Friday, October 4, 2013

The Light Fantastic

The word photography is derived from Greek photos for "light" and graphos for "drawing." To some degree you can control the light element by using a flash or portraiture light, but for my hobby of capturing plants, garden scenes and nature I pretty much accept what the sky gives me. The Flora Wonder Blog theme photo (above) is of our original Display Garden, and was taken eleven years ago. My wife and I got in the car and drove only a few hundred feet from our house, but were compelled to stop. It was a volatile May evening with sporadic sun and swirling thunderclouds. A huge rainbow spanned the sky and fantastically capped the garden, and I knew it was time for a photo. Fortunately a camera is always in my car, as soon after I snapped the photo the sky changed and the rainbow disappeared. So it was really just one lucky moment...and I wonder how many of these I have missed.

Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Powder Blue'

The photo of Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Powder Blue' (on left) also was taken with sunlight upon the tree and a dark sky behind, and is much more exciting than the same tree (on right) photographed in a different light on a different day.

Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Pendulum'

This interesting group of Sequoiadendron giganteum 'Pendulum' "characters" was photographed twice, about a year apart. These trees seemed to be communicating with each other, like ancient sages discussing the True Path. Actually they were young teenagers, about fifteen years old. They have since disbanded, as they changed anyway and began to grow into each other. Too bad I couldn't freeze them in time to stay at the same size and shape. As humans we wish our plants would behave and not grow so large, just as we wish with our own bodies.

Acer circinatum

Acer glabrum ssp. douglasii

The Columbia River Gorge

Beacon Rock below Mt. Hamilton in the Columbia River Gorge

The two photos above of Acer circinatum, the "Vine Maple," were taken on the same day on a hike in the Columbia River Gorge. The yellow autumn color was taken at the bottom of the trail, in the lush moist soil near a stream. The red foliage was taken near the top of Hamilton Mountain where the soil was thin and rocky. The same yellow and red fall color occurs with Acer glabrum as well.

Ginkgo biloba in sunlight
Ginkgo biloba on a dull day

We have a Ginkgo corner down by our pond, and on most autumn days the foliage is plain yellow, nothing really dramatic. But when the sun lights them up it is a wonderful improvement.

Komorebi is an interesting Japanese word, and it refers to the interplay of sunlight with trees, in particular when the sunlight is shining through the trees. The word's meaning consists of three parts, although these three parts are never used alone. Ko is "tree," more is "leaking" and bi is "sun." I like the concept of light leaking through, the leaking light. I find it child-like, but not childish. My Japanese wife delights in these scenes and couldn't care less about what species she is looking at.

Forest Park Portland, Oregon

The thirteen photos above are examples of komorebi, at least as I understand it. I won't tell you the trees' names as that is moot, at least in my wife's view. I think it would be an incredible experience to see plants and people through Haruko's eyes, even for just one minute, and I'm sure that her world is most spectacular.

"And remember, Talon, I am Flora, the Goddess of Plants. Did you also know that in the Greek world, Apollo is the Olympian God of Light, the Sun and more? Alectrona is the Goddess of the Sun, Morning and Waking Up. The Japanese believe Amaterasu is the Goddess of the Sun, and for Native Americans, Lakota is God of the Sun. Also know this, Talon, I don't like the term "mythology."
I am 
Flora, I am not a myth."

The Himalayas in northern India


  1. What kind of camera do you use? Your photos are absolutely stunning.

  2. What a cool picture,
    nice blog,
    Got you by google search
    thanks for sharing

  3. Hi Talon,
    Great eye, amazing photos!
    Can you tell me what is the name of the cultivar of the Ginkgo in the sun? I am looking for a columnar ginkgo that will fit my place, and this one looks right. Thanks, Sok