The end of summer makes me look back on what's happened and which images I've captured along the way...so yet again I'm playing catch-up. This past March I headed to Como Conservatory in St. Paul, MN, 2 hours early for 'artist day.' A few times a year, the Conservatory opens up its doors - for a small fee/donation - to photographers and other artists who wish to use tripods within the gardens.
Normally when I go my hand-held shots are just fine since there's an abundance of light...but it's nice to get in there and use a tripod sometimes for uber-macro shots (I have a converter for my 50mm f/1.8 lens which necessitates the use of a tripod) or to play with long exposures, etc.
While I did use the tripod for a portion of that 2-hour window, mostly I focused on macro shots and using the lighting. It was the busiest I'd ever seen it in there - I think more and more photographers are either a) figuring out they can bring in tripods to these sessions and/or b) eager to get into the gardens before the normal, bustling day-crowds arrive.
Many of my photographer buddies headed to brunch after the 2 hours was up, but a friend of mine met me at 10am and we went through all the gardens (me for a 2nd time, her for the first time ever). The Sunken Garden tends to get the most foot-traffic (at least it seems to be the busiest/hardest to walk around in that garden) but there other beautiful gardens and even little 'nooks' which provide excellent shots.
My favorite image from that day - and one which garnered me a 'Champion' at the Crow Wing County Fair this year (Floral category) - is my fern fiddlehead macro shot. I love the perception of this image...normally when I see fiddlehead pictures, they're focused solely on the fiddlehead or show it/them coming out of the ground, etc. I was walking along a path from one garden to the next and happened to glance down and see this little guy trying to climb out of the parent fern and thought it was a neat perspective. (This shot was taken using my Canon 50mm f/1.8.)
Something I have to constantly remind other people - and sometimes, myself! - is that even though I've already been to a place once or numerous times, there's ALWAYS something new to see through the lens of my camera. It's a matter of taking the time to slowly take in the surroundings and focus on different perspectives.
Every photographer knows that two photographers standing side by side taking a shot of the very same subject will get two very different results. The same is also true for the one photographer revisiting the same subject.
I'm no expert but it took me a long time to grasp the concept of perspective. We can all get into the rut of taking the same 'type' of image, but it's important in photography to look at everything multiple ways and be sure to move your feet when shooting. Look at your subject from a different angle, wait for different lighting, switch lenses, focus on the details, back up and 'get the big picture,' etc.
I did miss the June '09 "artist day" at Como, but will be hopefully heading back for the next time we're allowed to get in and shoot the gardens without (as many!) crowds.