Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Chicago has a terrific botanical garden, and Tuesday, the 21st, I made the 1-1/2 hour drive for my initial visit.  Admission to the garden is technically free, but parking is ordinarily $20.  Ouch.  Fortunately, parking for members is free and because I am a Friend of the Mitchell Domes, parking was free for me also.  The Chicago Botanic Garden, as it is called, is several times as large as Milwaukee's Boerner Botanical Garden, as one might expect for a metropolitan area many times the size of Milwaukee's.  In addition, nearly all of the exhibits are outdoors, rather than being under glass, as with the Mitchell Park Domes.

Technically, the Chicago Garden is built on a series of islands in a larger body of water, so there are ample opportunities for aquatic plants, and I shot of a number of those.

I like the composition in the above shot, contrasting the brilliant lily blossom with the relatively dull pad.  It was fairly easy in post processing to darken the pond water.  I feel similarly about the following shot.  It was a bright and sunny day, so generally speaking shutter speed was not a major problem.

Some of the blossoms had extremely colorful interiors, as reflected in the following shot.

Maybe it would have been better to have featured this blossom without its companion, but there it is.

I could have done that with the following shot, but I'm glad I didn't  because I was lucky enough to catch a bee mid-flight between the two flowers.

I just wish there hadn't been a shadow of the larger blossom cast on the pads behind.

Here are a couple of plain, osculating lily pads that I liked at the time I took the shot, though now they look a little, well, plain.  But I did like that I chose to include only a portion of each pad.

OK, as usual, I failed to identify the names of any of the plants that I shot, including the unusual one in the shot below, which I have seen before.  I do wish that a bit more of the plant had been revealed.

Here are a couple of larger scene shots of the gardens.

In general, the grounds were beautiful and extremely well manicured.

And here are a few more blossom shots.  Back . . .

and front.

The shot below appears a bit "soft," but I believe that is the nature of the flower rather than any kind of focus problem.

I like the composition of this shot, despite the notches in two the petals.

Objectively, I suppose, the flower below is relatively mundane in its design, but I was attracted by the out-of-the-ordinary colors.

I think it worked that I included only a portion of the flower and placed the center of the blossom in the lower right of the image.

I wasn't sure what the following "flower" was about, but, in a weird way, I liked how only a portion of the "fingers" were in good focus, because I feel it added depth to the image.

The main building in the garden, which includes offices, meeting and reception halls, etc., has a central courtyard, which featured a number of bonsais.  Although I couldn't see any reference to their age, they looked really old, which is one of the goals of bonsai-ers, I believe.  Each stood 3-4 feet high.

And then there was the yoga swan.  This bird appeared to have little fear of humans, as I was able to approach to within perhaps 20-30 feet without the swan showing any sort of concern.

I say yoga, because the swan spent most of its time standing on one leg.  Although I had to pan out some, I liked that I was able to include the swan's reflection in the pond in this second shot.

Then there were the backlit leaves that I like to shoot.  This first leaf was deceptively plain.  Even though there seems to be a deficit in detail, the leaf is actually in good focus and there is micro-detail visible on close inspection.

And I fell in love with some large hosta-like plants with very pronounced stripes that were accentuated by the backlighting.  I tried to find groups of leaves that were at contrasting angles that would accentuate the lines.  This is the best of those attempts.

There are actually five leaves in this shot.

And here is a leaf with holes chewed in it by some sort of pest.

Geri finally figured out that this must have happened when the leaf was still curled up when the insect could chew through several layers at once.

Finally, here is a nice flower (gladiolus?) that I was able to position against a dark background.

I definitely will be returning to this venue.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Nikkor 24-120 mm, Nikkor 70-300 mm, and Tamron 90 mm macro lenses.


  1. John,
    Your shots are so 'clean'. Do you find flowers and leaves this way or do you clean them up before you shoot? Either way is fine. At these extremes a fleck of pollen would be a distraction. It makes for a flawless picture.

  2. That is indeed lovely clicks!Great job!