Spring season is a favorite time of year for my wife and me. We both love exploring the abstract, dance-like forms and gestures in new flower blossoms with up close photographs. With shallow depth of focus the subtle softness of the blossoms creates a feeling of serenity that I find quite captivating. I much prefer this impressionistic treatment over the more scientifically accurate images with everything in focus, like you might find in a botanical encyclopedia.
The images in this post were taken this past weekend in Asheville, North Carolina at the 8,000 acre Biltmore Estate where Bonnie and I have annual memberships. For those of you who are familiar with the property, these are from a Star Magnolia tree (Magnolia stellata) a short walk from the Bass Pond. I wish I had taken a shot of the whole tree — with a girth of around 30 feet and height around 20 feet, it’s quite impressive when in full bloom. I suspect it was among the first trees planted by Frederick Law Olmsted’s crew working under his direction to design the landscaping and gardens for the entire Biltmore property. That would likely have been not too long after 1895 which is the date the house was first opened by George Vanderbilt to friends and family on Christmas Eve.
Celebrating the Spring Equinox as a time of new beginnings, both astronomically and astrologically must be a part of every culture on the planet. Today the sun will have been at a point directly in line with the Earth’s equator and the length of day and night are equal, hence the term “Equinox”. From today the days will get longer and warmer, apart from these pesky cold snaps that threaten the delicate blueberry blossoms in our yard!
I’m taking this opportunity to celebrate the creative spirit of Nature as she awakens from the Winter sleep. No one said it better than one of my favorite poets, e.e. cummings in his poem about Spring. Here’s an excerpt for your enjoyment:
secretly adoring shyly
tiny winging darting floating
merry in the blossoming
always joyful selves are singing
This past weekend, we revisited a favorite spot along the South Carolina coast at the Botany Bay Plantation south of Charleston. An ancient forest on the eastern side of a former plantation has been overtaken by the westward shift of the coastline, resulting in a “boneyard” of dead trees that are often in the surf as the tides rise.
The surf had toppled many more of the dead trees and pushed them onto the shore since our last visit in 2013. The line of two trees in the top image had a 3rd companion that I captured in this January 2013 photo. Before long those remaining will face the same fate.
I have always been in love with this spot, and wanted to capture the feeling of the changing circumstances surrounding the skeletal trees. For me, the tree represents the inner presence of Being or consciousness, standing silently and peacefully amidst the changing tides of daily living. Centering in my own zone of inner silence helped me connect with the spirit of the scene and what it meant to me. This feeling and experience became the source of my creative exploration in making these images.
Where do you find the “soul of creativity” in your own experience?
This image of Eastatoe Falls gives a hint as to why it is so popular with photographers in Western NC. It’s an incredibly beautiful waterfall, especially when there has been lots of rain to increase the flow of water. It has a marvelous right angled wall to the left of the main flow that adds character and interest.
It happens to be on private land only ~200 yards up a wooded path from the owners’ back door. They freely allow photographers and other tourists to drive up their wooded drive a short distance off a US highway and park in their backyard to walk up to the falls. For more about the owners’ generosity, check out my wife, Bonnie Allen’s recent post from our second visit to the falls in February when we were joined by fellow photographers Steve and Jenny Johnston from nearby Charlotte NC.
What most photographers miss though, is the smaller falls downstream from the main falls. During my first visit back in October on a “photowalk” for members of the The Arcanum led by Les Saucier, who is one of my favorite mentors and himself a Master in The Arcanum; Chris Almerini and Mary Presson Roberts decided to explore the area downstream and came away with some images that all of us on the photowalk really liked.
So on my second visit in February, I started in the downstream area and worked my way up to the main falls to see what I could find. Here are my two favorites from the exploration. I still made it upstream to the main falls to capture the image at the top, so I got the best of both worlds! I decided my lesson from this experience was to explore the whole territory rather than just going for the main “trophy” that everyone else is heading for. Are you making sure you get outside the box of the mainstream and go for something more unique in your creative exploration?