Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dedication

This all started with the latest issue of The Cottage Journal. I happened upon an article by Tovah Martin, The Season of Snowdrops, with accompanying photographs by Kindra Clineff.


These intrepid white bloomers that we know as snowdrops are the first subtle hint that winter's fury is fracturing. Huddling close to the earth, snowdrops have all sorts of tricks up their sleeves to battle brutal weather. The fact that they face downward protects the blossoms from filling with ice or snow. And these cunning little weather warriors only swell open when temperatures are well above freezing, closing up shop when it's particularly inclement. If temperatures fall into the single digits, the plant collapses entirely, but they rally to soldier onward as soon as the mercury rises. Not to be deterred by prolonged relapses of cold weather, the flowers can linger a month or more – far longer than most bulbs.

I didn't recall having ever seen snowdrop flowers. And then, just a few days after reading the article, as I was stopped at a traffic light near Hurkamp park, I spied a patch of soft spindly green stems and leaves dotted with delicate white flowers.  My heart went pitter-patter as I stopped for closer inspection.

Yes! There were snowdrop flowers right here in my hometown!

I returned home to gather my Canon 7D camera with the 24-70mm lens, heavy coat, and an old exercise mat – all the gear necessary to take photos of snowdrops with temperatures hovering in the teens.

I spent the next half-hour or so, lying on my belly, squirming this way and that, rolling over, scrunching up – looking for the strongest photograph – the one that would isolate my subject, giving it greater power within the frame. To isolate the snowdrops, I remained mindful of point of view, depth of field, and the role of light.

In making a compelling photograph, it's as important to exclude what we don't want within the frame of our image as it is to include what we do want. – David duChemin

Back home, warm and cozy, I happily edited my photographs, fairly well satisfied with the results (given the limitations of taking these pictures with the flowers in their natural habitat and not being able to snatch them from the garden and pose them to my liking!). 


And then came the weather forecast for snow . . . I knew I had to go back to the park and take more photographs of snowdrop flowers . . . in the snow!

As the first flakes fell softly to the ground, I pressed the shutter a few more times . . . this time not only capturing the beauty of the snowdrop flowers but also storing away sweet memories . . . the warmth in my heart despite the frigid air as the man I love stood shivering, holding an umbrella above my head to protect me and the camera.



Shooting on my belly along the snow allowed me to isolate the flowers from the garden they were planted in and push them up against a more gentle background. Standing, or lying anywhere else, and this scene was much busier.


According to Tovah Martin, the best way to check out the snowdrop flowers requires  . . . a mirror to look underneath and inside the blooms. Only then can you see the individual markings that define one snowdrop from the next in this incredibly diverse group of bulbs. 


The weather prediction was accurate, and we got a foot of snow. Looks like I'll have to make one more trip to the park for a last look at the snowdrop flowers after the snow melts, with a mirror in hand.

28 comments:

  1. What an amazing flower and you've captured it so beautifully. I read your post slowly - it's so descriptive ... you certainly have a way with writing. I can imagine "the man you love" standing and holding that umbrella. Just lovely.

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    1. Barb, We learn from each others - and you truly have aptly named your blog. You surely keep up with the times and are always learning. I think this is where our creative spirit comes from - from the open minded spirit of being a lifelong learner. Really, every day is like the first day of school when we are embracing new adventures - and they don't have to be big. The learning might be something as simple as how to bring an old window to life in a vignette or how to wiggle to ground level to take a picture of a tiny flower. Our lives are fun . . . and really, does it get any better?

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  2. I can't believe you went back out there in the snow to photograph those flowers! What you didn't mention was that the snow was sticking and the roads were slippery and it was about 17 degrees. I wouldn't have gone out in that weather to photograph the Second Coming! But that is the difference between us--you knew you didn't have the right photo. That snowdrops belong in snow and that the garden would recede. If I ever took a photo with the just-right background in just-right conditions (even harsh ones), I'd fall over in a swoon. Dedication is demonstrated twice--your insistence at getting the picture just right, and your husband's insistence at making sure you were safe.

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    1. Ha! You my friend are the most adventurous photographer I know! You've taken many just-right photos - leaning into an old house, over a railing, through a gate, under a pile of old wood, and through a field of tall grass or weeds. We really need to make a field photography kit for each of us - and they must include snacks!

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  3. you are intrepid! and determined! and produced the most lovely snowdrop photos ever! bravo on all three counts...

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    1. Amy, I'm not naturally creative or even especially talented in any way, but long ago, I discovered the power of being resourceful and determined. I just keep showing up - and I'm always surprised at just how well that simple strategy works out for me.

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  4. Wow a foot of snow! Crazy. We have no chance of seeing any flowers for a while. Great idea to use your old yoga mat to lay on. I always keep a tarp in the back of my car. Soon (I hope) I will load my car with all the things I need for field photography.

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    1. Sarah, Thank you for visiting. I'm really enjoying your On the Water photo project. Perhaps at the end of the year, you will make mosaic of your favorite images? The vision of you on your field photography trips is one I adore. This is a picture I'd like to see myself in, too. Those days, free of demands and places to be, with only the camera and the time to look at life through the lens of possibility . . . those are the days I live for!

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  5. What a brave little flower! And what a persistent photographer you are. We got about 15" of snow. More than enough for me. My husband spent the better part of the day digging out the driveway, the snow plow came, so tomorrow we may be able to get out.

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    1. Dotti, There may be a foot of snow outside, but you found a way to make beautiful photographs! Love your new studio space - found in your own home. I tromped through our snow to take a few pictures of the Lenten roses in a local garden - it was worth the cold ! So if we get more snow (or ice, oh no!), I'll be warm inside - editing photos!

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  6. Aren't they just so lovely, so pure and graceful? I visit a lot of European blogs and always love seeing them there. Well now that you know that they grow you can put some bulbs in your yard for next year. Beautiful images.

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    1. Barbara, I'd love to see what you'd do with these flowers. You always manage to capture such beautiful floral images - soft yet sharp, bold and colorful yet not overpowering. I might try a few macro photos if the snowdrops survive the snow! And, yes, we think alike - I've already made a note to plant some snowdrop bulbs. I'd like to try to force some for my indoor garden, too!

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  7. Lovely photos of the snowdrops! They are just so pretty and always a welcome sight! Mine are still buried under 3' of snow--I am always amazed to be greeted by these sweet little flowers when the snow melts.

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  8. Donna, you "had me" at Tovah! I've admired her work for years, long before digital photography, when her beautiful images were regularly published in the older Victoria magazines. For that reason, I have stacks of those magazines. Then, you "had me" at snowdrops! I love these cute little flowers...I completely was glued to this monitor, reading and soaking in every morsel about them. Last year I found some in my neighborhood...this morning we have a fresh thin layer of snow, I'm guessing they have reclined for a day or two, but I will go check on them. Clearly, this post must be one for a book/journal! You've brightened my early morning! So beautifully written, my friend! Thank you!

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    1. Beverly, It seems we've taken turns inspiring each other this week! I just popped over to your site - and oh my goodness, I am amazed by the beautiful photographs you are making!

      I love all of the books by Tovah Martin. I've been making terrariums for some time now. Have you tried making these? They are so beautiful . . . and really easy. The article I referenced had some snowdrops planted on a cake stand under a glass dome - so elegant and beautiful!

      Thank you for staying in touch!

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  9. Your effort was well rewarded, the flowers look so beautiful in the snow. We won't have anything green around here for a while, it is snowing again this morning. Stay warm!

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    1. Michelle, Nothing green, but you did find those stunning pussy willow branches to photograph. Looks like we are all making the most of the winter months and moments of light to keep making and creating. Thank you for sharing - wish we were having a cup of hot cocoa together on this bitterly cold day!

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  10. Donna, I loved reading your story about your visit to those little flowers in the park and the pictures you made of them, and your second visit after the snow had fallen... You are such a passionate person to brave the cold weather and lie so sportingly on the snowy ground to have the best point of view! It made me smile and I could neatly imagine you lying on your belly and shooting these lovely little flowers while your husband was the perfect assistant!
    I like the image of these snowdrops as little soldiers... yes, they always grow gathered in groups and their flowers turned downwards look like little helmets...
    I've them in my garden and I tried today to take some pictures of them, but I just shot from above...

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    1. Odile, Every visit from you is a treat! I would love to transfer one of the snowdrop images to fabric and make some sort of collage or pillow or sachet. You are such an accomplished sewer and quilter and maker . . . have you ever tried to use your images printed on fabric? I read on Amy's blog, Four Corners Design, that she has made pillows and journal covers. Doesn't this look like fun?

      http://fourcornersdesign.blogspot.com/2015/01/getting-ahead-of-myself.html

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  11. A wonderful experience, Donna! Those precious flowers hold such a sweet promise, and inspire us, don't they! I love that you found these sweet blooms right in your hometown!

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    1. June, I often wish that we could team up. I sometimes take a picture simply because I need to - and then do not know the story that should go along. But you always know your story - the one of your faith and how it plays out in your every day life. Thank you for your sincerity and kindness.

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  12. I've always loved these little flowers...ever since I was a little girl! But had totally forgotten about them! So thank you for showcasing these little cuties! Can't wait to see the third installment with the mirror...AND based on their unique petals...how about a little macro? :) Lovely!!

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    1. Robin, Great suggestion! If the snowdrops survive the snow, I'll try the macro versions.

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    1. Roxi, Wish I could send one of these photos your way and let you work your artful digital magic on them!

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  14. Such lovely photos of the snowdrops, Donna. And my goodness, how you persevered to capture them. Your husband sounds so kind and supportive. We have snowdrops all over the place in England. They grow in the wild, they grow in people's gardens and we love them dearly as the harbingers of spring. In future I must practise what you say about trying to isolate them and capture their unique structure without the distraction of the other things around them: it sounds like a wise strategy and, as seen in your lovely frames, clearly produces great shots. All the best and stay warm with all that snowy weather, Bonny

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    1. Bonny, I did enjoy my snowdrop adventure, but I didn't fully appreciate the beauty of these little flowers until I visited your blog for the full story on them. I love your image of the broad expanse of flowers surrounding the tree - my snowdrops were in a little patch - as though they were trying out for spot in Virginia.

      For the full story on snowdrops, pop over for a visit to Bonny's blog

      http://www.justsaying2u.com/2015/02/osterley-parks-snowdrop-drifts.html

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  15. I adore snowdrops but I think it won't be until June before the snow here will melt enough to see them!! Thanks for introducing me to Tovah Martin! Love your quote.

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