Sometimes our brains see differently than our eyes. We see what we want to see, but when we try to capture it with a camera we have trouble finding the photo.

Ceanothus flowering in front of Redbud Tree

This happens all too often in spring when every new flower, every hint of the new season, overwhelms and excites the senses. If you are out with your camera trying to take it all in, and find yourself startled by beauty, stop to think what exactly got the juices going. Don’t just point your camera at the scene and grab a snapshot.

I recently spent a couple days photographing California native shrubs at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden where the native Redbud trees were exploding with their deep magenta red flowers throughout the garden. They provide fantastic blocks of color as background for many photos.

As I walked the garden drinking in the glory of California’s native shrubs, I stopped in my tracks when I saw one of the blue flowering Wild Lilacs (Ceanothus). Hmmm, there is a photo here.

Ceanothus 'Ray Hartman' - California Wild Lilac, blue flowering native shrub

My heart and brain saw that blue against the magenta, while the eyes saw the wide snapshot at the top of the post. Use your camera to find the photo that the brain thinks the eyes are seeing.

I am speaking at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show next week, Thursday March 17, on Finding the Photo, one of the themes from the PhotoBotanic Workshop book Think Like A Camera. After the free seminar (with Show ticket), I am leading a special one hour workshop walk through the Show gardens helping students find photos, in what can be an very busy display. Tickets are $35.

At last year’s show my brain loved the stone wall at the “Living Water” – garden exhibit by Andrea Hurd. The eye saw the whole exhibit. Come to the Show, find your own photos.

"Living Water" - garden design by Andrea Hurd; San Francisco Flower and Garden Show 2015, dry laid stone wall