Will I Ever Take a Good Picture?

My journey trying to take good photos.

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Tower HIll botanic Gardens 5/21/14

Tower Hill is open on Wed. evenings and it is very convenient to stop on the way home from work. I took a lot of pictures and it took me a long time to go thru them. I still don’t trust myself to take a good picture and I take four or five shots of almost every subject. Then I get home and they are almost always all good or all bad. If they are bad no problem into the trash they go but if they are all good I can’t figure out which one I want to keep.

The gardens are just starting to grow. It will be interesting to take pictures again of the following two shots in a few months and then compare them:



The plants in the above photo bottom center were a bit wilted. I like trees and here is a Dawn Redwood. I didn’t know Redwoods would grow here in New England. According to Wikipedia it is a native of China and grows to two hundred feet.


Not sure what happened to these hostas. Looks like something took a nap in them.


Couple of plants had a tough winter. I don’t think the second one is going to make it.



The Magnolias were in bloom. Quite the flower!


Here is my favorite picture of the day. A grouping of potted plants.


A bit closer.


When I was taking the pictures I thought I would like the second one the best but once I looked at them I like the first one.

Here is one of the greenhouses that the plants winter in. Just a few plants left to be taken outside.


This looked much better in person:( I can’t take a picture of a free standing flowering bush/tree and have it come out nice.


Heading into the woods I found this on the side of the trail.


I should have moved that leaf in the bottom left before taking the picture. Another wildflower; I have taken pictures of these at Hodges in years past. I can’t quite get the white in the flower to look correct.


After taking the above picture I was walking down the trail and I heard a very loud gobble. Looking to my left there were two turkeys. Usually when you see turkeys they don’t get upset but they start walking away from you. Not these guys. They posed for a few minutes.


I think this one wanted to know why the sign, which had pictures of birds you might see, didn’t have a picture of a turkey.

Here is the second turkey.


A few more shots.



Then a bit further along the trail I ran into more Turkeys. These acted more like other turkeys I have seen. As soon as they saw me they picked up the pace.


Some pretty white flowers on the side of the trail.


Remember this field from a few weeks ago?


Here is what it looked like before.


My attempt at trying to get something a bit different than a scenery shot.


Not sure if I like it or not.

A couple of shots of the Systematic Garden.




and from the Tower HIll website a picture someone with better skills than I took. Note this is shot from a different angle then mine.

Picture of fountain.

My last picture of the day.


I like the way this picture came out.

Well that is all for this trip.




A trip To Tower Hill Botanic Garden

Went to Tower Hill Botanic Garden again yesterday. I had received an email saying the Daffodils were in bloom. They were also having an African Violet show/sale. Wasn’t that interested in the African Violet show but I did want to see the Daffodils. I was all ready to go on Saturday but it rained so I went on Suday (4/27/2013). It was an overcast day that was a bit on the chilly side.

I do not take good landscape pictures and was curious to see if I could get some good shots of the Daffodils. I took a walk on one of the trails before heading over to the Daffodil field. Here is a picture I took looking towards where the vegetable garden will be.

TowerHill_04-27-002From another view.

TowerHill_04-27-012As you can see the weather wasn’t the best but I didn’t have to worry about the sun casting shadows.

I checked out the apple orchard.TowerHill_04-27-003-Edit-2You want to read the sign don’t you?TowerHill_04-27-010

I hope to go back when the trees are in bloom. My first view of the Daffodils.TowerHill_04-27-025and my best shot of the Daffodils:(TowerHill_04-27-047-Edit-2Much more impressive if you were present. I tried a few shots from low looking thru the field and they were even worse than this one! Oh well.

Here is a picture of the coloring that I liked the best. I really liked the orange center.TowerHill_04-27-059There is this bust on the trail. It is something about youth and age but it creeps me out.


Not sure why but I always take a picture of the gazebo.TowerHill_04-27-033Here is almost the same shot from last summer. I can’t wait until things green up.TowerHill_07-25-2013-020Here is a picture of The Systematic Garden. Won’t be long before the plants start to grow!TowerHill_04-27-086-EditA picture form a different view from last summer.TowerHill_07-25-2013-074Last week was school vacation week and there were activities for the kids. One was a Story Walk, Fairy Houses and Spring Fling Scavenger Hunt. I took pictures of the Fairy Houses. Some were a bit worse for the wear but I think I got all of them but one. TowerHill_04-27-091
















All the fairy houses were amazing. I liked the Gourd House and the Tree House the best. While I was taking the pictures a family started to walk thru. Judging by the exclamations from the little girl the  fairy houses were a hit!

Here is a picture I really wanted to come out. It is a panorama of 3 shots stiched together. It is a bit out of focus though. TowerHill_04-27-216-EditI wasn’t that interested in the African Violet show but I did walk thru. There were a LOT of plants. Not a good picture but this gives you and idea.TowerHill_04-27-255Here is a picture of one of the plants.TowerHill_04-27-251

They even had violets in bottles.TowerHill_04-27-289

I had read in the paper a few days ago that Tower Hill was participating in trying to create a disease resistant American Chestnut. It said that the chestnuts had come from various seed orchards including one at Tower Hill. So I thought they had trees that were somewhat resistant to the blight. I asked where the trees were and was told where they were but also informed that the trees were infected. I was disappointed. Here are a few pictures of the chestnuts.TowerHill_04-27-303



As you can see they have the blight. I remember a tree near my house when I was a kid that looked like the second picture. Just a bunch of small shoots. I don’t remember it ever having any nuts. If you look in the bottom left of the first picture you can see the husks from the seeds.

At this point I was pretty much done for the day and it started to rain. If it was going to rain it was nice that it didn’t start until I was a few minutes from calling it a day anyway.


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Coming out of hibernation

As I have mentioned before I don’t like taking pictures in the winter.  I like taking pictures outside when it is warm! Here is a picture I took one morning before work on 2/19. Not the type of weather that I like to go out and take pictures.


and looking the other way.



I did find a great place to take pictures though. Tower Hill Botanic Gardens. I have posted pictures before from Tower Hill last summer; here and here.

I joined Tower HIll so now I can go whenever I want. I went twice this winter. Once on 2/2 and again on 3/1. On the first trip there was an art exhibit by Mary Kocol. It was interesting but not my cup of tea. The pictures were all taken with a toy camera. I actually didn’t get any pictures from this. I was there to look not take pictures although I did have my camera and took some shots in the greenhouses but embarrassed to say none came out.

My next trip was to the Camellia Show. I am not sure what I expected (plants with flowers on them probably) but what they had was cut blooms in bowls of water. There were a lot of people and I’m not comfortable taking pictures in crowds because I feel like I am in the way. Folks were really nice and if they noticed you taking a picture they would pause while you shot away. I felt like I was ruining other folks experience.

I did get some nice pictures. Nothing that would make me think I could quit my day job and become a professional photographer though:)

Here are a couple that I liked:




Like I said, blooms in bowls of water!

Here was a nice arrangement.


This one didn’t come out very well (think I should have shot down on this rather then level) but it shows the amount of flowers there were.



Another shot showing the presentation.


Here is a picture of the winners although it doesn’t look complete since there are extra ribbons (that I really wanted to move out of the picture:))


My favorite shot of the day wasn’t even part of the show, just some plants they had in the same area.


That was it for the show. I went to one of the greenhouses and took some more pictures. Here are the ones I liked.

These were huge!


Nice place to sit and relax. My camera froze up on me and I sat here while I tried to get it to work. I was a bit worried because it stopped working after I changed a lens and I was afraid I broke the camera! No worries! I turned it off and back on and it came up. My battery died a bit after this so that might have been part of the problem.


When I sat down the plant that was leaning over the chair bit me. The leaves were very hard. I tried to take a picture of the leaf but they didn’t come out good (I was hand holding the camera).



That’s all for today. Hopefully the weather will warm up and I’ll get out to take more pictures!


Tower Hill Botanic Garden Trip 2

Went back to Tower Hill on Wed (8/14/2013) to try to get some sunset pictures. Last time I went sunset was just a little past closing time so I didn’t get any sunset photos. It was very breezy and it was tough taking pictures of the flowers since they were moving all over the place but surprisingly I got some good pictures. Lately I have been taking pictures of groups of flowers from up close. Here is my first attempt of the day.

I really like this sunflower. Edit 8/18 – informed this is a daisy!


The only other flower picture I took.

ImageI spent some time in the vegetable garden. I think this is kohlrabi? I am not sure though.


Then a picture of kale.


The reason I came today was for the sunset so I did some practicing. There were clouds so I had high hopes that I might get a good sunset!

ImageBack to the vegetable garden. It was getting close to sunset and I am facing east here but sometimes you get some nice shots looking away from where the sun is setting. I can’t figure out which picture I like best so I’ll post them both.



I wish I could have got both the shed and the bench in the same picture!

Then it was off to see if I good find a good sunset photo. After scouting around earlier I thought the only good place to shoot was at the entrance so off I went to the entrance. Here is one of my first shots. Like the previous two garden shots this is processed in NIK HDR Pro 2.


I took a LOT of shots of the sunset. Here is a slideshow. It actually looks better if you hit the forward arrow rather then play since play takes to long to change pictures.

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I have a folder of this days shoot that is over 8GB! A lot of that is that each of my sunset photos is actually 4 photos. One is the HDR processed picture and then the 3 photos that I took in a bracket (0ev, -1ev, and 1ev).

Still reading Complete Digital Photography by Ben Long and he uses the trick of setting white balance by using a rock also!

That’s all for today.

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Tower Hill Botanic Garden

On Wednesday (7/24) on the way home from work I stopped at Tower Hill Botanic Garden. I went last year and had a good time so I thought I would stop by again. I stopped on the way home because I thought I could get some sunset photos. Unfortunately closing time was 8pm and the sun was still a bit to high in the sky. I saw some nice pink skies on the way home though. Maybe I’ll go back in two or three weeks and try again. Nonetheless I had a good time and I took some nice pictures. The Day Lilies were the subject of the day. Here is the one I like the most.


As I did last year I found it harder then I thought it would be to take a good photo. You need to find a flower that is pretty and in a good spot. Here is one where the flower is really nice but the background is a bit noisy.

ImageHere is the same flower where I tried to blur the background.


I like that the background is blurred but I don’t like that the flower is not sharp. So I thought I would try to combined the two pictures in Photoshop. I exported the two pictures as layers into PS and merged them and ended up with this.


I can see a few places where my PS skills are lacking but overall it came out nice.

Here is another one.

ImageThis was another picture I found difficult to get. I took many shots and wasn’t happy with any of them. I finally took 3 shots at +-1 EV and hoped when I got home one of the many shots would look ok. I found that each of the shots I took was lacking so I took the 3 bracketed shots and ran them thru NIK HDR software and ended up with the above picture. I am not sure why I am having to do so much post processing to get the image I want.

Here is the only day lily that I took that I didn’t have to do anything outside of Lightroom.



I liked this photo. I was trying to convey that there were a lot of flowers.Image

There is a small vegetable/herb garden and I took a few pictures. These are run thru NIK HDR. Again I was having a lot of trouble getting the exposure correct so I fell back and bracketed the shots hoping to get something.



Then I came across a tree that had the coolest flower. I took a picture of the flower and completely forgot to get one of the tree:(

ImageThat’s it for my trip to Tower Hill Botanic Garden. I hope to go back in a few weeks and try again for some sunset pictures.