Spring at the Bellevue Botanical Garden

I have recently begun an interesting project for the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The BBG is updating their website and they need new photos.

The garden has an excellent group of volunteer photographers who document the collection. It is through their efforts that the BBG is so well catalogued. It is easy to identify a plant based on its location, name or characteristics. Here is a link the garden's collection search tool, which is quite extensive. http://bbgcollection.bellevuewa.gov/

For the  Bellevue Botanical Garden's website update, they need a few things:
  • photos showing the garden and its plants throughout the year
  • a consistent look and style for the photos
  • shallow depth of field
  • ability to place text over the photo
  • ability to crop to different sizes for different uses
After a month and a half working on the project, I have developed an admiration for the staff and volunteers who keep the garden looking great. When you are photographing plants which are less than two inches, it is easy to noticed when a slug has had a feast, or a bloom has lost its luster. Each time I visit the garden, it looks fresh and healthy.

Salmonberry blossom
Creating images which can be cropped to a variety of formats has been a learning experience. When I first began, I was creating careful compositions in camera. I soon learned that the 16 x 9 and 3 x 1 aspect ratios required by website templates aren't conducive to creating one finished image in camera. 

Now, as I shoot, I am mindful to create images which will have a pleasing balance in a variety of shapes. The larch photo below is an example of an image where I felt the composition worked for several different crops.

Weeping European larch

Weeping European larch

The Western trillium is the symbol for the Bellevue Botanical Garden.
I kept an eye out for a pleasing flower in pleasing light.

Western trillium
Trillium ovatum
I am really enjoying seeing the minute details of many of the plants and their blossoms. This plant has the distinctive bell-shaped flower of the heather family, with a bonus of  tiny pink lines on the blossoms. 

In order to create a space for text on top of an image, I try to make a small number 
of flowers in sharp focus, with the others blending together in the background.

AvensGeum sp.

The distinctive shape and color of the lewisia stands out in the rock garden.
It is one of my favorite dry climate wildflowers.

Siskiyou lewisia
Lewisia cotyledon
 I had to shoot several photos of the water drops on the Lady's Mantle and layer them together in order to get the drops in focus. This is a composite of about 6 images. Each droplet has a sharply focused image of the rest of the plant reflected in it.

Water Drops on Lady's Mantle
Alchemila mollis
Detail of the image above.Water Drops on Lady's Mantle
Alchemila mollis

Note the tiny hair-like structures which hold the water drops in place. And, see the plant reflected in the waterdrop.

These flowers are each less than one inch in size.

Rock cress
Aubrieta pinardii

I will be photographing at the Bellevue Botanical Garden through the end of March 2019. To see more of the images I have been creating, check out the Bellevue Botanical Garden gallery at my website

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