Outdoors Magazine

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

Posted on the 26 January 2016 by Hollis
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Last week I left home all bundled up, walked through cold blowing snow, opened a door, and entered the warm verdant stillness of a forest of fig, lipstick and butterfly trees. In the understory grew bromeliads, bamboos, orchids, and plants I remembered from our yard in California long ago. It was a magical transition!

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

Bird-of-paradise awakened childhood memories. Photo by Betsy Jo Moore.

Betsy and I spent several hours in the Williams Conservatory (University of Wyoming), intent on improving our camera skills. We didn’t look at all that many plants, waylaid as we were by technicalities. But it hardly mattered—there still was so much to see!All around were splashes of bright colors. Betsy captured them in beautiful flower portraits.

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

Photo by Betsy Jo Moore.

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

Photo by Betsy Jo Moore.

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

Photo of Betsy Jo Moore.

Meanwhile, I fell down a rabbit-hole into a wonderland of leafy abstraction.
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Several years ago I blogged about abstract photographyPlants in the Abstract. Things haven't changed; it's still just as fun and satisfying. The abstract photographer looks at plants in non-traditional ways, seeking things like pattern, line, form and texture. It’s a fascinating experience, full of discovery. Immerse yourself in it, and you can escape whatever reality you’re currently stuck in.

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

This is obviously a plant. But high-lighted curving lines feel like the subject to me.

There was no shortage of patterns, curves, details and arrangements to capture with my macro lens (and tripod). It’s astounding how much I don’t see when I look at a plant, preoccupied as I am by the whole subject and its larger parts.
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Bromeliad leaves.
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Cactus areoles.
Escape to a Warmer Greener World

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

I entered a miniature Enchanted Forest …

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

… atop a giant barrel cactus!

The umbrella sedges (Cyperus alternifolius) looked like the ones we had in our backyard as kids. It was here that I took my only flower photos.

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

Flower head shot with macro as telephoto (100 mm).

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

Many tiny flowers in a cluster of spikes.

By making close carefully-framed compositions, I came away with a greater appreciation for the plants than my eyes alone would have provided. Will this ever be possible without a camera?

Escape to a Warmer Greener World

How to look closely—one of life’s persistent questions.


My escape didn’t end when I left the Conservatory. At home, I discovered more details after downloading the photos. I cropped profusely, and played around with post-processing.
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Escape to a Warmer Greener World

Sometimes converting to black-and-white got rid of distracting color.
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Escape to a Warmer Greener World

It was fun to experiment, even to the point of creating surrealistic images from subjects that were quite real. I was reminded of one of Ann McKinnell's recent photo tips (#4): “Give yourself permission to play! Sometimes you just need to allow yourself to experiment with new subjects and techniques without the pressure of making good images.”
Escape to a Warmer Greener World
Escape to a Warmer Greener World

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