Life

Ten years of landscaping progress

“You ought to take photographs of your house from the yard now, while your summer flowers are in bloom,” Margaret said. “Your Realtor will probably be very happy to use them in the listing.” Sounds good. So I did it.

This is the result of a ton of landscaping work. It’s not just planting and mulching, but outright repair. Connecting my home to city sewer and then having 21 trees removed tore my yard up almost beyond recognition.

It made me think about the photos I took of the house when I toured it before placing an offer. I found them in my archive. The yard was kind of a mess, but it got far worse than this before it got better.

What a difference! With considerable help from my family, I’ve done a lot of work in this yard over the last 10 years.

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Phlox

Phlox in bloom
Kodak Retina IIc
Kodak Gold 200
2017

I love phlox! I first noticed phlox on my many road trips, as I encountered it over and over again growing roadside. And then when my parents sold our childhood home and moved to Indianapolis in retirement, mom dug up the phlox from her yard and planted it in mine. It’s so fragrant!

As you can see, I put more film into my Kodak Retina IIc. It worked fine. I don’t know why it failed on the first roll I put through it.

Fortunately, I wrote most of a review of this camera a couple months ago and was just waiting for my test roll to come back from the processor to finish it off. So despite my time being severely limited by home projects, I was able to quickly finish the Retina IIc review. It’ll run here tomorrow.

Photography

single frame: Phlox in bloom

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Photography

Spring flowers, courtesy my Yashica-D and a Spiratone close-up lens

After I figured out I had the close-up lenses on wrong on my Yashica-D, I knew I’d want to shoot with them right to see how the photos turned out. So I attached them correctly and loaded some Kodak Ektar, and waited for the flowers in my gardens to start blooming this spring. One by one, I photographed them as they emerged.

I shared the first of them with you yesterday — the best photo of them all, if you ask me. But here are some more, starting with my grape hyacinths.

Spring flowers from my garden

I forget what these are. I bought them at Walmart, of all places! I planted them in the middle of my big bed and they didn’t flourish. So a couple years ago I moved them to a largely shaded spot just outside my front door and they’ve been very happy ever since.

Spring flowers from my garden

And of course, there are daffodils. Verna, who built my house and lived in it first, planted these. My neighbor says she created the big front bed a few years before she passed. I’m happy to be the current steward of her garden, and to have added my own flowers to it.

Spring flowers from my garden

These are Grecian windflowers. A smattering of them come up every year, bloom for a few days, and then retreat.

Spring flowers from my garden

I forget where my Lily of the Valley come from. I remember planting them, I think. Did Mom give them to me after she and Dad moved out of my childhood home? Did I buy them at Lowe’s? It’s funny how such memories blur after a while.

Spring flowers from my garden

Purple is my favorite color, and I’ve favored purple flowers (like these irises) when I’ve chosen them.

Spring flowers from my garden

These purple and white irises were already here when I moved in. Since my parents retired and moved here, my mom, who misses her gardens, has worked hard in mine. A pine tree Verna planted had grown so large it shaded these irises from full sun. So Mom moved them, and they’re so happy in their new location that they now bloom in the spring and in the autumn.

Spring flowers from my garden

As you can see, I didn’t get the whole flower in focus. I wanted blurred backgrounds, so I chose widest apertures possible in the available light. I wish I had narrowed the aperture a stop or maybe two, which would have brought the whole flower into focus. I’ll bet I would still have gotten blurred backgrounds.

The Yashica-D remains a total joy to shoot. Despite being shaped like a brick, it’s comfortable to hold. Its controls move with silky heft. But it’s the big, bright viewfinder that charms the most, elevating even the most mundane scene with jewel-like color. And now that I know how to properly attach the Spiratone close-up lenses to it, I’m getting good results. Look at this color, this sharpness, this bokeh! The Yahinon lenses are not diminished at all by these inexpensive aftermarket accessories. They let me move to within inches of my subjects while carrying through all of the Yashinon lenses’ great characteristics. Win!

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Spring flowers from my garden

Narcissus
Yashica-D (with Spiratone Close-Up Kit)
Kodak Ektar 100
2017

This is the last year I’ll get to enjoy the gardens on my property, as by this time next year I expect to have finally moved in with my wife in her home. I attached the Spiratone close-up lenses to my Yashica-D and loaded some Ektar, and as the spring flowers began to bloom I recorded them all. More tomorrow!

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Photography

single frame: Narcissus

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Photography

Irish flowers

Flowers are everywhere in Ireland — cultivated in gardens, hanging in pots, growing wild by the roadside. I saw plenty of flowers I’d never seen before, and some flowers that I had seen before were in colors you don’t find in Indiana! Here’s a solid sampling of the flowers I photographed. I have no idea what most of these are, so if you can help me in the comments I’d be grateful!

Irish roadside flowers

Irish roadside flowers

Irish roadside flowers

Irish flowers

Irish flowers

Irish flowers

Irish flowers

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Irish flowers

Irish flowers

Irish flowers

Victorian Walled Garden at Kylemore Abbey

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People say that the best camera is the one you have with you, but I don’t go all the way in on that.

The camera I always have with me is my iPhone, first a 5 and now a 6s. Both have been fine for everyday snapshots — far better than any snapshot camera I owned even 10 years ago. I’ve even used them to take some pleasing artistic photos. But I muff one in 10 shots because they’re hard to hold steady. And the images go blotchy when I zoom in close. Also, their angle of view (about 60°) is too wide for the close work I like to do.

But before I go to work each morning I step into my garden to see what’s bloomed since yesterday. I pull my iPhone out of my pocket, snap a fresh bloom, and text it to Margaret for a quick morning smile.

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That’s what your phone’s camera is brilliant at: instantly sharing images of what you’re seeing and doing right now.

How useful! Margaret likes to grab selfies of us when we’re out and about to record the day’s memory. While we were in New York City earlier this year, I took several snaps with my iPhone to share on Facebook and to email to my mom in realtime. And when I come upon an old car parked, I pull out my phone and shoot the car from every angle so I can later write about the car for Curbside Classic.

I’ve read articles that wring their hands over how legions of photos on our phones will be lost because we don’t properly label and archive them. I’m not sure it matters for most of these of-the-moment photos. They’re much like these flowers: beautiful for the moment, but soon withered and fallen and swept away by the wind.

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Beautiful for the moment, but soon withered and fallen and swept away by the wind

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