Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sign of spring

I went to Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden on Saturday with my friend DeLane. I needed to take a few more shots of the exhibition, because we are going to be making a CD of the show and all the pieces in it to send out to other potential venues.

I hadn’t spent much time with DeLane recently, and I also needed a break from some of the stresses in my life and from the miserable weather we have been having here in North Carolina this winter. The snow and cold don’t bother me at all; I rather like them! But I really hate the gray skies and the cold rain and the slogging through the mud. On Saturday, the skies were Carolina blue and the temperatures mild, and it was a great time for me to practice shooting outside with my new camera.

In manual mode. Shiver.

I shared with you in a previous post about my lack of experience shooting in anything but auto mode. But I’m determined to master manual mode, and to try to improve my photos technically. I want to understand how I can adjust my camera to deal with different lighting conditions, and how to change my depth of field so that I get some things in focus and others out of focus. So, after reading about these things online and in my camera’s manual (sigh), I headed out.

The shot above of pussy willow tree branches is an experiment with trying to get a shallower depth of field by using a smaller f-stop (or aperture, how much light the camera letting in) and a faster shutter speed. I guess I am learning something!

I have always loved pussy willows. Such lovely texture and fluffiness, and a sure sign that spring will return, even if the skies are still gray. Did you know that the fluffy buds are called “catkins”? They reminded me of a sweet song we used to sing when I was little. I don’t know if my mother taught it to me, or if we learned it in kindergarten. It has a simple melody, one or two notes for each line, that gets higher and higher until the end, when you slide down on the meows and joyfully shout the last line. I never fail to hear it in my mind when I see a pussy willow.

I know a little pussy
Her coat is silver gray
She lives down in the meadow
Not very far away
She’ll always be a pussy
She’ll never be a cat
For she’s a pussy willow
Now what do you think about that?
Meow, meow, meow, meow,
meow, meow, meow, meow…