We see flowers and plants several times during the course of our everyday lives. But have you ever stopped and really looked them? We know there are hundreds and hundreds of different species, each one with unique characteristics. But, if you really look at flowers, you will notice that they come in an almost infinite palette of colors, and an endless variety of textures and patterns, offering a multitude of subject matter for interested photographers.
One of the best places to see this incredible variety is at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. The arboretum is a 135 acre research and teaching facility maintaining over 300 plant families, some of which are rare and threatened, from Australian, New Zealand, South Africa, and California. This rich diversity offers a unique opportunity for study, research, and of course, photography.
On a recent Saturday morning, I met 5 excited photographers to explore what the Arboretum had to offer. We started with brief introductions to get better acquainted. Then I covered a few of the basic principles of photography that we would be practicing during our workshop. I reviewed the technical aspects of the Exposure Triangle and how Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO work together to create images. Next I covered some of the more creative aspects of photography and compositional basics like Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, and awareness of your backgrounds and textures.
As a coastal town, Santa Cruz is subject to some pretty rapid weather changes. We started our morning off with high, even cloud cover, but I knew we could very soon have bright, sunny skies, so we also discussed how to account for these changing conditions as we moved through the gardens.
Then we were off to explore! The Arboretum landscape constantly changes depending on the season so it is always different and interesting to find out what's currently in bloom. We started in the Australian garden with Kangaroo Paw and its fuzzy blooms of red and yellow, moved through the New Zealand Garden, down into the South African garden and its alien-like Protea. We continued through the California natives section, and ended up in the Aroma garden and the Succulents with their wide variety of textured and patterned plants.
Throughout the morning, I checked with each of my students to help them fine-tune compositions, explore different camera settings, reinforce some of the concepts we were learning about, and most importantly, make sure everyone was having fun!! I challenged everyone to really look at the subject matter, try to see the different angles, move positions to create more interesting compositions, and appreciate the colors, textures, and the setting as a whole.
As we progressed I saw each of my students begin to get more and more comfortable with their cameras and the resulting images were truly satisfying. It was soon approaching the end of our time, and we set up for the final group photo, which is always fun! I answered a few final questions, gave a few more bits of information and encouraged everyone to continue practicing what they had learned today. Then I bid them all Adieu, and closed the book on another very successful Aperture Academy Workshop!
Until next time,
DeAnna and the rest of the Aperture Academy Team
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.