Gardening: Looking with New Eyes
The Short Hills Home Garden Club hosted a photography speaker.
The Short Hills Home Garden Club heard from Alan Detrick, an award-winning photographer specializing in macro or close up photography, particularly of garden and nature subjects, during its first meeting of the year on Tuesday. His moving photomontage set to carefully timed chirping of birds and music drew continual ooos and aahs from an enraptured crowd in attendance at the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum.
Despite the cold weather outside, the evocative and varying images made one feel as spring was just around the corner. Located in Glen Ridge, Detrick and his wife Linda run a stock photography agency and provide services to landscape architects, as well as garden designers and writers.
After the multimedia presentation Detrick entertained the attendees with tales of how his interest in photography evolved, starting as a hobby, further encouraged by his wife and inspired by family history. Detrick’s father and uncle photographed the airship Hindenburg when it crashed and burned in 1937 in New Jersey. His great, great grandfather had a nursery. Now he combines the two historical traditions in his work.
Detrick also discussed the emergence of digital photography in general. From his perspective, individual photos themselves are now really more like a collection of information and are flexible like never before. Digital photographs allow for stronger sense of connection and mean the one can get even closer to a subject. Though he works in the medium everyday he still expresses amazement about the technology of digital photography and feels developments are just at the beginning of their possibilities. Detrick spends each winter learning about new technological advancements. His current photo manipulation program of choice is Adobe Lightroom.
As for cameras, according to Detrick, “Once you get to a certain price range there is not a huge difference in quality.” The difference is where buttons are located relative to how a person holds the camera. So it becomes a very personal and literally hands-on trial and error process to select the correct one for you.
He went on to give a few photography tips. Detrick recommends looking for curves and leading lines, looking at the scene from the other side, and framing your view whether you take it from the inside out or the outside in. Overall proper lighting is key to taking a good photograph. In the garden, venture out whenever possible early in the morning or late in the afternoon for the best chance to get a light angle that shows the structure of what you are photographing. If you are forced to work mid-day, then his advice is to follow the shade.
If you want to catch insects on flowers you need to be “low and slow.” By closely studying their behavior, which is often repetitive, Detrick learns to identify patterns that give him a clue on where to set up equipment for the best possible shot. A must is to work with a tripod. Another is to get out early in the morning because the insects are cold and can’t move fast at that time of day. If you can get one good shot after taking more than 60, you are in fact lucky.
And watch out for legs bent inward in an insect photo. What does that indicate? The photographer cheated and posed a dead bug in order to photograph it.
Meanwhile, Detrick is continuing a personal search for photos with “a little bit of magic.” He certainly shared many that captured it.
Detrick will present his garden photos again at the Frelinghuysen Arboretum on June 12. For more information see www.alandetrick.com.