My wife wanted to go take pictures, but she asked if we could go some place that had lots of flowers. She loves colorful floral gardens. We visited the Park of Roses during their annual Rose Festival a few years ago and Mary Rose was in the mood for something of that sort.
I have spent a lot of time photographing wildflowers. Most parks have a lot more to shoot than just flowers, so, I was eager to spend some time together taking pictures.
We Chose Franklin Park Conservatory
Located in Columbus, Ohio, Franklin Park Conservatory features an outdoor garden with a large display of day lilies, ground-cover plants, shrubs, and a Japanese garden. Inside the building is a bonsai room, an orchid room, a tropical forest and other bioms. I took pictures of day lilies and other flowers. In this post I’d like to talk about those “other things” you’ll find in many parks.
Franklin Park Conservatory’s main building, the Palm House, always intrigued me. I love all of the windows and the framework that holds the structure together. I love the domed roof, the white doors, and smaller circular domes. The grounds are beautifully decorated.
Gear of Choice
I put on my Tamron SP AF28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di lens and a 67mm polarized filter and took the shots you see above. Adjusting the focal length until the image was framed with the trees on both sides, the garden wall and flower pots visible in the foreground and plenty of rich blue sky above, I focused and clicked the shutter.
The shot of the sculpture (above) was taken about two minutes before I took the one of the building. I wanted to catch the sunlight on those metal “sails” and frame the image to capture all three pieces with a break in the trees directly behind the center sail. A polarized filter really brought out that blue sky.
Ground Cover Plants
There are so many beautiful flower beds in the park that it is often easy to overlook some of the most interesting ground cover plants. I found this little plant (below) nestled among a bed of day lilies and daisies. Its spiky foliage is really cool and makes for a good image. I picked out the most appealing cluster I could find and took the shot.
Another day, my wife and I made a trip to Ault Park in Cincinnati. There again, the park contained a lot of photo opportunities in addition to the usual flowers, blossoming trees, and other plant life.
The main structure at Ault Park has a multi-platformed stairway that includes a cascading waterfall. Between the stairway, bannister, columns, and finials, one could shoot the same structure for a good while and capture an array of interesting photos. I took the shot at an eighth of a second shutter speed to make the water look as though it is flowing down the stairs.
After taking a bunch of shots at the stairway and cascades, we turned our attention to the statues and large decorative urns throughout the gardens. I photographed the urns to capture their intricate designs and wonderful textures. Together, we walked away with a bunch of interesting shots. Here is one sample.
When you visit a park, walk the grounds. Look for interesting fences, stairways, fountains, and garden paths. Take note of shadows cast by any structures or statuary. Look for interesting plants that many people overlook. Almost everyone with a camera will catch the obvious, that spectacular rose, or that perfect lily. They will not even notice the statues, urns, the buildings, even bird feeders.
Don’t miss a great photo opportunity, and watch the lighting. You might get excellent results if you wait until the shadows get long and most of the other park visitors have gone home.
NOTE: Franklin Park Conservatory management decided to fence in the complex and the surrounding ten acres and charge people a pretty stiff fee to gain access to the outdoor gardens. I remember when the Palm House (that main structure) was free admission. I used to take my son there when he was a toddler. Inner city poor folks can no longer enjoy the place like they once did. It is free admission on the first Sunday of every month, other than that, it will cost you to get inside or walk the gardens.