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Dahlia at Volunteer Park

Dahlia at Volunteer Park

“For dahlias give a jewel-like glow to the heart of the autumn garden, they are, in a mass, so resplendent.”
— Susan Hill, The Magic Apple Tree: A Country Year

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Volunteer Park Conservatory

Volunteer Park Conservatory

I spent a wonderful hour on Sunday wandering around Volunteer Park with my camera.  It was a beautiful, sunny fall day — resplendent — and people were out and about enjoying time with family and friends.  The dahlia garden was an outdoor showcase, but I enjoyed the various plants inside the conservatory, too.

Cacti

Cacti

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Foliage

Foliage

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The Gage Academy of Art was hosting a Drawing Jam in the park, and this time I just looked over the shoulders of the participants rather than taking up sketching myself.  A lost opportunity, really, but I was happy this time just photographing.

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Sometimes you just can’t beat a Sunday in the park in Seattle.

Leaves, staggered like wings awaiting take-off

Leaves, staggered like wings awaiting take-off, Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle

“If one decides upon the medium of photography, why attempt to soar in the realms of the imagination? . . . There are plenty of the subtleties of life right on the earth, which need delicate interpretation.”
—  Imogen Cunningham, After Ninety

” . . . a photographer who looks out on a scene.  At one moment it is what anyone else might notice, but almost imperceptibly through some reframing of it — some moment of it, some combination of it with something else, some perception of it — it becomes a picture.”
— David Travis, At the Edge of the Light:  Thoughts on Photography & Photographers, on Talent & Genius

Glass flowers by Jason Gamrath at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Glass flowers by Jason Gamrath at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

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The Volunteer Park Conservatory in Seattle is currently displaying some glass flowers by artist Jason Gamrath amidst their collection of exotic and not-so-exotic plants.  We went there expressly to see the glass art, but quite frankly, the glass flowers couldn’t hold a candle to Nature’s offerings.  The conservatory has done some remodeling since my last visit.  The seasonal room seemed less crowded and more open, making for a less chaotic experience.  The orchids are no longer behind glass.  Here’s a virtual tour:

Seasonal room, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Seasonal room, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas

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Cactus room

Cactus room

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Orchid

Orchid

Passion flower

Passion flower

Bromeliad room

Bromeliad room

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“Mistakes are the portals to discovery.”
— James Joyce

Embellishment, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Slightly blurred embellishment, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Cropped photo with HDR-ish and Duo-tone effects

Cropped photo with HDR-ish and Duo-tone effects

Here are a few of the out-takes from my photographing excursion to the Volunteer Park Conservatory.

I was inspired by Ellen J. Langer, who in her book On Becoming an Artist:  Reinventing Yourself through Mindful Creativity, encourages readers to keep going when they make mistakes, use them as portals of discovery and play, and to incorporate them into their work.

I generally don’t want to mess about with what I consider my more successful photos, but I often do wind up with blurred or otherwise unsatisfactory shots.  Rather than delete the ones from my Conservatory visit, I decided to stay with the images and play with some of Picasa’s photo-editing tools.  Here are the before and after images:

Curling leaves

Curling leaves

Curling leaves with posterized effect

Curling leaves with posterized effect

Plant from the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Plant from the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Photo with duo-tone, HDR-ish, and posterized effects

Photo with duo-tone, HDR-ish, and posterized effects

Blurred plant

Blurred plant

Saturated photo with HDR-ish and Lomo-ish effects

Saturated photo with HDR-ish and Lomo-ish effects

Trumpet flower, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Trumpet flower, Volunteer Park Conservatory

“The camera is an instrument that teaches people to see without a camera.”
— Dorothea Lange

“Cameras made the task of keeping a record of people and things simpler and more widely available, and in the process reduced the care and intensity with which people needed to look at the things they wanted to remember well, because pressing a button required less concentration and effort than composing a precise and comely drawing.”
— Michael Kimmelman, The Accidental Masterpiece:  On the Art of Life and Vice Versa

I am certainly guilty of often choosing the ease of photographing to the effort of drawing or sketching.  And while I have trained my eye over time to really see and pay attention to what I am photographing, it is true that I look differently when I am attempting to draw or paint.

To draw or paint means to carve out space, time, and materials (brushes, paper, water, good light, etc.), and that is cumbersome compared to snapping a quick photo with a portable device.  I can take photos with people around, but I like to draw or paint in solitude.  I like to think of my photographs as making art, equal in value to my drawings and paintings.

Something is gained by the ease of digital photographing, but something is lost, too.  I’m going to try to cultivate both ways of seeing and remembering.

Trumpet flowers with Lomo-ish effect

Trumpet flowers with Lomo-ish effect

Trumpet flower, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Trumpet flower, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Watercolor sketch of trumpet flower

Watercolor sketch of trumpet flower

“To make my days deserving of preservation, I have to give myself ample time for reflection and repose. . . . It feels as if such entries add an extra layer to living.”     — Wendy Lustbader, The Unexpected Pleasures of Growing Old

Rain on the glass at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

Rain on the glass at the Volunteer Park Conservatory

These short winter days slip by so quickly, especially if it’s rainy, dark, and gloomy.  Thank goodness this blog gives me the impetus to find something in my days to share with you, my readers.  Sometimes it’s just the excuse I need to see what’s happening at the Volunteer Park Conservatory, which is a heaven-sent destination on a rainy winter day.  The warm humid interior is a comforting contrast to the cold outdoors.  Even if I do have to wait for the fog to clear from my camera lenses!

My eyes were soothed by patterns and graceful, curving lines on this particular visit.  Here are a few photos:

Branching pattern with brilliant blue stem

Branching pattern with brilliant blue stem

Ferns with subtle purples and greens

Ferns with subtle purples and greens

Graceful leaves, almost translucent against the glass windows

Graceful leaves, almost translucent against the glass windows

Delicate beaded edges grace these cascading leaves

Delicate beaded edges grace these cascading leaves

Hanging pitcher plant

Hanging pitcher plant