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Tilden Botanical Park: A Learning Experience

Yesterday I went to Tilden in the Berkeley Hills to visit the Botanical Garden. There are two botanical gardens up there, one run by the university and this one run by the East Bay Parks District. It contains only native California plants and entry is free.

Manzanitas are featured prominently in the foothills section of the garden. I felt a bit out of my depth here. I'm coming to terms with new motifs, compositions and light conditions. This is the result and I'm not 100% sure I like it. What I wanted to show was the feeling of enclosure created by the shrubs and the light on the concrete trail. It doesn't really work, I think. It's a learning process and you'll get to watch it here in my LJ. Unless you all unfriend me because I'm not showing enough sheep anymore. :-)
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This is better. It shows off the plastic-like texture of manzanita bark and the shapes the branches contort themselves into.
Manzanita branches
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After a chance meeting in a car park the other day, I know what hummingbirds sound like. They make a kind of whirring, metallic sound. That's what alerted me to one down in the water in the creek that runs through the garden. It was bathing. It was adorable but sadly too small a bird from too far away, so none of my photos came out. But when it was done with its ablutions, it flew up into a shrub near the trail I was on for a nice preening session. I tip-toed closer and got this shot. Here you can see the pink patches on either side of the throat clearly. It's an Anna's hummingbird.
Anna's hummingbird
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He was really getting into sorting out his little feathers.
Anna's hummingbird
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Here's an example of how I'm not coming to grips with the light. It's a pool but it's very hard to see that there's water in it unless you already know. Very odd. I'm not sure what I should have done to get the water to be obviously wet and reflective.
Pool with ferns
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This is better. The play of light and shadow on the ground, the fern and redwoods works well. I particularly like the grey, scrubby background between the trunks. It makes it look all the more mysterious.
Fern and redwood trunks
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Unless you all unfriend me because I'm not showing enough sheep anymore. :-)

Nah - it's wonderful to watch a new Apel unfold. Interestingly, I recently had a conversation with a friend who also grew up in the Cotswolds - we were agreeing that we love the place, but also have a deep fascination with deserts and extreme mediterranean-type landscapes. We're both really fascinated with the SW USA.
The first photo and the last are my favorites. I bet it is fun learning how to work with this new light and other conditions. And who in their right mind would unfriend you?

I am so happy that you have at least got to California. And I bet all the gardens are a wonderful way to spend your down time.

Just south of there In Monterey Bay - I was born. And one of the things I remember about the drive from San Fran to there was going thru the Eucaliptus (sp?) groves. they are so beautiful & the smell is not overwhelming like you would think.

I look forward to hearing more about everything you are doing. Oh- I don't remember reading - did they finally clean your room?
I like all your photos, because they remind me of places I've lived and/or visited. The contrast between the Bay Area and the UK could not be greater, but you have a knack for capturing the beauty of any place you live.

The light will improve as the season changes.
I do find the lighting conditions here very difficult to work with - it can be very bright and harsh and make everything look flat. When I take pictures of my garden, I almost always wait for a cloudy day, which is probably not the best solution, but, as a point-and-click photographer, it works. Unfortunately, it's sunny here a lot.


You got the twisty shapes very nicely on that first picture, and I really like the texture/pattern of the shrub branches in the shot that doesn't show the pool too well....