Summer Purples

Blooms – Wheaton, Maryland

Blooms, blooms, and more blooms. When you visit anyplace that figures “gardens” prominently in their title, it’s a good bet that there will be lots and lots of blooms to view and appreciate – such is the case with Brookside Gardens. The last time I was here was nearly two decades ago and it’s had major improvements during my absence – elevated boardwalks, a new visitors center, many plantings that I don’t recall – the list goes on.

It’s funny… I absolutely hated visiting places like this when I was a kid. My mom was big into flowers and gardening, and would drag me practically kicking and screaming to various professional gardens whenever we moved to a new state. And now? Now I love them and seek them out.

The change for me was my last photography job, where I worked in an audiovisual 24/7 sweatshop down on K Street NW in Washington, DC. I was hired there in the spring of 1988 initially as the sole optical photographer (everyone else was a Genigraphics computer artist), and I worked excessively long hours shooting all of the optical images that we produced – many hundreds of thousands of images by the time I left there some four years later. Product shots, studio shots, composite insertion shots, black and white Kodalith slides, E-6 color duplication slides, Ektachrome slide composites – you name it, I shot it.

All of this photography work was done in a dark room. Scratch that… all of this was done in a completely BLACK room, including the ceiling and floors. Due to cross contamination issues from any other color source, every square inch of that room was painted flat matte pitch black, and every crack that emitted light was sealed tightly shut. When the lights went out – which was 90% of my hours each work day – that room was the complete absence of all light. It was black-hole-level-of-darkness personified. And believe me, that wasn’t a job for anyone with nyctophobia or vertigo.

By the time I was six months into that job, I began seeking out anything that wasn’t black. By the time I left it, I was addicted to pure color. Bright color. Saturated color. Jackhammer-to-the-eyes color. And I discovered that one of the very best places to find pure unadulterated colors were the professional gardens, which I have loved and enjoyed visiting ever since.


Photo info:
Flower blooms
Brookside Gardens
Wheaton, Maryland
July 2021
Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO Macro lens
Sony a7 III digital camera

Gorgeous Blooms

Blooms – Wheaton, Maryland

While I do have an extensive back catalog of older digital and 35mm film photographs that I share here, I break out my “big” digital camera on occasion when I want images that I still can’t create on the iPhone. Cell phone cameras have certainly come a long way in a very short period. It seems like just yesterday – actually early January 2007 – when the original iPhone was introduced. That was only 14-½ years ago! Granted, there were cell phone cameras prior to that date, but they captured images that were small, grainy, and generally lacking all the way around.

Cut to the cell phone cameras of today, and some are really giving the big cameras a run for their money. Where cell phone cameras are still lacking is natural-looking bokeh – the out-of-focus areas in a photo that are a function of image chip size and large lens apertures. However, the computational post-processing used by all cell phones cameras of today is making huge leaps in image quality and capability – so I feel that it’s just a matter of time before cell phone camera images equal or exceed what big cameras can take.


Photo info:
Flower blooms
Brookside Gardens
Wheaton, Maryland
July 2021
Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO Macro lens
Sony a7 III digital camera

Over Two Decades of Progress

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) – Wheaton, Maryland

Here is a comparison of two different images taken 24-years apart. The top image was taken yesterday, and the bottom image was taken back in 1997. The top image is digital, and the bottom image is a scan from a 35mm slide. They were taken an entire continent apart from one another, in different light, and at different times of the day. The top image I could see instantly and the bottom image I couldn’t see until the film was returned to me after processing a couple of weeks later.

As much as I’ve always loved the super-saturated colors of the bottom image – Velvia slide film is known for that – I feel that the upper image is more accurate in terms of color, saturation, and natural-looking bokeh.

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) – Laguna Beach, California

Technology marches on. I imagine someday that I’ll be able to take a photo with a smartphone that will eventually equal or exceed the quality of either of these two images, both of which were taken with state-of-the-art camera gear of each era.


Photo info:
Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)
Brookside Gardens Conservatory
Brookside Gardens
Wheaton, Maryland
June 2021
Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO Macro lens
Sony a7 III digital camera

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)
Heisler Park
Laguna Beach, California
May 1997
Fujifilm Velvia 50 slide film
Leica Noctilux 50/1.0 lens
Leica M3 35mm film camera