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
I am pleased to announce that I will be a presenter at Mike Moats Macro Conference in Spartanburg, SC, October 24-25, 2020. Mike announced the conference last week and it is already close to being sold out. If you are interested, act fast! This will be my second time presenting at Mike's conference and I highly recommend it. I'm excited to be a part of it again. Mike does a great job organizing the conference and it is a perfect mix of presentations by well-known photographers and hands-on time photographing a variety of macro set-ups, including flowers. I'll be presenting alongside Charles Needle, Jackie Kramer, Harold Ross and Mike. Check out Mike's conference website for more information and to register for this fun learning experience. It's great for all skill levels. I'll be giving a presentation on Creative Flower Photography: Creating Flower Portraits with Artistry and Emotion. I'll have lots of Lensbaby lenses for attendees to try while shooting flowers or other macro set-ups.
Come join the fun!
A Day at Chicago Botanic Garden with Anne Belmont - Creative Flower Photography Workshop
Join me for a day of learning and fun at Chicago Botanic Garden. These dates have been offered to those on my mailing list and there are only a few spots left. If you are interested in joining me, please email me at [email protected] to reserve a spot. Please indicate which day you are interested in. Each workshop is limited to 6 participants to ensure lots of one-on-one time for learning.
Date: Friday, September 11 OR Monday, September 14 (rain dates: 12th and 15th). You can choose one of the two days. Rather than having one larger workshop, I am dividing it into 2 days with small groups. What I love most about teaching is being able to get to know each of you and spend significant time helping you with the things you want to learn. I think the small group is also important for sharing ideas and for each of you to get to know each other. September is a quieter and hopefully cooler month at CBG - children are back in school and the crowds have lessened. Most of all, I chose this time because it lines up with CBG’s annual Dahlia Show, an event I look forward to each year. Here’s more info on the Dahlia Show. Scroll down to the dates for Central States Dahlia Society Show, September 12 and 13. Imagine a room filled with 100’s of the most perfect and beautiful dahlias! If you plan to come to one of the workshops, come a day early or stay a day later and come to the show. I’ll be there photographing both days and, although I won’t be formally teaching, I’m happy to offer tips for shooting flowers indoors.
What You’ll be Learning:
My instruction will be customized to each participant’s needs and wishes. I will spend time with each of you. As a group I will be encouraging you to slow down and develop the art of seeing to find interesting subjects that will create images with impact and emotion. My goal is always to help others reignite their creative spirit and find joy in the process of shooting. I will encourage you to stay with your subject and explore different ways of shooting it - with different compositions, angles, apertures and lenses. We will explore the topics of composition, light, aperture, using selective focus, controlling backgrounds and using Lensbaby lenses to unleash creativity. I will provide instruction on how to use Lensbaby lenses. Lensbaby will send some loaner lenses for our use that day. I will ask each participant for their camera mount info, as well as what lenses they might be interested in trying. I will also provide some links to articles I have written to help prepare you for the workshop.
I will prepare a one hour online video presentation for you and send it a week or two prior to the workshop to provide you with some helpful info about photographing flowers and sparking your creativity. By doing so beforehand, we will have more time for hands-on shooting.
September 11 or 14 :
7:30 a.m. - Gather at the Visitor’s Center at Chicago Botanic Garden
7:30-11:30 a.m. - Shooting in the various gardens with in-field instruction
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. - Lunch at the Garden Cafe
12:30-1:30 p.m. - Let’s talk about some essential principles we practiced in the field.
1:30 - 5 p.m. Continued shooting and applying principles.
5 p.m. Let’s grab dinner a local restaurant and unwind from our busy day!
Workshop Fee: $300 per person
Payment via PayPal. Invoice will be sent to each participant. Please email me at [email protected] to reserve a spot in the workshop. Cancellation policy: refund given, minus $20 processing fee, up to 60 days before the workshop. 60 days or less before the workshop a refund will be given, minus $20 processing fee, if you or I can fill the spot. No refunds given for no shows.
If you are interested in being on my mailing list for future events, email me at [email protected] and I'll add you to the list. I will post here about other teaching events in the coming week.
Dahlia, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm
Happy fall to everyone! I'm embarrassed to admit I haven't written a blog post since the spring. It was a such a busy spring and summer, full of travel and teaching at so many conferences. I had little time to breathe in between. Most notable was our Out of Longwood Conference at Longwood Gardens in August. I've been working with the Out of Chicago team since it began doing conferences in 2014, and we all agreed that the Longwood conference was our best yet. It was an incredible line-up of instructors and the most engaged group of attendees we've had. The enthusiasm, the creativity and the connections that happened were not to be forgotten. We are busy at work on next year's conferences - Yosemite, Chicago, Chicago Botanic Garden, Moab and Acadia are all in the line-up. I'll be teaching at the Out of Chicago Botanic Garden and the Out of Acadia conferences. Check them all out at outofchicago.com. More details to come.
Another reason my blog has been less active is that I was busy writing my first e-Book, published in February – Creative Flower Photography: An Illustrated Guide to the Magic of Lensbaby Lenses. You can find it on the Visual Wilderness website. This winter I intend to begin book #2. I'm passionate about teaching others to be more creative and I plan for this book to focus on my principles for creativity as well as a comprehensive guide to flower photography. I can't wait to get started - so many ideas are brewing!
I have published a number of articles on the Visual Wilderness website this summer. One article is dedicated to the Lensbaby Sol lenses – Creative Flower Photography with the Lensbaby Sol. If you follow me on Instagram @annebelmontphotography it's no secret how much I love photographing with the Sol 45mm. This little lens has stolen my heart and I am continually amazed at the ease of use and the results I am getting with this lens. It brought a spark of creativity back into my work and when I am shooting with this lens I find myself getting into that ever-important dance with the flower I am photographing - that sense of connectedness with my subject and being present in the moment. The lens produces some of the most beautiful backgrounds, blur and bokeh I have ever seen and when I am seeing that through the lens, it's easy to feel so filled with emotion and presence. I strive for this in my work and talk about this as a principle of creativity – the process of photographing our subjects is just as important as the final image!
A more recent article is on an important topic in flower photography – learning to control backgrounds. This article – How to Create Beautiful Backgrounds in Macro Photography will provide you with many useful tips for working with backgrounds. I think it is one of the most difficult variables when photographing any subject in macro photography.
I'll close with a few of my favorite images from the late spring and summer. Enjoy photographing the beauty of fall, and always feel free to reach out if you need help with any aspect of flower photography. This winter I plan to set up a formal email list, but until I get that up and running, feel free to email me at [email protected] to be added to my existing list. I hope to get information out soon about workshops and conferences for next year. I'm waiting for a very important and exciting wedding date in our family to be set before I can finalize my schedule!
Ballerina Tulip, Lensbaby Sol 45mm
Nigella 'Miss Jekyll Blue' - Love-in-a-Mist, 180mm macro
Dahlia, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm
Lotus, Longwood Gardens, Sony 100-400mm
'Teddy Bear' Sunflower, Lensbaby Sol 45mm
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."