Oh my goodness! I have been so lax in my blog posts this fall. I just realized I hadn't posted anything since August! It has indeed been a busy Fall/busy year, full of so many glorious things - frequent trips to Boston to spend time with family and my new granddaughter, conferences and speaking engagements, Lensbaby demos, as well as trying to honor my promise to myself that I faithfully carve out time for my own creative growth. It is so important as a teacher and an artist to take time for your own photography - a time to play, experiment and reenergize your creativity. That is exactly why I treated myself to three full days of blissful photographing at Longwood Garden near Philadelphia in late August. I love Longwood Gardens; you could not ask for a more beautiful garden full of wonderful subjects, friendly staff and incredible vistas at every turn. And thank you to two friends I treasure - Chung Kim and Mary Malinconico - who live relatively close to Longwood and met me to enjoy some shooting, too.
I timed my trip so that the dahlias would be in their glory. At Chicago Botanic Garden we did not have our usual array of dahlias because the Garden took on a Brazilian theme and areas that usually have plentiful dahlias were planted with tropical plants this summer. As a result, I was especially eager to photograph one of my favorite flowers at Longwood and they did not disappoint.
One of my stops on the first day was the Flower Garden Walk, an area teeming with 1000's of dahlias.
Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Canon 100mm Macro Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
As I was leaving Longwood after my first full day of shooting, a friendly volunteer stopped me to talk and ask about my photography. I told her how much I loved dahlias and she asked if I had visited the Trial Garden. Well, no, I hadn't gotten there that day but I had an hour until the Gardens closed, so I raced over. Oh my! Talk about dahlia heaven...rows and rows and rows of dahlias they were trying out for future planting! I had beautiful early evening light, so I got to work! I immediately knew where I was going to spend a good part of day two! It was there on the 2nd day that I ran into an Out of Chicago conference attendee, Helen Wagner, who happens to be a horticulturist at Longwood. Small world! Helen is one of those people you meet and can't help but love her immediately.
I am so drawn to dahlias with interesting curls. They have so much more personality. Although a dahlia show judge would tell you this is imperfect and would not even be included in a dahlia competition, it is pure perfection to me!
Canon 100mm Macro Canon 100mm Macro Canon 100mm Macro Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50 Optic and Macro Converters
Of course, the water lilies at Longwood captured my attention, as well. They have a magnificent display! The light was challenging while I was there, often too strong for photographing flowers without being able to diffuse them. I typically only shoot aquatic flowers on bright overcast days. I found plenty of flowers in more shaded areas to keep me happy. Most of my water lilies are shot with my Canon 70-300mm lens because they are farther away.
Lastly, in the Conservatory, which has endless subjects and is so large you can easily get lost, I spent a lot of time with the roses and ferns, two of my favorite subjects at any garden.
How perfect to find a rose with a heart in the center!
Canon 100mm Macro
Canon 100mm Macro Lensbaby Velvet 85mm Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
What a wonderful treat to spend 3 full days at such a beautiful garden! I intend to travel to Longwood more in the future and hopefully do some Out of Chicago workshops there. Stay tuned!
Next up: The National Dahlia Show at Chicago Botanic Garden! Imagine a flower show with 1000's of dahlias, all posed for photographing!