I love these rainy days. Colors are rich, the light is soft, and raindrops glisten.

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

University of California Berkeley Botanical Garden – a wet day in January

On a recent visit at the U.C. Berkeley Botanical Garden, as I stood under a cluster of Viburnum berries, I ran into my poet friend, Hazel White and her colleague Denise Newman, who are in the midst of a new project, The Biotic Portal at Strawberry Creek, documenting the way people use and interact with gardens and plants.

Viburnum foetidum v. ceanothoides - red winter berries in rain

Viburnum foetidum v. ceanothoides – red winter berries in rain

I was just in the midst of wondering how to photograph these berries when Hazel asked to interview me, forcing me to verbalize what was going through my mind. It was a delight to be in conversation with someone with such keen insight on the way artists communicate, she with words, me with photographs.

I don’t know if she will use our conversation as part of her project but it did allow me to imagine how I wanted to portray these red berries, wet with rain and white highlights. Their very wetness is what caught my attention, allowing me to see all these red splashes of color in the jumble of the garden.

Rainrops on Viburnum foetidum v. ceanothoides - red winter berries in rain

Rainrops on Viburnum foetidum v. ceanothoides – red winter berries in rain


I told Hazel how much I have been influenced recently by Abstract Impressionist, how my eyes have changed, and that I seek to show gardens in ways they make me feel.

This is all very personal work, I do most of it in the background of my day, but it is great fun. So, I went home after my conversation with the poet, now with an excuse to work on something new, and set to work with the viburnum berries in the rain.

Here is what I did:

Before and After Slider

Here is the process:

First, note I cropped the original full frame image, the one at the top of this post, wanting to isolate the red berries.

Then I cloned in some extra splashes of red, some extra berries in the upper right-hand corner, as well as a little bit of work in the lower left-hand corner.

Before and After Slider

I opened up a new filter in Photoshop, Topaz Impression, and set to work adjusting the various controls of brush size, intensity, color volume, and stroke width that come with the filter. Every time I do one of these photo impressions I use different combinations, just going by feel and what seems to illustrate my feelings. There is no formula, and anyone who wants to work with these filters can do the same.

Before and After Slider

After getting the image where I wanted it, I used the eraser tool in just a few spots so that the raindrops on the berries were obvious.

Before and After Slider

A small touch, but vital to connect the garden to the image.

If I were poet, I would somehow use words as sparingly.