The Garden of Good and Evil

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“Truth, like art, is in the eye of the beholder. You believe what you choose and I’ll believe what I know.”  ~ Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

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For the past few years I’ve had the privilege of photographing public gardens for Horticulture Magazine.  My last assignment took me to Alcatraz, the last place you would expect to find beautiful gardens and landscape.  Quick history, this maximum federal prison in the San Francisco Bay closed it’s doors in 1963, along with the gardens cultivated by the prison’s inmates. In 2003, the Garden Conservancy, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and National Park Service began a collaboration to restore the gardens.

I was able to capture the images needed for the magazine feature before high sun.  With time to spare on the island, we were given a backstage pass to the upper levels of the prison and to the Ai Weiwei exhibit, which was on its last day of viewing.

In the prison, we were ushered to the upper deck of Block C and given access to the lever which secures the entire cell block.  Standing in the darkness, the sound of 50 cells slamming shut, with the final latch of the deadbolt, is a sound you want to quickly erase from your tape.  I took a moment to stand inside a cell and decided to capture a few images looking out and across the aisle.  Clearly, this place was designed to house the worse of the worst.

The bonus of the visit was the Ai Weiwei @Large exhibit.  We happened to be on the island on the last day of the Exhibit and our host generously walked us through. “Ai Weiwei is a Chinese Contemporary artist and activist.  A political activist, he has been highly and openly critical of the Chinese Government’s stance on democracy and human rights.  After many arrests and incarcerations in China,  Ai Weiwei was, in July of 2015, given a passport and is now allowed to travel abroad. If you are interested and would like to learn more about Ai Weiwei and his art, this is a wonderful article. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/sep/24/ai-weiwei-alcatraz-lego-extraordinary

If you have a bird phobia, you’ll want to make note that Alcatraz is a nesting colony for Western Gulls.  There were a few Hitchcock moments.

 

Without further ado, here are my favorite images from Pier 33 to Alcatraz and back.  Enjoy! ✌🏾

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Now it gets real.

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Let’s Party

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Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’ ~ Robin Williams

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While it seemed like spring arrived in NoCal months ago, the rest of the country is finally starting to see the signs of warmer temps with blossoms blooming.  Spring has officially sprung!  So let’s party!

Last spring I had the privilege of shooting two of the most prestigous public gardens in California for Horticulture Magazine;  Hakone Gardens and Filoli.  Both gardens are located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains, to which I call home.  Filoli is a country house with 16 acres of formal gardens surrounded by a 654-acre estate, located in Woodside, CA.  Filoli has served as the set for many Hollywood films.  Many of you will recognize it as the mansion seen in the opening credits of the television series Dynasty.  Hakone Gardens is a traditional Japanese garden in Saratoga, California.  It is recognized as one of the oldest Japanese-style residential garden in the Western Hemisphere.  I believe Hakone served as set for the films Snow Falling on Cedars and Memoirs of a Geisha.

When my journey as a professional photographer began, my lens focused primarily on landscapes and flowers.  Over a decade later, I am a lucky girl to have been able to maintain this focus while adding a few other ingredients to my repertoire.  For those of you who need a dose of spring, take a few minutes and take a virtual walk through these breathtaking gardens. 🌸

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Thermal

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“The teacher is the one who gets the most out of the lessons, and the true teacher is the learner.” ~ Elbert Hubbard


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Lessons in riding, photography and life.  The child had a wonderful experience during her three weeks in the desert.  She did her job in moving the pony named Mickey along to his next adventure, she entered the jumper ring for the first time with great success on a horse named Heid-n-Seek; and, she got back together with her best friend, Charly, who, together went on to great things in the hunter ring.  I am not sure what she would say was the highlight of her time in the desert.  Possibly winning on Charly, maybe successfully completing her first jumper course, or, perhaps simply being in the same warm up ring with US Olympian, Rich Fellers and Flexible.

The photographer “borrowed” a lens for the second half of the adventure…  borrowedlens.com is my new favorite hangout.  I’m one of the lucky photographers that lives within 5 miles of this little golden nugget, allowing me on a moments notice to go in and grab whatever new and exciting piece of equipment I need or just want to have for a play date.

The shooting was phenomenal.  The desert landscape was extraordinary with the first weekend blasting us with winter like conditions.  This winter storm resulted in snowfall on the nearby San Jacinto Mountains which created breathtaking views from the jumper rings.  Down jackets and snow gear were required.  Two days later, the temps rose and out came the shorts and t-shirts.  The shooting was more interesting during the cold snap, as the hot desert sun (after about 9:30 a.m.) makes for not-so-pretty pictures.  Much of my success was either before 10:00 a.m. or as the sun was setting.  Afternoon breaks allowed for being a spectator watching the elite line up of international riders who were flocking to Thermal for the AIG Thermal $1 Million Grand Prix.  Another story for another day.

I share with you some of my favorite shots from this last adventure.  The journey will take us in the coming months to elementary school graduation, a couple of garden shoots, a celebratory trip to Spain and horse shows around CA…all of this leading up to the child starting a new chapter as she enters middle school.   Wish me luck, Charly (if have a child who is 10, you get it).  ~ Peace!  J>

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ImageGoodbye Thermal ~

Flower Power✌

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Quote of the Day:  “Open up for the Power of the Flower.” ~ Praga Khan

I have spent the last five days with the “flower children”.  This is how I refer to my friends and artists who thrive, in some capacity, in the world of horticulture.  Some are publishers of fine garden and horticulture magazines, some are garden designers, garden writers and garden photographers.  Their common denominator, they are all true gardeners.

The sun was shining on me a year ago when my favorite flower child, Patty Craft, Managing Editor and Publisher of Horticulture Magazine (also, my sister), invited me to join her at San Francisco Flower and Garden Show media pre-view event.  While I was not asked to “officially” shoot ” for her magazine, they ended up using some of my photos for their article on the show.   It was the blossoming of a new and lovely relationship.

Also on that day, I met my second favorite flower child, Rebecca Sweet.  Rebecca, is a landscape designer, author, freelance writer, garden blogger; and, unbeknownst to her, the complete force behind my leap into the blogging world.  Several months after our meeting, Rebecca invited me to a luncheon at her home with renowned garden photographer, Saxon Holt.  Sitting in Rebecca’s garden with these two revered artists, I gained a wealth of information and inspiration.  It was after that meeting that I turned the corner with Woodside Images .  From these two masters, I learned that I needed to create a unique niche for my style of photography, promote myself shamelessly; and, most importantly, start blogging about it.

Patty and Rebecca at Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto, CA.

I am a Gemini and my personality is true to its sign.  Gemini world is one of duality.  This can also possibly explain and help describe my style of photography; or, if you will, the unique niche I’ve created.  Some days it’s all about horses and other days it’s a walk in the garden.   It’s been whispered, that in order for me to be successful as an artist, it would be wise to choose between the two.  Flowers and horses have been good to me for a very long time.  Both are an inspiration to my art and to my soul.  In staying true to myself as an artist and a Gemini, I choose both!  Enjoy!