Well. My goodness. Gardening Gone Wild has really souped up the ante on the “Picture This” contest this month. I’ll let the judge set the theme in his own words:
And then it came like an epiphany, easy and clear. We are all learning and growing and marking our progress each day, each moment, with the aspiration to be more aware, more knowledgeable, more fulfilled. And there is no way to still that understanding to one moment in time, one frame. The way we see that frame changes as our perspective does. And what a great thing to be able to look back on that past frame, or out into the world as our current perspective leads us and judge that for what it is now to us at this moment. And that is what I ask of you for this months contest, to give me your best ever. That’s right, the BEST FRAME YOU HAVE EVER CREATED. Your favorite. The one that means the most to you, that conveys what skill you had to bring to bear at its creation and now as you ascertain what it expresses. Your BEST EVER!
In keeping with the GGW scope (and I suspect most of our interests) I ask that it remain garden or plant related. No people portraits or cityscapes. And I will not be able to read the stories behind each image. The image itself has to stand on its own.
I like that last bit. The image has to stand on its own. Oy. So much of the meaning and perspective is wrapped up in the story that goes with the picture!
This challenge has absolutely riveted me for several days. I scrolled through all 14,000+ images in my digital collection. This process was made easier by the caveat that the image chosen for the contest must be plant or garden related. It also made it more difficult, because even though my absolute favorite image is sort of plant related, I don’t think it really qualifies for this contest. This was a penstemon blooming out on one of the pillars of sandstone at the edge of the Grand Canyon. This has always been one of my favorite frames.
While I went through the other images, the ones that are my favorites got copied to my desktop, and we set up a slide show of them. I managed to narrow it down to 30 of what I consider really wonderful images. As they flipped through on the slide show, I started to eliminate images that I realized weren’t really my “favorite”.
I started to understand my mother much better. We used to ask her what her favorite flower was. This was an especially important question when we were children and trying to decide what to give her for Christmas and her birthday, which were two days apart. Her very frustrating answer was, “Whichever one I am looking at.”
The thing is, when you try to decide on something that you consider to be your BEST FRAME EVER, the criteria of choice start to become an issue. What season are we talking about here, anyway? Is it the whole garden I want to feature, or do I like the focus on one plant? What about the denizons of the garden, the birds and bees and spiders and bugs?
Slowly, I winnowed out the images that were really neat, but not “really” my favorite. I have it down to a dozen now. What a noticed is that of my dozen truly favorite images, five of them (almost half) involve the animal life that avails itself of my garden. Personally, I think the animals sort of add to the story in the pictures, and also emphasize my gardening focus which is an organic garden that will provide habitat for wildlife.
But the top dozen shots, in no particular order, appear below. Some of them have appeared previously on the blog. This is not surprising, since they are my favorites.
I’ve always loved the little praying mantis peeking at me over the frilly edge of my reblooming fall iris.
I found this arrangement of leaves and a dead butterfly on the pond in my back yard one fall afternoon.
To me, the bird house in the background of this spider’s web saying “Welcome” is what makes this picture.
This was a zinnia that was blooming in my herb garden, silhouetted against my (long since deceased) gazing ball. A lesson — glass gazing balls will break if a severe thunderstorm throws them against the rocks in your garden.
I’ve always been enthralled by moonflowers blooming. This one was still unfurling when I took this shot.
Tulipa acuminata. Need I say more?
One drop held in the embrace of a hosta after I watered.
Cleome blossom opening. The stamens don’t always make this heart shape for you.
Snow flake on rose hip. This image was a surprise for me, as I was out taking pictures without my glasses on and had no idea that the snowflake was even on the rose hip until I came inside and uploaded the shots I had taken that day.
A little green tree frog on a hosta leaf.
I always called this shot “Guardian of the Peace,” since the crab spider was in a”Peace” rose.
A migrating Monarch butterfly stops for nectar on the torch tithonia in the vegetable garden.
So that’s the field. What I notice is that I tend to like my macro images the best. Even though I have lots and lots of pictures of the whole garden, they rarely get labelled as my favorites. Several of these images leaped to mind immediately as soon as I started thinking about “My Best Frame Ever.”
Once I decide, the die is cast; I don’t think GGW will let me go in and change my entry twenty times. . . or even twice.
After a great deal of thought, and despite the bad image that spiders have, I am choosing the Black and yellow argiope on her web in front of the “Welcome” sign. This image is almost the first one that came to mind as I read the description of the assignment. I truly worked to get the spider and her web in focus while still having the word in the background show up but not dominate. It tells a story, it required effort on my part, I took many shots of this scene. It epitomizes my relationship with my garden and the beneficials that help keep it free of insects. And so she will be my “Best Frame Ever” entry.