I had recently been to the Wilhelma Botanical gardens in Stuttgart. This is really paradise for a nature lover. They have green houses where humidity, temperature conditions etc are controlled so as to stimulate the ecosystems of the tropical and sub tropical regions, Amazon rainforests, Desert and others, so you can see birds and plants from all over the world. What I really wanted to do was camp out there and see and read about them and sketch them to my hearts content but what I managed to do was take close to a 1000 snaps; which I think is a huge success considering the fact that I had a dissatisfied child tugging and pulling at me every inch of the way, because he was way more interested in the fahrzeuge in the construction site outside than in the exotic flowers inside the glass houses! (I didn`t think a day would come when I would know the kinds and names of different types of automobiles but I do now, he makes sure that I do!) Anyway, if the gardens are so fascinating now in winter, I can`t imagine how they would be with the roses in the rose gardens and the waterlilies in the ponds blooming and with the butterfly house open in the summer.
Taking reference photographs is a bit different from good photography. You don`t necessarily need a good composition since you are going to use photos in different ways to make one layout in your painting. You need to get close up shots for the details, long shots so as to remind you of the general form of the plant or drape or the way it creeps. If you want to use them as is, then go around the plant to get an effective composition but don`t turn or twist the flowers towards you to get a good shot. The curves just wont look natural then. Take them at eye level, crouch for the ones near the ground or stand on a raised platform for a higher shot but don`t shoot from above or below. Early morning or evening light, called the sweet light is the best for taking photos; shadows are long and rich with reflected light. At mid-day, the contrast betwen light and dark is too stark with very few mid tones; shadows are short; no reflected light. But it is not always possible to get the right conditions, I just grab the oppurtunity to take them when ever I can. You can always change the lighting, color, anything you want in your painting, the photos just serve as quick pictorial notes. Sometimes the light can be so beautiful it is difficult to capture anyway with your camera, then its best to jot down a few color reminders.
Below are some flower photos for you. I place them in the public domain as I have taken them and you are free to use them for whatever purpose that you choose. Click to download high-resolution versions:
Autumn has not yet set in in Lörach but theres a chill to the air. Some roses for you:
We had been on a short trip and I took some photos along the way. I find wild growth very attractive.
It’s the most beautiful time of the year now, to be in the park, close to nature. Ours has been newly developed and within a very small area, but it is just a few feet away from the house, and even with children playing around, it feels quite secluded as it is bordered with trees on one side and wide open spaces on the other. One always gets the things one needs at the right time.
The seasons are not quite so distinct here as in the more colder regions. When I first went to Deutschland, I was amazed and delighted at the way the landscape changed as the year progressed. Beautiful, white snow and bare trees in the winter; tulips and daffodils, new leaves and buds growing almost overnight in the spring; bright, colorful masses of flowers hanging from balconies and pleasant temperatures in the summer; the coloured leaves of autumn…… Its not quite like that here, in southern India. Winter is very pleasant with just a bit of cold, if at all. Spring brings in the extra sunshine that we miss subconsciously. Days are longer and we wait with dread for the summer. Aaargh! The heat is intolerable, maximums reaching 47 degrees centigrade. Its like being baked in a large oven, with hot air blowing even at midnight. I believe the British called this town ‘Blaze’ wada for ‘Vijayawada’ , long ago. And then, ah! the sweet monsoons……torrents of rains for one or two months. The thick dust on the leaves of the trees is washed away, cool breezes start flowing, the air feels clean and pure and the smell of the earth which the rains bring…. I confess, I have the urge of eating it.
You can feel the spring air when you step outside. It feels different somehow. The mango trees have put out their tender, yellow-green tiny fragrant flowers. The koels (cuckoos) have started to come and there are butterflies dancing everywhere.
Most of the trees here are evergreen, but some of them start shedding their leaves in the winter and replace them with new growth in the winter but its not that noticeable in that they never become totally bare. This tree is at the front of our house, and though my mom calls it ‘pichi mokka’ (waste plant), I love its growth pattern, the leaves join at the branch with a zig zag and not straight stem, which gives it a necklace like pattern and they wave very prettily with the wind. You can see the new leaves here, with some brown withering leaves at the bottom of the picture. It used to be draped ever so gracefully, from bottom to top with a dark pink bougainvillea tree which used to flower profusely all year long. What a sight they made! But it had to be cut down for practical purposes and when I was not here, otherwise I wouldn’t have let them.
You can see the old leaves as well as the new growth in this snap clearly. Butterflies and wasps are hovering about this tree like crazy, for its tiny white flowers. We get to sit on the stairs and watch them every morn and evening.
I think these white cranes are starting to migrate away. I have taken these shots two or three months back.
I don’t know the names of these little birds, they have a little red colouring under their tails. They are nowhere to be found now, but in winter they used to come in flocks every evening to the trees at the park. They are quite noisy and quarrelsome, I watched these two fighting over a butterfly.