Monday, 30 November 2009

UBC Botanical Garden & Macro Photography - Part 1

In an attempt to remain active this autumn, the Fella and I have been looking for ways to combine a bit of exercise with the things that we enjoy (photography) and that I have needed to do on a weekly basis (photography homework projects).

So a little while ago, we headed over to the University of British Columbia with our cameras and tripods to see if we could snap a few images of autumn while exploring their botanical garden.

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Just as background, the UBC Botantical Garden is a lovely mix of West Coast forest and lawned areas. It even has a little physic garden, a kitchen garden and a forest canopy walk (if you have a head for heights)! It is well worth a visit if you live in, or are visiting, Vancouver.


We really enjoyed our afternoon out in the gardens. It helped that we were really lucky with the weather. For me though, one of the best things about our walk was the idea it sparked for my macro photography class final project.

I cannot show you my whole project yet. I did not have time to photograph it before I handed it in. However, I can share the images that I submitted. To amuse you while you look at them, I have included a bit of chat between me and the Fella while we were taking the photographs.

As you may be able to tell from our banter, we are not botanical experts! However, the walk did generate a lot of discussion between us which led me to the idea for my final project. So it is sort of relevant!

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Me: Oooh Fella, come look at the inside of the flowers on this shrub - it is sort of looks like king scallops complete with roe or brains or something! I wonder what this shrub is, I cannot see a label for it.
Fella: Me either, we'll have to ask someone or look it up when we get home?

Fella: How many pictures of a water droplet on a berry do you really need to take?
Me: About just as many as you need to take of that extremely small brown bird in that very large, dead bush?!
Fella: Hey! I like birds. You are right though, this is one dead-looking bush - I wonder why it's here?
Me: Perhaps it does something really interesting in the Spring or the Summer?

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Fella: I do not like hydrangeas.
Me: I do. I find the one in our garden really difficult to photograph so I thought that I would give it a go here.

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Fella: I wonder who gets to eat these cabbages?
Me: (spots a sign) All of the produce goes to a local charity who distribute it.


Fella: These seed heads are amazing - I wonder what this plant looks like when it is flowering?
Me: Do you know? I am not sure. I wonder if we would recognise this plant at another time of year?

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Me: I like how there is still a lot of water around in the shade of the trees even though it is a sunny day.
Fella: Rainforest by name - rainforest by nature!

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Me: Crumbs look at this! Talk about determined, the rest of this Verbascum has died back but it is still trying to send up one final shoot - even though it is nearly November!
Fella: What's a Verbascum?

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Fella: Look at these metallic blue berries.
Me: Ooh, I love them.

(However, I did not love the composition of this image, so I went back to the garden two weeks later to reshoot it - only to find the tree devoid of any leaves or berries. They were all on the ground, in the mud underneath the tree. I had missed them!)

Fella: (reading a sign) Dead Man's Fingers.
(looks up and sounds disappointed) I cannot see anything?
Me: Here! Look, here's one! It's split open and you can see its 'seeds in a thick viscous, edible pulp!
Fella: Urgh, that's horrible - I wouldn't eat that!
Me: (laughing) Just think, if you had not been here today, you might not have ever seen one and known what it was like!

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Fella: I don't like hydrangeas. Why are you photographing another one?
Me: Just to annoy you.
Fella: Really?!
Me: No, of course not but if you complain again, I'm going to look for a third one to photograph!

At this point, your two not-so-intrepid botanists from Vancouver retired gracefullyfrom the gardens in search of a warm place serving hot coffee!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Bits and Bobs

As I am focused on getting a final project together for one of my photography classes (more about this another time) and we seem to have spent the best part of the past three weeks succumbing to, enduring and getting over a persistent sort of cold (not flu), there has not been much crafting or blogging over the past few weeks. Just about the only things (of very minor note) that have taken place recently are my birthday and Halloween (not on the same day).

My birthday was very quiet. I received some greeting cards, an Amazon voucher, some photography related presents from the Fella and two very fabulous bunches of flowers:

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They have really made a lovely splash of colour at home and brightened my sprits while it has been pouring down with rain outside over the past two weeks. The flowers on the left are from some of my younger siblings and the flowers on the right are from my in-laws.

Just as an aside, I'd like to highlight the little tablecloth under the vase. Click if you would like to see bigger images. This was a wedding present from my Italian host family's Albanian foster daughter (which is a connection that is far too complicated for me to explain). It was handmade for us by her grandmother in Albania. I do not think that I have never been given anything handmade like this before, so it is really special - I love how well it goes with the cherry dining table that the Fella made last year.

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Not that I can see myself risking this gift being on our table during meals - in fact it was time for a family meal with the Kid shortly after I took these pictures, so I plucked it away to safety:


Oops! In a flash, I was taken back to my childhood and visits to my grandmother's house. I am sure that I remember things like this draped over armrests plus the back of her sofa and armchairs. Ngg.

Here are my photography presents from the Fella in action:

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As a hint, these pictures of my September sewing club output (isn't it sweet?) were taken in my North facing studio with the lights switched off! Yup, photography lights - very useful for Vancouver's dark, damp, grey winters.

As the Kid was here for the Hallow'een weekend, we held our annual pumpkin carving contest:


However, no winner could be announced as we were all far too biased towards our own pumpkins!

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See what I mean? Mind you, I guess that it is just as well that that no prize was awarded as our pumpkins were just not scary enough to keep away the Trick or Treaters. We had an endless stream of children at our front door between 5pm - 9pm. Last year, I think that we were still eating the left-over Halloween candy at Christmas. This year we almost ran out of sweets to give away. We were down to doling it out, one fun sized bar at a time.

It was a bit nerve racking. The children all looked to be very sweet in their Halloween outfits but who knows what tricks they might have had up their costumed sleeves!