The garden turns to summer

The crowds thin out as spring turns to summer at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens - the peak of the blossoms has passed and the roses have moved on. The lilacs are gone and the blue bells look like weeds. But there's still so much to enjoy.

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These two were overly patient as I got up close during their date by the pool.

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The rose garden is already on the way out but a few bushes are blooming strong. Gardeners spend the entire year preparing for a little over 2 weeks of transitional bloom, all trying to time it to maximize the bloom during one week when the garden puts on Rose Night. It's a wild endeavor - they can't see the fruits of their work for nearly a year, have little ways to tell if what they're doing is making a difference, but combine technology, tradition, and art to make it all come together.

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The crane only comes out for the evening crowds.

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Contact Sheet: Blooms in Motion

Using just a bit of camera motion while taking a frame can send a photo in many different directions. From the mildly edgy to the wildly abstract, very small movements make a lot of change. Here my goal was explore the different ways that a little bit of speed and different approaches to focus and shutter speed affected the final image. 

One thing that became apparent is that showing just a little blur was much worse than going overboard - it looked more like a mistake of craft rather than an intentional artistic move. I also found myself enjoying those where there was more of a clearly defined single element around which the background moved. Achieving this is quite difficult because it requires keeping the camera at a very steady plane while rotating the camera and moving it through while hitting the shutter. But it was worth it to learn a new method.

Rites of a Spring Deferred

Spring's clearest symbols for me have for years been budding blossoms, matzoh, and hiking without base layers. But what happens when snow comes and the boldest of the buds shrivel and die? Perhaps it was an opportunity for a more nuanced look at the transition into spring.

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Roasted carrots aren't what I usually think about when thinking about spring but when I saw a recipe for a harissa aioli with rosemary over roasted carrots I knew I had to try it at the seder I was hosting. And a seder - that beautiful mix of pagan and Jewish traditions and stories - well, that's about as springy as you get.

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Taking a break from passover brought me to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. While usually things are just starting to pop up this time of year, this was definitely a shivery time for the brave buds. Magnolias, Cherry Blossoms, and more are getting ready for the big reveal after nearly a year of sleep. These first ones are likely to wilt and fall away as the temperatures dropped away again but the warmth and with it, life, is coming back later in the week.

I chose to focus on the contrast of the few buds emerging from the wiry sticks and stems blending macro and extreme open apertures.

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Vancouver

When snow-capped mountains meet rain forest, nature expresses itself in dazzling arrays of emotions, sounds, and sights. Where fresh fish, local and sustainable cooking, artisanal craftsmanship, and heavy Asian influences mix, food is distinct and memorable (huzzah sriracha maple bacon!). And when Canadians are Canadians, they'll climb over ledges of snow to save sunglasses for you.

On the rocky shores

For my first visit to the Pacific Northwest, I had no idea what to expect and Vancouver opened my eyes to a culture connected to nature in ways I've never encountered before. I go to the Catskills, Hudson Highlands, and Adirondacks often and love the hikes whose trail heads spawn just a few hours from New York City. But that connection is different. It's in everything from the prevalence of bike lanes to how the city gets its electricity. It's about the size of the parks and commitment to land preservation. It's about sustainable development that's good for both the city and in reverence for the land around it.

Sea to Sky and so much inbetween

From our first day out on the rocky beaches of the shore to exploring Vancouver island, I was struck by the lush greens and moody sprawling skies. For those of us used to the muted palette of the east coast mountain ranges, this was like walking through an enchanted forest. Old growth forests protect a vast ecosystem of moss, lichen, bulbs, and so much more. Even a little mountain lion pee.

Canada Geese in their natural habitat before getting bundled into jackets

As I tuned into the subjects and light that drew my eye, I realized that being present meant more than communing with the Earth. As I slowed down to take in different vistas, I also began to tune out those around me. I love how photography has made me more aware of my surroundings, but as I went deeper into composition I also lost the main reason I was out here in the first place: travel with my partner and friends.

I'm still learning how to strike a balance - one where I can be attentive to and embrace my love of photography but also where I'm fully present with the people I love. Maybe it's about making clearer distinctions about when I'm in the "photography zone" or setting aside specific times of the day for it. Clearly something to work on. But I learned over the trip that as much as I love photography, the greater need is to be fully with the people I love. For while these moments and memories give me real pleasure, it's the moments with people that cap them all.