I have not participated in a Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest for a while, mostly for lack of time. But this month's contest really is an interesting challenge to the designer in me. The focus is filling the frame, having just enough "information" in the picture, and nothing more. I had a look through some photos I made at the Arizona Cactus Garden at Stanford, and it really made me think. The photo above, with a nice collection of Cotyledon orbiculatum, a reddish Aloe (I think) and some Yucca leaves isn't bad - at least you cannot see a lot of bare dirt. But it's fairly unexcepitional.
The photo above, with Opuntia microdasis, Agave parryi, and Cleistocactus straussii (silvertorch cactus) shows off a more interesting combination of colors, shapes, and textures but the path in the background is distracting from the focal points. A different depth of field would have been better.
This photo is much better. I love how the morning light highlights the agave and the golden barrel cactus, and the background, being in the shade, recedes nicely. If this were a contest about light, I'd submit this photo. But it's a contest about framing, so I'm picking something else.
This photo, with Opuntia (prickly pear) as the focal point, Agave americana in the foreground, and yuccas and silvertorch mixed in really shows off the abundance of the cactus garden. I always think of cactus and succulent gardens as sparse, with lots of bare dirt because of the dry climate these plants are from. But it does not have to be like that at all, and this picture shows that quite nicely.
And now, let's go over to this month's contest and see how everyone else is filling the frame.