Category: Latest

Hydrangea Hues

Blue Hydrangeas

Of all the flowers I’ve photographed, Hydrangeas have the most exquisite colour palette, with multiple shades of pastel – creamy whites, delicate pinks, peachy pinks, soft greens, chartreuse greens, baby blue. And also the richer sapphire blues, mauves, lilacs and purples. They’re a gardener and photographer’s delight.

Hydrangea Wall Art

From Beach to Designer Flower….

Growing up in New Zealand, my earliest childhood memory of Hydrangeas, was seeing them in the “gardens” of seaside baches (humble Kiwi holiday homes). They evoke nostalgia.

Without much apparent care, they’d bloom and bloom throughout summer. The above multi-pastel Hydrangeas are from the seaside garden of such a property on Waiheke Island and were probably planted in the 1940s. Being Mopheads each flower has a large flower head and is made up of hundreds mini flowers and petals.

Sometimes I’ve struggled photographing Mopheads. With such a dominant form, I felt I was photographing “balls”. But then the colours worked their charm, and it was all about capturing the shifting rainbow of hues in front of me. (Click image to enlarge and scroll through the gallery.)

Lacecap Hydrangeas, have a more subtle appeal than traditional bolder Mopheads. The flower is a round disk of textural short flowers, edged with showy flowers. Being less compact, the flowers have a more flowing graceful form.

 

Below Hydrangea Panorama in blue and greens…..

See more Hydrangeas

Tip

On Instagram I read @serenacrawford post on Hydrangeas, and how to ensure they last beautifully in a vase.  She advised soaking the whole head in water and then putting Alum in the vase water.

Flowers v Architecture

Recent architectural shoots proved a big change from shooting flowers…..challenging yet fun!

What’s Different?

Photographing flowers is an organic process. To a large extent the flowers find their own rhythm and tumble through the frame.

Conversely photographing architecture requires a lot of lining up to ensure the image captures the same symmetry as the building itself. It’s a more technical approach. A wide angle lens instead of a macro lens is required. See RAGGC Clubhouse images below.

The columns of the clubhouse are a standout feature. The putting green gives context. And grounds the building giving tonal contrast to the otherwise light drenched interior.

Materials – The unique brick work is an interior as well as exterior feature. Timber features too and in the club room brings a mellow traditional atmosphere. It contrasts and compliments the overall contemporary aesthetic of the building. Both materials convey a sense of solidity and permeance. Flowers however have a transitory fleeting life.

What’s the Same?

Form – when photographing I’m often looking for a “letter of the alphabet”…..or some sort of underlying geometric form (circles, semi-circles, rectangles).  In the Clubhouse light fittings, coffee tables and planters are circular. Even the columns are circular, with their exquisite bespoke brickwork.  So to with flowers the more form a bloom has, the stronger the composition becomes. Repeated forms create a more coherent design.
See Metalier Coatings circular baton Installation in Westfield Mall, Newmarket, and circular forms of the Peonies below.

 

Westfield Mall

 

Form is further accentuated by colour and contrast. Click image to enlarge.

Whatever I’m photographing I prefer to shoot using only natural light.

Devine Dahlias

Dahlia

Dahlias are the quintessential flower of Summer. They have a multitude of petals arranged in amazing symmetry. With such petal perfection they are photographer’s dream.

And as well as their limitless form Dahlias have a spectacular colour palette too, ranging from delicate to vibrant colours. For a more contemporary look, Dahlia montages, with any coloured background are fun.

Pastel Shades

Cafe au Lait (below) blooms in varying tones of blush, pinks and mauves.

 

Currently Allium Interiors in Auckland stock two Dahlia Art Prints, featuring the stunning Café au Lait Dahlias in tones of blush and cream. See below.

Blush Dahlia Art Print at Allium Interiors

Shooting against a rich dark background, offsets subtle variations in tone.  The three blooms are back-dropped by the leaves of our native Kawakawa which have an interesting heart-shape. Subtle details help to build the picture.

Hot Shades

Summer is coming! Look out for Dahlias blooming in flamboyant hot oranges and reds! Once considered garish such brightly coloured blooms are now fashionable.

Pom Pom Dahlias

Not all Dahlias are “show girls”! I do like the compact form of these much smaller blooms in this painting by Australian artist, Nora Heysen. The vibrant flowers burst from the dark vase in a kaleidoscope of clear colours : yellows, pinks, reds and mauves. The petal arrangement is typically compact and symmetrical.

Pom Pom Dahlias – 1947

As well as her still life flower paintings, Nora Heysen was an accomplished portrait painter. In 1938, she was the first woman to win the Archiblad Prize, with her portrait of Madame Elink Schuurman.

View Dahlia Collection

Perennial Heaven in Blenheim

In 2009 Rosanne Anderson and her husband Atholl bought a one hectare horse paddock in Blenheim. They built a house and created a garden.
An amazing conversion followed.

Rosanne relaxing in the garden.

Garden Style

Renown plantsman and landscape designer, Piet Oudolf, was Rosanne’s inspiration for the perennial borders which are naturalistic, free form and profuse. They create unique tapestries. The perennials are hardy and good performers  – there’s many varieties of Salvias, Rudbeckia, Inula, Echinacea and Michaelia.  The backdrop “hedge” of New Zealand native trees, enclosing the borders, is an example of just how successfully flowers and natives can combine together in garden design. It’s no longer the case of one or the other.

 

Colour

Rosanne wanted a “hot garden” with strong bold colours. There’s lots of eye-popping yellow, bronze-orange flowers, punctuated with blues, purples and magenta. It’s ablaze with colour, though curiously never seems garish. Grass gardens at either end of the borders are a good foil to the brightness. Sculptures nestle among the plants. The Dragonfly was made by Rosanne and NZ cast glass artist, Jenny Smith, created the Totem sculpture at the rear of the garden, creating a red glow.

A garden of all Seasons

In mid March many plants were still standing, their seedheads providing food for the birds which now visit the garden…..mostly finches and piwakawaka. It’s not until July/August that Rosanne cuts all the plants back to the ground (unlike Piet Oldfield she doesn’t run over them with a lawn-mower)!  Everything is then mulched. And by the end of August, the garden is beginning to come away again to flourish in a new spring. It peaks in January/February.

Naming the garden “Karamu”

Many trees had been felled in the Marlborough landscape in the process of converting it to wine country. But Rosanne and Atholl felt it was important to provide a new habitat for the birds in the middle of the grape vines.  It’s now a welcome oasis!  They named the garden “Karamu”.  Being a regenerating tree, it’s the perfect name for this once upon a time, horse paddock.

 

Book References:

‘Planting the Natural Garden’ by Piet Oudolf

‘The New Perennial Garden’ by Noel Kingsbury

Oudolf and Kingsbury have worked together on many projects over the years.

Beauty in my Bubble

Looking towards Ponui island

March 26, 2020 – Covid – 19 Lockdown begins. So we make a hasty escape from Auckland city and were relieved to finally arrive on the island.
Water boundaries bring a sense of added safety and isolation. And solitude and challenge.

With movements restricted to inside the house and around the section I was soon reaching for my camera. And taking a second look at the microcosm I was living in. It was an opportunity to shoot and create new work. Taking photos always keeps me happy!

Garden Bubble

Although we’re mostly surrounded by bush, an evening stroll outside has some floral rewards. A few beauties have managed to survive the dry island summer.  Hibiscus, a quintessential island flower, flourishes here. They are resilient and colourful.

Birds abound. Kaka (native bush Parrot) do a low noisy fly by. Morepork (small bush dwelling Owl) call in the dead of night.  Kereru (native Wood Pigeon) swoop and soar. Piwakawaka (native Fantail) flit cheekily about and a NZ Kingfisher darts by in a wondrous flash of blue/green iridescence.

Interior Bubble

Our “bach” has an evolving eclectic style…..see vignettes below. I obviously like colour!! Similar to my liking of hot coloured flowers.

The Hibiscus print in the entrance way is a retro artwork – my first large format canvas print. My first attempt at printing on glass was this Kawakawa Leaf splashback. I was initially attracted to capture it because of its heart shaped leaves.  The Beach scene oil painting by Mike Morgan, an iconic Waiheke artist, is a playful and quirky depiction of beach life. There are thirty beach goers all painted with amazing detail, precision and humour.

Walk Bubble

Daily walks are a highlight of the day…..so much natural beauty to enjoy anew. (click images to enlarge).

Car Bubble

We take the scenic route when driving to the supermarket for essential shopping. The Wedding Chapel at Man O’War Bay is all locked up but not for much longer hopefully. Onetangi Beach awaits bathers, but still very popular with Lockdown walkers.

Lockdown ended at 11.59pm on April 27, 2020.

Great Barrier Island Garden Tour

November is Garden Festival time in New Zealand, and I recently flew out to Great Barrier Island to photograph their festival. It’s a unique Garden Tour, consisting of four distinct tours located on different areas of the island.  I photographed the Totara Tour – great being a garden photographer again!

On this tour we visited a range of gardens from designer to the more eccentric. The first one, Puketaha featured a back bone of mature trees, shrubs and a stunning range of sub-tropicals.

Sculpture Gardens

Many of the gardens featured sculptures set amongst sub-tropical planting. They captured the Island feel and sense of place.  I especially loved the lush purple Bromeliads, Taro and Ligularia under-planting.

Permaculture Garden

One of the quirkier gardens was Julie’s Whare. It’s an organic garden run on permaculture principles and is an ongoing process: like many gardens it’s constantly evolving. The sculpture is “framed” by gathered driftwood.

Green Bush Gardens

In contrast to the residential gardens was our visit to Taumata, most of which is in a QE2 convenant – protected bush forever. It’s a beautiful area of Bush featuring some magnificent mature specimens and the remains of an old logging track in the foreground (see image one in gallery).  I’ve always loved the colour green and the sense of sanctuary and quiet it brings. This stems from a childhood in New Zealand and regular trips to the NZ Bush.

Cause

The Garden Tour is a major fundraiser for the Great Barrier Island Community Health Trust to purchase medical equipment for use on the Island.  The event happens thanks to the island’s gardeners and a huge community effort, led by Leonie Howie (pictured below). It was a pleasure photographing the Totara Tour…such a joy photographing so many wonderful gardens and meeting the interesting owners. Thank you for inviting me.

Summer Pinks

With Summer arriving, it’s time to start thinking about this quintessential Summer colour – Pink!  Spring blossoms have paved the way.

Pastel Pinks….dusty, blush, rose, shell

Sweetpeas by Anna Killgour-Wilson

Dreamy and romantic …….soft pinks exude femininity. My favourite Pink flowers are Peonies and Poppies and Sweetpeas – they woo me with their endless tonal range and shifting nuances of colour. The petals can be surprisingly textural. Even fading pink appeals.

The petals of these Poppies remind me of soft crumpled tissue paper…..tone and texture are exquisitely delicate.

Poppies

Add a touch of Hot Pinks with the Pastels

Favourite Interior Designer

I love Tricia Guild’s designs. My Floral Art Prints seem to sit comfortably with them, so clients tell me!!  Looking forward to buying her latest book “In My View”…… endless colour inspiration. Flower motifs abound in her fabrics….Peonies and Dahlias are faves. The full voluptuous form of these flowers appeals to designer and photographer alike.

Designer Guild fabrics are available for purchase at Allium Interiors, Newmarket, Auckland, New Zealand. www.alliuminteriors.co.nz

  Designer Guild Fabric

Designers Guild Biella Blossom & Peach Duvet

Pink in your Wardrobe

Pink is back!

Tip

When photographing pastel toned flowers I underexpose 1 or 2 stops using the EV button – it’s a quick way to change your exposure, whereby you can deliberately over-ride the camera’s recommended settings. Occasionally you have to bend the rules!!

The reason for doing this is because I don’t want to blow out highlight detail – my aim is to preserve true tone and texture of the petals.  Once it’s shot you can’t recapture highlight detail later when editing.  There will be none. But an underexposed flower can be readily fixed in post processing/editing. While the image will look too dark initially, this is quickly fixed by bumping up the shadows and highlights. And voila! Exquisite petal detail will be revealed.

My Life as a Colourist

My love of colour started as a child, in my Mother’s Zinnias’ garden. There were flowers in every shade of pink, red, orange and yellow : a vivid kaleidoscope of vibrance.

And now years later I’m still in love with colour. Wherever I am, be it a botanic or urban environment,  I’m always on the lookout.

I look for palettes ranging from soft to electric. Hot colours tend to shout out whereas softer tones seem to whisper. Both appeal.

Urban Environment

Artworks

A local installation, Mountain of Light, by Angus Muir, is a current highlight.

Situated in Heard Park, Parnell, Auckland,  it’s a magical installation, beginning with subtle changes in colour increasing in intensity. The sculpture is an abstracted shape of a volcano and is four meters high. It’s a wonder for young and old alike.

The final two images in the gallery are of Reuben Paterson’s stunning floral installation, Andale, Andale (Spanish for Come on, Let’s go).

Situated on the western facade of the Newmarket Railway station, it’s a glittering and stimulating piece of urban art, epitomising the retail fashion hub that is Newmarket.

Public Art Work by Sarah Hughes – Britomart, Auckland

Street Colour

Karangahape Road – one of the most colourful streets in the city.

Bus Shelter

Rainbow Crossing

Celebrating LGBTQI+ the crossing design includes the colours of the Progress Pride Flag. And as well as the traditional rainbow colours, designed in the 1970s, it includes a coloured chevron (V shape) to place greater emphasis on inclusion and progression. The design was created by international artist Daniel Quasar.

 

Botanic Environment

People often ask me what’s my favourite colour. It’s green. Which is no surprise really, given Nature is my constant source of inspiration. Below is a flashback to a Kawakawa splashback, with its heart shaped leaf, which I shot in 2012. Still looking good nine years later.

 

Splashback

And while Green is a constant I’m beginning to dream of all colours again…and come spring/summer, want to photograph more beauties, like Dahlia and Hydrangea images below..

 

Handbag Camera – Lumix LX100 ll

NZ Nikau

Recently I bought myself a birthday present :  a stunning compact digital camera – to Anna, from Anna!

Convenience

I’d been wanting a smaller travel camera for a while, with the intention to carry it with me at all times. As a photographer you’re constantly on the look out. Whether it be flowers, gardens, buildings, people you need to be able to act quickly once you spot something.

So the convenience of this camera is one of its biggest attractions for me. Lets face it, I can’t always be bothered setting up with my large DSLR and fitting appropriate lens, organising tripod etc.

Zoom range is 24-70mm, which is perfect for botanics, streetscapes, portraits, and landscapes and architecture. No need to constantly change lens.

Streetscapes – House and Gardens

I visit Melbourne frequently and one of my favourite things to do is walk around some of the beautiful inner city suburbs admiring the Terraced houses and gardens. Small sections are no barrier to creating flourishing gardens!

Portraits

When on holiday I often want to photograph people – trips to Melbourne are all about photographing the grandchildren. The zoom lens on my Panasonic Lumix means I can shoot unnoticed sometimes. And spontaneously. Ideally I’m shooting at around 70mm which is the most flattering focal length for portraits. Pics below are about catching the moment. Next I want to shoot random street portraits.

Landscapes/Seascapes

Beautiful trees at Grafton Cemetery Auckland, including exotics and natives. Looking forward to exploring more land and sea-scapes with the wide angle range of the lens.

Tip

With a zoom lens and an effective focal range of 24-75mm, this little camera gives a lot of shooting options. 75mm is an ideal focal length for portraits, which I’ll be sure to use in future. Plus a wide aperture to blur the background, focusing more on the subject in my portraits.