will never be confused with Evil Knievel (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree) but I actually convinced him to jump off our swings as I took his picture from numerous angles. Here’s one of the better ones:     

With out a chance to rest, I got out our baseball gloves and threw him ball after ball as I tried to take a photo with my free hand. It was a great test of my hand/eye coordination and I struggled a bit at first but eventually came around:  

The kids ran for cover inside the house when I got distracted with all of the bird activity:

Fine, if they don’t want to participate, me and my trusty camera will hang and walk around the yard on our own.

The weather was in the high 60’s all weekend long and the plant growth continues to continue at a super rapid pace. Our zone 6 winter has been more like a zone 8 winter and that is fine with me.

All of the hydrangeas are beginning to leaf out:

The daffodils are weeks ahead of where they were last year:

And my precious Sedum ‘Red Carpet’ exploded over night:

But most of all, I am eagerly anticipating the blooms of the Winterberry ‘Autumn Brilliance’:

I am starting to worry that my current camera won’t cut it as I learn more and more about the available advanced settings and some of the limitations. I might have to sell off some of the kids valuables to purchase a new one.

Some day they’ll understand why after I become a world famous nature photographer and I leave them with a hefty trust fund.

John