Desert Botanical Garden – Part Deux

I spent some more time tonight going through the remainder of my photos from last weekend’s trip to Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.  As I suspected, most of the better shots were in the earlier part of the day before the sunlight because so harsh, but I did find a few that weren’t too bad.

The ten new photos that I’ve posted to Flickr tonight (only one of which is shown on this blog posting) were all made after lunch, from about 1:30 PM until about 3:00 PM, and the light had definitely shifted since before we stopped for lunch.  We had also moved into the part of the Garden that had more true desert displays, including a large area that contained displays of typical Apache and O’odham dwellings, animal corrals and vegetable patches.  This area was interesting, but not what what you would call “pretty” or “scenic”.  I got some decent shots of some of the displays and may post them later if I run out of anything better to concentrate on.  Toward the end of our visit, we wound up in another area that had some beautiful cactus blooms, and I’ve included some of those in tonight’s upload to Flickr, so check them out.

One of the displays that we visited after lunch was the Butterfly Habitat where, for a limited time, they have numerous species of butterflies and moths on display in a special humidity-controlled structure where you can walk in and actually have the butterflies fly all around you, often landing on you.  There are docents walking around with feather dusters to help remove them from your clothing as you get ready to leave the enclosure.

Inside the enclosure they had the misters running to keep things humid, so I had to make sure I kept my camera covered whenever walking under the spray.  The plants in the enclosure were much more tropical in nature than the desert plants in the rest of the Garden.  There were also several feeding areas setup among the plants, and there were usually several moths or butterflies hanging around each of the feeders.

Butterfly feeder

I took a lot of shots in here, but didn’t get a lot that I was really happy with.  The butterflies didn’t particularly want to pose for photos, and it wasn’t always easy to get the best angle for a shot with all the people around, the sun shining through the fabric roof, and the thick foilage of the plants.  I did get a few decent ones, however, and I posted some of the best ones to the Flickr set “Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix“.

Some of the plants inside the butterfly exhibit were beautiful as well:

I used a fairly shallow depth of field on this shot, and I really like the softness of it and really don’t mind that it isn’t totally in focus.

Once again, all of the shots I posted tonight were processed in Paintshop Pro X3.  Hope you’ll stop by Flickr and see the ten new photos that I posted tonight.  And if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, I highly recommend Desert Botanical Garden (especially before it gets much hotter!).

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Yes, there is color in the desert

Tonight I got a good start on processing my photos from last Saturday’s excursion to Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.  There was such a variety of plant specimens on display there, and I photographed so many different types of subjects, from closeups to landscapes, that it was hard to know where to start processing.  So I finally just started at the beginning.

So many people who have never lived in the Sonoran desert have the mistaken idea that the area is just brown and sandy.  True enough, there is a lot of brown, especially after the winter rains are gone and before the monsoon rains begin.  But in the spring, especially after an unusually we winter like we’ve just had, the desert blooms in the most amazing colors.  The Desert Botanical Garden showcases specimens not only from our Sonoran desert, but from desert environments around the world, and their displays are artfully designed and impeccably maintained.

Upon entering the garden, one of the first things that catches everyone’s attention is the glass sculpture created by Dale Chihuly that stands at the front gate.  I didn’t see one single person pass by this exhibit without either taking a photograph of it or posing in front of it for someone else’s shot.

While this photo only shows two of the sculptures, there are actually three of them.  To see more photos of this beautiful exhibit, check out my new set on Flickr, “Desert Botanical Garden – Phoenix“.

My processing workflow for these shots was pretty simple:  I used the JPG files, and processed them in Paintshop Pro X3.  For each one, I adjusted the Brightness/Contrast, applied Local Tone Mapping, adjusted the Saturation, and then sharpened.  Here are a few of the shots that I worked on tonight:

All of these are best viewed large and on black, so scurry on over to my Flickr set and check out the entire collection.  So far I’ve posted twenty-four, but more will be added as I get them processed this week.

On a technical note, I had been having problems for the past couple of weeks using the Flickr Uploadr (the utility that allows multiple images to be uploaded and edited more efficiently in batch).  Seems like every time I tried to upload a batch, I would lose my Internet connection after a couple of files had uploaded.  I would have to reset my modem and router to get the connection back.  After consulting with my ISP, Cox Communications, I determined that I most likely needed a new router.  Cox recently boosted the speed of their broadband service, and my router was only “wireless-G”.  I bought a new “wireless-N” router and set it up yesterday.  Tonight I was able to upload all 24 files in one batch (each is between 12MB and 17MB), and my connection never went down.  Needless to say, I’m a happy camper!!

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The Native Looks Back

I’ve been busy all day doing some of the chores that I’ve neglected for the past few weekends–like getting our final booking paperwork taken care of for our upcoming cruise.  Important things like that can’t be neglected!

However, I couldn’t resist playing with just one shot from yesterday’s jaunt at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.  Right now they have a lot of sculptures by Allen Houser on display throughout the garden.  These are mostly large bronze works, and they add a lot of atmosphere to the desert flora and the surrounding landscape.

One of my favorites is below.  I added a textured finish to the image, and punched up the saturation and contrast a bit, since the shot was a little washed out by the bright overhead sun of the afternoon.  I like the contemplative angle of the face of the sculpture with the mountain and saguaro in the background:

Looking forward to getting back in the digital darkroom this week, and hoping that my work schedule doesn’t get so hectic that I can’t spend some quality time behind the camera.  Have a great week!

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Easter, Springtime, Butterflies and Renewal

Springtime reminds us that, in the cycle of life and death, there’s renewal and regeneration after the long, dark winter.  One of my favorite symbols and reminders of springtime is the butterfly.  On this Easter weekend, as we celebrate resurrection and renewal, I offer you this image of a butterfly that I captured at Arcosanti a couple of weeks ago.  I believe he was on the payroll at Arcosanti, because he was an excellent model, pausing on each flower and spreading his wings wide for those of us who were lucky enough to be standing close by with a camera.  Not much processing here, I just added a rough frame to the JPG in Paintshop Pro X3 to soften the edges a little.

Today, Andy and I spent several hours at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.  Of course, I have a ton of pictures to sort through and process (156 to be exact), and I’ll be sharing some of those later.  Part of our tour was through the Butterfly Pavilion, where we were able to see around twelve species of butterflies and moths up close, including the luna moth.  However, none of the butterfly shots that I got in the pavilion were even close to the one from Arcosanti, which was a little disappointing, but I did capture some great images of some of the desert flora that’s blooming right now.  If you have never visited Desert Botanical Garden, I highly recommend it.  This was our first time there, and I will definitely go back–I especially want to visit there at night with my tripod.

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