Sometimes it’s worth going back for that second shot.
A couple of weeks ago, I went out to photograph in the streets of Easthampton and caught some gorgeous dandelions hanging out in the sun right outside of my apartment. I snapped a few shots off without any real thought besides…oh…pretty seeds in macro…and went on my way. Later afternoon when I was looking through my captures, I was fascinated by the dandelion shots but they weren’t quite right. The focus wasn’t anywhere close to perfect and on a macro, shot, focus is everything.
I went back out and of course, being dandelions on a windy day (see also: it is always a windy day in Easthampton) they had changed completely in shape and form. In fact, they were changing before my eyes as the wind blew more and more seeds off of each blossom. Counting my blessings I shot and shot.
Living out in Western Massachusetts and consorting with the general type of people that I do, I know a few different people who have taken up urban farming in the last couple of years. I had the opportunity to photograph guinea fowl in fresh snow last Thanksgiving, which was extraordinary. There are only so many moments in life – seize the fish.
Monday was comprised of tiny baby chickens that were just beginning to grow real feathers on the tips of their wings and violets in my best friend’s backyard. That is urban farming bliss right there. It’s Spring so the water is roaring out of the Holyoke Dam and there are cars driving by constantly and the cries of children from the park add up to make their own music, but somewhere in there it is just me and a baby chicken who is mildly terrified of the patches of violets growing out of the gated in area of the backyard.
It started out as a joke, I posted on Facebook that I wanted to photograph the same lilac bush every day until my birthday. But minutes later after I had typed #lilacdiaries, I knew that I had to put my money where my mouth was and follow through on my threat/promise. It seems simple enough, the lilac bushes are four houses down the street, but this was also the birthday weekend of a big one – 35. I had a constant flow of people in my house and activities and go beyond birthday celebrations as my 5 year anniversary with my husband two days later.
Still, I went eight straight days of photographing the same bush, taking an average of 25-50 shots in a day. I’m still enamored with my 100mm macro lens, so a lot are shot very tightly into the subject. I tried to vary depth of focus and lighting to keep them as different from one another as possible and intentionally ignored how I may have edited past photos when considering the new days shots.
As a mid-May baby, my birthday has often coincided with Mother’s Day and in my family, those two holidays are celebrated as one. This year has been hard, my Father had some heart problems recently and we’re all a bit frazzled, but it was so nice to have my husband offer on his own to come over early on Sunday and put in the raised beds that my Father was supposed to have built for my Mother. As the two of them worked, I stepped outside to commune an apple tree that their neighbor recently planted.
I must tell you the truth before I share the photo – there is a frightening lack of pollinators among our wild flowers this year and we are going to pay for it. I have been seeing some bumbles here and there but almost no honeybees. Please people, if you have the room and the inclination, keep bees. They are really important to our growing cycles, essential really. They are the Mother’s of agriculture.
I’m a May baby and a New Englander, so to me my birthday will always be rhubarb and lilacs. It has always bothered me that since I moved out of the hill towns where I grew up, the lilac season is often over slightly BEFORE my birthday. Are you seeing the one upside to this horrendously late Spring that we’ve been having this year?
Two days ago, on venturing out into the wide world that is Easthampton, I encountered a surprise lilac bush in my neighbors front yard. It looked like this:
Yesterday the flowers were just beginning to open.
Now if they can hold on for four more days I would be a very, very happy photographer (and May baby.)
I feel like the Spring is getting away from me because right now, this very second, it is happening. All at once. Last year it happened over two months, this year it’s May and 80 degrees outside with virtually no warning. I have been trying to catch the magnolia trees before the blossoms die, but showing at a fair in Springfield, MA made that fairly difficult. I got to see a lot of flowering trees amid the mill city grunge, but didn’t have time to photograph them. Thankfully, I was able to go outside for a short while and wander around the Cottage St. Cultural District of Easthampton.
Found some beautiful magnolia trees but was most impressed with the Bleeding Hearts that were growing in shaded spot on the side of the road. My first photograph was meant to be dreamy and reminiscent of a field drawing.
In my second, I was trying to play with the absurdity of the plant itself. Here I experiment with color and texture to make it fairy-like, otherworldly.