First Views: Country Mouse - Foggy morning

For garden views of a real garden - see Ms Town Mouse's First Views post - and to join in her meme, take wider views of your garden (rather than closeups of individual interesting plants and so on) and link them to her post. We look forward to seeing your garden views! We do this on or around the first of the month.

We both just took a garden photography class with Saxon Holt, rightly renowned garden photographer, and I am now practicing some basic principles he shared with the group. (Not well, but practicing!) In no particular order and likely incomplete here are some basic composition ideas from Saxon:
  • Fill the frame.
  • Think about the elements and shapes in the foreground, midground, and background.
  • Think about color as shape - a bit like your photo is a Mondrian with flat masses of color. 
  • Consider the rule of thirds - imagine the frame divided into thirds horizontally, vertically, to help you balance the composition.
  • Notice how what's in the frame changes as you move the camera (and yourself) even slightly towards or away, to the left or right, up or down as you view the garden scene you are photographing.
  • If you're taking a picture of a garden, include garden elements so people know it's a garden.
  • Every picture tells a story: what story is your picture telling?
I often shoot this view. It's one of the few garden-pretty ones in my garden.

I got more "into" the frame for this view for a change. Messy but - yes, it IS messy.

We are getting a lot of these interesting spider creations in the garden - you see them on foggy mornings. The stems are of naked buckwheat (Eriogonum nudum - our local wild one) - just budding.

More messy profusion - the naked buckwheat and some grasses and some common madia. With a bit of midground - Manzanita and background - monterey pine (not a good tree to have here).

On clearing the top of the chaparral of clutter - revealed is this twisting manzanita trunk - it grew around other shrubs that are now not there. Baby manzanita in foreground. This is Arctostaphylos tomentosa var crustacea.

Something in fore- mid- and background. Inviting chair. I quite like this. I recently moved the bird bath here and I and the birds are enjoying it.
Same general view -- Duncan (wearing boundary collar) in the foreground. Not very nicely composed but you catch him when you can. (The shoulder scar is from when Wood Rat backed onto him with the silent Prius.)

Same bird bath - opposite direction. Fog white-out in background!

See that all important point about walking into and out of the frame? The ugly and very substantial old TV dish support was hidden in the shot above! We keep thinking it can be the armature for a wonderful sculpture to come... one day...

Just to show the seeds of the needle grass I'm growing tons of this year. I harvest a lot of the seeds but I leave a lot for the birds...
This California towhee fledgling is feasting on those seeds. Picture taken through the window, from my desk.

A few ambience shots. My garden is nothing without the forest around. These trees in the background are a redwood - yay - and a monterey pine - boo. 

Misty driveway, with oak opposite

I do love those little egg shaped spider webs
I would like to know more about them. Seems the newer ones are woven inside older ones, with the small spider safe within. Someone told me what type of spiders they are. But I forget. How can I keep hold of all this knowledge! Dang!

AND I love these foggy mornings - sigh!

Then the sun breaks through and illuminates the flaking skin of the manzanita, facing south east.

Stepping back a little you can see a lot of dead branches in the tangle. Sometimes I leave them and sometimes I prune them off, depending. For fire safety and aesthetics, it's better to prune the dead wood - but it is very strong, and structural, and I wonder what part it plays in the ecology of the chaparral.
Trying for an interesting shot. Not quite there - more weird than wonderful. This little manzanita is near the top of the chaparral slope on the south side of our property, just below the parking area.

I just love this image -- suspension bridges come to mind. Also fairies.

Now we are on the north slope down behind the house, and the color looks weird to me - camera auto setting? But you can see the pitch of the slope. This area is in need of a lot of TLC to get rid of the non-native grasses. The whole area needs thoughtful care, and isn't getting it. We'll see what next year brings. Weed early and weed often.

Again the north slope down behind the house, showing the lovely foliage of the redwoods and etc.  Bay leaves mostly. Let's not talk about the bay tree that used to be here, and that is sprouting back so vigorously, eh?
Let's talk about the elegant dead madrone whose gnarly trunk rises to the right of a young redwood tree trunk there. She's one of the presiding spirits of the place and her branches are wonderful (not shown here).
Oh - that's the last picture. Well, please do, if you have not already, enjoy the lovely garden of Ms Town Mouse, before you move on - the contrast between our gardening environments is never more evident than on the First Views posting. To share your own garden views with us and others who join in - link your First Views posting via Mr Linky on Ms Town's post.

I'm wondering what my last August's post was like - since this is our blogaversary of the meme we can now begin comparing year over year - which is part of the whole idea... I'm off to have a look...


I do love your manzanitas, the twisty trunks and the flaky vibrant bark! What a privilege to learn photography from Saxon Holt. A little green, twice over.
Carolyn ♥ said…
A lovely walk through your gardens... thank you! Are you in the Pacific Northwest? I miss those foggy mornings.
Wow! -- I'm impressed with your pics as you try our your newly learned skills. Thanks for sharing Holt's tips. P. x
Country Mouse said…
Ah, Carolyn - I forgot to mention - I'm on the Central Coast of California - inland from Santa Cruz by around 6 miles, and on a ridge.
Thanks for commenting, all!
Desert Dweller said…
I definitely see some results there. Amazing photos. And the foggy scenes are a sight to (sun, dry heat) sore eyes!
Carolina Neto said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ryan said…
Really nice photos, especially the ones with the mist. All together they give a really good view of your garden.
Country Mouse said…
Thanks, Ryan - I try to give an objective view of whatever I see when I do the garden shots for this post. While also doing what I can to make the photos well composed - I'm not as strong in that area as my artistic co-mouse, whose photography I really admire! But - we all do what we can.
Your pictures are stunning and I love the fog and spider webs. I really do love your gardens and the 'mess' as you put it makes it even lovelier.