EXPOSURE MANIPULATION TO HIGHLIGHT THE WONDERFUL EXUBERANCE OF ONE PLANT IN THE WOODS
We spent a few days in Seattle with old college friends, and all I got was a few walks in the woods, which was a wonderful way to spend our time. The fact that these woods were not out in the boonies somewhere, but were in fact almost entirely created by landscape architects, gardeners, and volunteers made them even more special in some ways. In a world where mankind seems to just muck things up, it's nice to find places where we cultivate and celebrate nature instead of paving it over.
CONTRAST IN LIGHT LEVELS BRINGS OUT THE FOREST'S CHARACTER
SOMEHOW I DON'T THINK THE STANDARD PLANTING DISTANCES APPLIED HERE
I've consulted the dictionary to try to find the difference between a garden, versus a botanical garden, versus an arboretum. The overall category of garden is defined as a planned space set aside for the cultivation, display, and enjoyment of plants. Its singular identifier is control by design, no matter how "natural" it is made to appear. The secondary identifier is the need for enclosure, in a space set aside for unnatural nature. A botanical garden is a type of garden which is a documented collection of plants for the purpose of scientific research, conservation, and display. An arboretum is defined as a more specialized botanical collection composed almost exclusively of trees of a variety of species. In the real world of course, these categories of "gardens" are not as rigid, and can vary considerably even in the same category.
INSIDE A WEEPING WILLOW
ANOTHER TAKE GIVING IN TO THE UNIQUE CHAOS OF BEING INSIDE SUCH A LARGE "WEEPING" TREE
We toured two arboretums in the past two days. One was unknown, the pride of a small Seattle exurb called Maple Valley at the edge of the Seattle metro area. It was beautiful, unexpected, and the result of fifty years of volunteer efforts by this small community. The other was the world famous University of Washington Arboretum, almost one hundred years old and so large that a four-hour visit only scratched the surface. While both of these collections did not feature planted beds of flowers, they contained enough flowering trees to satisfy most blossom fans. The major difference was that the larger garden was twice as old, so the trees were larger, and instead of having one or two examples of a species Washington Park Arboretum would have half a dozen. But what was interesting to me was that both Seattle examples seemed to me much more "designed" than Portland's Arboretum, which is much more natural even though it is clearly a collection too. In Portland I have the feeling of walking through a woodland very similar to Forest Park except that there are obviously examples of non-native species.
CAPTURING COLOR IN A WOODLAND CONTEXT
In any case these "gardens", while certainly resembling natural woodlands, are as designed as Central Park, formerly a barren wasteland north of old New York. In fact, Central Park, Seattle's Washington Arboretum, and Portland's Laurelhurst Park were all designed by several generations of the Olmstead family of landscape architects, something that is readily apparent to anyone lucky enough like me to have now spent time in each one. About the only thing you can count on as "natural" is the general lay of the land, except that even that is not true - even the lakes, streams, and hills were not necessarily found there by the designers.
TRANQUILITY ON A MAN-MADE LAKE WITH NATURAL REFLECTIONS
This small collection of images show the range of views possible in a few hours. They constitute less than 10% of what I captured on those days, and as usual all have been vastly improved with small doses of post-processing. I have attempted to study the light present in these woods, looking for the contrast that will bring some order out of the "natural" chaos of even a man-made woodland. While I tried my usual strategies of concentrating on the details, I also experimented with several more abstract takes on Paradise. I even used the sharpening and clarity tools in reverse to achieve some "painterly" images, at least for me.
USING REFLECTIONS TO REFLECT UPON THE BEAUTY OF THE ABSTRACT
To this uneducated observer the major difference between these various manifestations of paradise is that the arboretum requires a more extended time frame - your are planting trees for God's sake, and your visions might not be realized for long after you came up with the original or modified plan. In that way they resemble cathedrals which were generational undertakings whose construction lasted long after the original king's reign. In our age of short attention spans and inability plan for an all-too-apparent future, places like these arboretums both make me wonder whether we could accomplish these ambitious plans today, but also give me hope that all is not lost. These people were just as flawed and petty as we are, yet they did at least start great things. We must not give up our long-range dreams to the current crisis of the day. Your photographs can honor their efforts with your unique vision.