Thank you for visiting my blog. Much of this blog is dedicated to my passion for photographing the ever-changing palette at The Chicago Botanic Garden. I am fortunate to live within a few miles of this magnificent garden and I spend several days a week walking, observing and photographing the beauty this 385-acre slice of heaven offers. For me the beauty is in the details - the colors, the patterns, the tiny things that might otherwise be missed. Photography in general, but particularly nature and macro photography, teaches you to slow down and look at the world up-close, to observe the mysteries and wonders Mother Nature provides us.
"The contemplation of beauty causes the soul to grow wings." ~ Plato
Spring is finally here to stay and it's my favorite time of year for flower photography. After a long winter, it's exhilarating to be outside witnessing the earth come back to life and capturing that beauty in photographs. Tulips are about to bloom in the midwest and are already in bloom in other parts of the country. I've posted a new article on Visual Wilderness with some tips for capturing tulips in a more impactful and artistic way. Check out the article here. Get out and enjoy the emergence of spring!
I'm excited to be presenting this year at the NECCC Photography Conference in Amherst, MA, July 12-14. It's a fantastic line-up of presenters and I'm delighted and honored to be among them. I'll be sponsored by Lensbaby and along with my presentations on Lensbaby and flower photography, I'll be giving hands-on sessions with lots of Lensbaby lenses to try. I'll be presenting a program called "Creative Flower Photography: Unleashing the Creative Spirit Through Lensbaby" and another "Capturing Stunning Images of Some of the Most Beloved Flowers: Tulips, Waterlilies, Dahlias and Orchids." In addition I'll be leading a pre-conference workshop at Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. It's going to be a wonderful weekend of learning and I hope you'll consider attending this wonderful conference.
This has been a particularly long and cold winter in Chicago. By the end of February, most people have had enough and are eagerly counting days until spring arrives. I've heard grumblings that the beloved groundhog, Punxsutanwney Phil, got it all wrong and should jailed for fraud. Typically it doesn't feel like spring until well into April here in our area. For me, the blooming of the crocuses mark the arrival of the flower season, and the tulips follow soon after. Meanwhile, as we patiently wait, we are fortunate to have several flower shows in our area that give us some respite from the cold outdoors and make us feel like spring has arrived.
Chicago Botanic Garden's Orchid Show, "Into the Tropics," has been going on since mid-February and lasts until March 24. The tropical theme this year makes you feel like you have stepped into a tropical paradise filled with beautiful orchids. It's the perfect place to practice your orchid photography. Orchids are the most difficult of flowers to photograph. Lighting in the exhibit can be challenging and it is hard to find good compositions and clean backgrounds. Chicago Botanic Garden has Tuesday morning tripod hours for photographers; otherwise, you can't use a tripod in the exhibit and this can make capturing these exotic and complex beauties difficult. For some tips on photographing orchids please read my recent article on the Visual Wilderness website.
A few images captured at this year's show:
Phalaenopsis Orchid, 100mm macro
Phalaenopsis Orchid, 180mm macro
Phalaenopsis Orchids, 100mm macro
The Lincoln Park Conservatory in the heart of Lincoln Park just north of the city, has a wonderful spring flower show that lasts until May 12. It's very creatively done with the addition of some "singing" egg cups in their water features. The exhibit features flowering trees, bushes, spring bulbs, azaleas, camellias, calla lilies, hellebores, and much more. LPC's orchid collection is quite impressive right now, as well.
Cymbidium Orchids, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
Hellebore, Lensbaby Sol 45mm
I have to admit, my favorite show this spring is "Understory: Layers of Light" at Garfield Park Conservatory. This is the most beautiful flower show I've seen – the layers of trees, flowering bushes, tree trunks, moss, ferns, fungus and, of course, an abundance of flowers – is so creatively done. Each time I go I am discovering new things I did not see in previous visits. All the flowers are beautiful, but the collection of ranunculus, also known as Persian Buttercups, really steals the show. The show runs until May 12 and is worth several visits.
Of course, I can't go to Garfield without a visit to the Fern Room and the Desert House, two of my favorite places to photograph year-round. The Agave americana plant in the Desert House has sent up its impressive stalk and it is quickly approaching the glass roof. The grand finale will be the flowering of the stalk, then the plant will begin to die. Watch this fascinating interview about the agave on WTTW's Chicago Tonight, featuring one of my favorite people at Garfield, horticulturist Ray Jorgensen.
Tulip, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm
Same tulip, different perspective, Lensbaby Sol 45mm
Ranunculus or Persian Buttercup, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
Ranunculus Curves, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm
Hellebore, Lensbaby Sol 45mm
Enjoy some spring indoors until the real spring arrives outdoors. It won't be long but I am so grateful that our great city of Chicago has so many opportunities for us flower enthusiasts to keep doing what we love to do even when it's snowy and cold outside. Thank you, Chicago Botanic Garden, Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory! You each are true gems in our city!
I'll be presenting again this year at Hazel Meredith's Creative Photography Conference in Southbridge, MA, May 18-19. I loved this conference last year and I am thrilled to be returning. The conference features wonderful presenters, lots of hands-on learning, small and intimate atmosphere in a beautiful hotel. I'll be presenting about creative flower photography and Lensbaby lenses and I'll have lots of lenses for people to try during several hands-on sessions. Everyone that attended last year loved the conference and Hazel and her husband, Dave, do an excellent job organizing and running it. I have a special discount code Belmont25 for $25 off the $350 registration fee, good until 3/31/19. Hope you'll join us for a wonderful weekend of creativity and learning!
My new eBook is available for purchase now at Visual Wilderness. Through March 7th you can buy the book at 20% off for $19.95 and it includes a second wonderful book "Details and Macro" by two photographers I greatly admire – Jay and Varina Patel of Visual Wilderness.
What You’ll Learn:
As a flower photographer, Anne is passionate about Lensbaby lenses and the way they help her create evocative and impactful images in her work. This book serves to provide all the technical information and tips to help you master the use of the most popular Lensbaby lenses for flower photography. It also provides general flower photography tips to inspire you to photograph flowers in a more artistic and creative way.
Lenses covered in Creative Flower Photography eBook include:
Anne bought her first Lensbaby lens in 2013 – the original Composer with a Double Glass Optic – in an effort to find a more creative way to photograph flowers. Since then Lensbaby has added many new products to their line-up, and one or another of these lenses are on Anne’s camera most of the time. These lenses help her capture her vision of a flower with a beautiful impressionist quality, a softness and blur not possible with other lenses. As a former art therapist, Anne has a special interest in the creative process and how we can keep creativity alive and well. Lensbaby lenses help unleash that creative spirit, helping you to see and photograph your subjects in a whole new way.
I enjoy writing articles for the wonderful learning community Visual Wilderness. This month my article talks about my two favorite lenses, the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm and the Velvet 85mm. These lenses have brought so much creativity and joy to my personal photography, and much of my teaching centers around igniting passion in others for Lensbaby lenses and teaching them how to use the lenses. I am putting the finishing touches on an e-book on using Lensbaby for flower and macro photography, with all my tips and tricks for using these lenses, as well as a lot of tips for flower photography in general. Meanwhile, enjoy my article, "Igniting Creativity Using Lensbaby Lenses" on Visual Wilderness and stay tuned for more details about the book!
I am excited to be an instructor again at the second annual Flower and Garden Photography Conference at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, August 19-23, 2019. Last year we held the conference at the Chicago Botanic Garden and it was a huge success. This year we are taking it to Longwood Gardens, one of the world's premiere gardens - over 1000 acres of outdoor gardens, meadows, woodlands, beautiful fountains and a 4.5 acre conservatory - the perfect place to practice our flower, macro and garden landscape photography skills. Our line-up of instructors includes, me, Bryan Peterson, Tony Sweet, Charles Needle, Alan Shapiro, John Barclay, Don Komarechka, Jackie Kramer, Rad Drew and Monica Royal.
The conference will be located at the beautiful Mendenhall Inn, a short drive from Longwood Gardens. Each day will include two excursions to Longwood (morning and afternoon), lunch followed by a group presentation, break-out sessions, critiques, and one-on-one sessions. All in-the-field teaching sessions are limited to a maximum of 10 attendees to guarantee that you will get one-on-one help from the instructors. Imagine immersing yourself in flower and garden photography for five days with some of the world's best and most inspirational instructors!
I will be focusing a lot of my teaching on using Lensbaby lenses and will be doing an intensive Lensbaby Bootcamp. I'll have bunkers of Lensbaby lenses for participants to use on my excursions. Longwood has an amazing dahlia collection so I'm excited to put the Lensbabies to work with all those beautiful dahlias!
For more information about the conference and to register go to our Out of Longwood website. To save $300 on registration use my special code: BELMONT when you register. This offer is good until February 1st. Please reach out to me at [email protected] if I can answer any questions about the conference.
Hazel Meredith has invited me back for her 3rd annual Creative Photography Conference in Southbridge, MA, May 18-19, 2019. I will once again be teaching all things flower photography and Lensbaby, followed by a number of hands-on sessions in which participants can try Lensbaby lenses. I loved presenting at this conference last year. It is small, well-run and lots of fun for participants. The focus is on creativity and that's a topic I love teaching about! Hazel has early bird pricing until November 30, so take advantage of that to sign up for this wonderful conference. An hour from Boston, Southbridge is an interesting town, full of history. The beautiful hotel and conference center was once the home of the American Optical Company and many of the architectural features were preserved in its restoration. It's a great place to spend the weekend immersed in photography and creativity!
I am so honored to be a contributing author at Visual Wilderness, to be sharing my ideas among so many incredible photographers and educators. Jay and Varina Patel have created an amazing community for others to learn about so many aspects of landscape and nature photography. I encourage you to subscribe to their newsletter and find out more about this great place to learn. My most recent article, published this week, was probably my favorite thus far to write. It comes from my heart and reflects the way I personally approach my photography and an approach I love to share with those I teach. Please enjoy 'Macro Photography: Slow Down to Create Impact and Emotion."
Please enjoy my most recent article on the Visual Wilderness blog: How to Capture Stunning Waterlily Photos.
The waterlilies and lotus flowers have been amazing this summer at Chicago Botanic Garden but I am most excited about leading a workshop at Garfield Park Conservatory this week "In the Water with the Waterlilies." We are going into the water to photograph the aquatic flowers up-close, an amazing opportunity! I am truly honored that GPC is allowing me to hold this workshop. Registration filled in 10 minutes so I didn't even have a chance to put it on my website. I hope to do it again in the future. I will also be speaking at Garfield Park Conservatory on Wednesday, August 8th, 6 p.m., as a part of their 2nd Wednesday Lecture Series. My talk is "Photographing the Botanicals and Flowers at Garfield Park Conservatory." The talk is free but you do need to register via the Eventbrite link.
Our big Out of Chicago Flower and Garden Photography Conference is being held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, August 26-30, and I am so excited for this amazing event. There are still a few spots left for those interested in totally immersing yourself in flower and garden photography for a week with 10 incredible instructors.
I hope you are out there shooting this summer, capturing the beauty in the world! Let me know if I can help you in your journey. Our craft takes time, patience and persistence; it does not come overnight. Our creativity requires constant nurturing - the quiet time to reflect and let ideas brew and the slowing down to truly observe the world around you.
Let me catch my breath! It's been a whirlwind of conferences and travel since mid-May and I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we are already well into July! In May I was a presenter at Hazel Meredith's Creative Photography Conference in Southbridge, MA. It was a small but wonderful conference and I had such an enthusiastic and warm group, all eager to learn about Lensbaby. I throughly enjoyed being a part of the conference and look forward to being a part of Hazel's conferences in the future. I spent the week after the conference in Boston with family, celebrating our granddaughter's first birthday - a wonderful, joy-filled week.
Next up was the Out of Chicago Summer Conference in June, always an incredible experience to be a part of, both as a staff member and a presenter. As a part of the conference, I led a full-day workshop with Lensbaby at Garfield Park Conservatory. It was a magical day, one amazing experience after another. I could not have asked for a more delightful group of participants. It poured outside but we were cozy with our subjects inside - most notably a rare and spontaneous opportunity to be invited to photograph 100's of waterlilies in the greenhouse just hours before they were transferred outside to the pond. I loved the reactions of awe that emerged as I introduced my participants to one of my most beloved places to photograph - The Fern Room, as well as the Desert House. These two areas were full of wonderful subjects for our bunker full of Lensbaby lenses. A special thank you to Lauren Wilcox from Lensbaby for being there and providing her technical expertise. She was awesome to work with!
Then, a few days after the conference, my husband and I were off to Copenhagen to visit our daughter and boyfriend who live there - a great vacation, full of so many adventures, great food and a new-found love for Denmark. I'm dealing with a bit of jet lag but I've taken advantage of my waking very early in the morning to spend some time at Chicago Botanic Garden, catching up on my own photography. There's nothing like shooting at the Garden in the early morning - no crowds, beautiful light and dew on everything. In the week that I was gone, the waterlilies exploded in growth and the lotuses are blooming. Summer is definitely in full-swing! Normally, most of my waterlily and lotus photography is done in the pools in the Heritage Garden. This year, the Aquatic Bulb Garden is lush with waterlilies and lotuses, as well. Don't miss visiting both areas.
Here's a sampling of what I've shot right before I left for vacation and in the two days since I've been home.
I'll be presenting at SWMCCC in Holland, Michigan, July 27-29. Stay tuned this week for an email through Out of Chicago for a super exciting opportunity in early August (make sure you subscribe via the website for emails)...and then we are on to the big Out of Chicago Flower and Garden Photography Conference in August. We still have a few spaces left!
The Crabapples along the Lakeside Garden path and circling the Great Basin are in full bloom now. Begin by entering the Lakeside Garden path near the English Walled Garden. The canopy of blooms reminds me of a fairyland and I often imagine how my 5-year-old self would have felt entering this magical path. Continue around the Great Basin over the Arch Bridge towards Evening Island, viewing the trees from many different viewpoints. Crabapples in shades of white, pink and red are along the paths. I love circling all around the lake, crossing over the Serpentine Bridge to look back and view the crabapple displays on Evening Island with the carillon bell tower. Yesterday the air was filled with the sounds of chirping birds and singing frogs in the lake. It's a magical time that I look forward to each spring but it doesn't last long. A big storm or heavy winds can send those blossoms dancing to the ground like snow, so go now to see this wonderful display.
Lakeside Garden Path with the Lensbaby Burnside 35mm
Arch Bridge with the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
Lakeside Garden Path with the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm
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