Saturday, January 5, 2013

Winter Cures: Bones, Berries, and Post-Processing

It was two days before Christmas, when I started trying to write this blog post, and no snow in sight. Like this old barn, the world outside my window looked cold, beaten, plain, and stubborn. 

Without snow or even sub-freezing temperatures, the plants were confused. Well, they're hardly confused. They just react to what is, and what IS--still--is a very grey autumn in winter:  lots of empty branches but a defiant few with dead yet clinging leaves. I could go on about how they are like an elderly grande dame, clinging to her faded youth with too much makeup and an inappropriate d├ęcolletage, but I won't.
This spirea would be perfect for autumn but right now just seems to be trying too hard.  

At least these Caryopteris seed heads have the right idea:  browns (crispy browns) after Thanksgiving are de rigueur.

I've been looking at how others approach their gardens in winter, how they use the mostly leafless landscape to reveal the "bones" of the garden: the basic shapes and structures hidden for most of the year by the leaves and flowers and even fruit we buy plants for. And yet I must admit I don't have the stomach for photographing my garden's anatomy. 

It seems intrusive: naked and asleep, who would welcome a prying camera?  And, yes, bones reveal the garden's internal architecture, but x-rays are really only interesting to radiologists and then only if something is very very wrong. And even when I repressed my natural disinclination, my shots of bare branches looked like shots of bare branches. Nothing revealing or even titillating. Just chaotic lines crisscrossing my (almost) monochromatic beds.  

However, fruited branches are another matter, and, with Beautyberry (Callicarpa ssp), the fruit is probably one of the only reasons to photograph (or grow) the plant. Nothing like a little neon purple to wake up the color sensors. 

And add water droplet and you've got another dimension.
But it's raining (again), so it's time to settle in for some post-processing. My distractions of choice are Lightroom 4 dot whatever and Photoshop Elements 10. By the way, no one, and I mean NO ONE, is better at teaching Lightroom than Laura Shoe.  I keep her DVDs by my computer because they are they best resource I've found.  A link to her website can be found on the left under the list of "Blogs I Follow." PSE is something I'm always in the process of learning, but, as yet, I am still guru-less on that front. 

Now please understand, I'm not into putting rose heads on sunflower plants or cat-heads on dogs. But most photographs (at least, most of my photographs) need a little tweaking, particularly if you shoot in raw mode.  But it's winter, and sometimes you just have to turn things upside-down just to shake loose the ideas.

So I'll end with a dull view of our pond and its anchored raft on a dull winter's day.

And if you invert it you get something out of Dr. Who
All I did was crop and flip and diddle with the color and lighting.  Nothing added.
Sometimes you've just got to amuse yourself when your garden won't cooperate.


  1. I love beautyberry! It is only marginally hardy where I live, but I'm tempted to plant one or more anyway. Nice blog, by the way! I look forward to seeing more of your photography.

  2. Thank you so much, Jason! I really appreciate it. And I'm about 50/50 when it comes to marginals (50% live and 50%, well, you know). But sometimes I just take it as a personal challenge :-)

  3. Your best blog to date! Still trying to wrap my ahead around the Pond pics. When you get to the next Doctor in the series you'll appreciate the pun.

  4. Thank you Dee Dee! I look forward to it.

  5. Lovely shots, what do you mean you are not talented with landscape? I love that barn shot, and the clouds...

    How do you like your camera?


    1. Hi Jen, Thank you! But those are rare. Your snow shots are so strong and . . . cold! Really effective. Yes, I love my Canon EOS 60D. Even with the same-sized image sensor, it's definitely an improvement over the Rebel XTi I was using. And a full-frame model is just a bit out of my league.
      What do you shoot with?

  6. Beautyberry... my favorite, especially in Winter. Which it definitely is in my gardens.

  7. I agree, Carolyn. In winter, we really need that pop of color!

  8. A really nice gardening blog! - Keep us up to date on what is happening on your Garden Blog
    It would be great to see you over at the Blooming Gardening Blogs Community.

  9. Very appealing photo of the heron! I have never seen the herons visit our pond once it has frozen over!

  10. Thanks Jayne! I was pretty surprised myself.