It is now winter and the Aloe arborescens are blooming.
In San Francisco Botanical Garden there are grand plantings of them in both the South African section and the Succulent Garden. Their cherry red flowers are a delight to hummingbirds and photographers as well. In my recent visit I think half my photos had their red spires appearing in one place or another.
Here in this wide view of the South African section, underneath the magnificent Canary Island Madrone (Arbutus canariensis), the red pokers of the Candelabra Aloe (Aloe arborescens) can be seen in front of a distant Podocarpus henkelii tree with fresh yellowish foliage.
Without hardly moving the tripod all I need to do is put on a telephoto lens to isolate those flowers in front to the Podocarpus. The telephoto lens will make the yellowish foliage go completely blurry and out of focus, so the Aloe flowers stand out and separate.
Every beautiful garden is made up of many wonderful vignettes and a lesson to photographers is whenever you find yourself in a situation where things are looking good, don’t be too quick to move along. When you find a nice wide angle view, stop and drink in all the components; take a moment to look for the details.
In the Succulent section of the Botanic Garden there are lots of Aloe arborescens flowering on the hillside and a stone staircase splits the plantings in two.
The path going up the hill allows an entirely unexpected view of the foliage, as the plants are almost growing sideways on the hill. A macro lens here allows a study of the details of the spines or “teeth” of the fleshy succulent leaves.
PhotoBotanic Gallery San Francisco Botanical Garden
Looking for Details and Vignettes is Chapter 6 in the e-book Think Like a Camera. “The vignette shot distills that down to a simple story and brings intimacy to the scene.
You will often find such details as you think about what the camera sees as opposed to what your eyes see.”
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