holt_903_2230.CR2It was spring. I knew my Ribes sanguineum was crying out to be photographed.  A siren song really.   She beckoned and seduced me away from the solitude of a day indoors, her charms naked and ripe for the camera.

But where to start exploring this beauty?

Well, I didn’t start with this opening photo.  It took some serious ogling and getting acquainted before I could match up the “V” shapes of the Viburnum (left rear), to the vase shape of the Ribes, and still use the dark negative space to reinforce all those dancing lines and complimentary triangles.

I began exploring with a few standard opening photos.  “Oh, you look lovely today, let me take your picture”.  She was coy and led me on.  Brazenly she presented one of her voluptuous florets blushing with anticipation.


Too bold and caught breathless by her brazen display wrapped in leaves heralding her centerfold status, I pulled aside, hid behind a veil, re-focused, and made this same beauty more demure.


The softness and intimacy accented now with a wide camera aperture and telephoto lens, the voyeur peeks in on the maiden in her boudoir as she prepared to display her most delicate details.  “Come close” she whispered.


The macro lens now isolating one single tiny flower, its precious private unfolding is a secret known only to me and the pollinating bees.  And now you the salacious reader.  Have I revealed too much of her ? too much of myself ?

I now know well this most showy of  California native shrubs, a volunteer in my front meadow.   She now presents more complex angles, trusting my camera to flatter what she flaunts this day in the garden.


I have been watching her for nearly an hour by now and am relaxed, seeing better compositions, comfortable in her company.  My camera dances and captures momentary moods I would not have seen if I had quickly left after our initial passionate discovery.  Subtleties are revealed.  I back off a bit and see the photo that opens this post.

The most complex of all my work is often the last photo taken.  It can be an exhausting process finding that one culminating picture.  But I have studied this beauty for some time now, I see the symmetry of lines the branches make.  I see nature’s harmonious pattern of blossoms, replicated inversely in negative space that matches the dark holly leaves of my shrub border.  A tapestry of textures is my reward for having watched my sweet Ribes reveal her beauty to me.


Once I make this picture I am done. I am spent and quickly walk away.  Ribes study complete . . . until the next siren song.  I think I hear the bold red call of R. sanguineum “King Edward VII” across the yard …. Too much fun.