On the Path to Art

– Posted in: Garden Photography

Note the hint of fall color down this path past the Ash trees…..

This will be a bit of a challenge.  Photos are supposed to tell a story, so I present a series of photos without comment.

The set up:  I was in Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon looking to add two photos into my lecture “Finding the Photo”.  I always try to add photos that are current and local in all my presentations, so the day before my workshop I set out to find a photo myself.  I assumed I could find something in the Arboretum and headed toward the Maple section hoping to find some fall color.

The lesson tip, from the upcoming PhotoBotanic Garden Photography Workshop, is to look for an interesting point of view.

Look what I found as I headed down the path:holt_1121_002.CR2holt_1121_006.CR2holt_1121_009.CR2holt_1121_012.CR2A simple exercise.  I hope you followed as I pointed my camera through the branches and up under the orange foliage shrub, Cotinus ‘Grace’.  Backlit from underneath any fall foliage tree or shrub, you will find a stained glass window when you look up.  Be sure to overexpose by about two stops.

In my personal work I am increasingly turning to abtraction, interpretations of what I see.  My vision has changed radically in recent years and I find when I am in a garden I look beyond the details into shapes and patterns that express fleeting impressions.  Perhaps I have been admiring too much Jackson Pollack…

The image looking out from under the Ash trees toward the glowing Cotinus started as this raw image, progressed to a glowing pattern, and was reduced to an abstract expressionist charcoal drawing.


I am enjoying this path to art.  Hooray for gardens.

Saxon Holt
Saxon Holt is the owner of PhotoBotanic.com, a garden picture resource for photographs, on-line workshops, and garden photography stories. An award winning photojournalist and Fellow of The Garden Writers Association with more than 25 garden books, he lives and gardens in Northern California. PhotoBotanic - Garden Photography online at www.photobotanic.com. https://photobotanic.com
Saxon Holt

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Sharon October 25, 2014, 2:13 pm

Your new path will be exciting to watch and your new work is beautiful. As much as I’ve always loved your work I eagerly anticipate what’s coming.

Thanks Sharon – I am eager to show it. More soon – Saxon

Lauren October 25, 2014, 4:14 pm


Saxon Holt October 25, 2014, 7:06 pm

Thanks Lauren – I really liked what happened with the colors too. Please contact me off line to discuss permission to paint. – Saxon

Carole October 25, 2014, 7:51 pm

Inspiring! Thanks for the tips.

Nick Baker October 26, 2014, 3:58 am

Great photos, really like the complexity and the colors. Another reason why fall is my favourite time of year…

Saxon Holt October 26, 2014, 8:55 am

Thanks for dropping by Carole

Saxon Holt October 26, 2014, 8:56 am

Gardens provide the art. We just go out and enjoy it.

wayne r. martinson October 26, 2014, 4:28 pm

What a wonderful lesson…and you showed the progression from photo to drawing very nicely. Thanks, again.

Thanks Wayne – The lesson is really about seeing the patterns. The color and the black and white are very different really and create different responses. – Saxon

Felicity November 1, 2014, 3:26 am

I’ve been a long time silent follower. I just wanted to say thank you for all your wonderful inspiring tips and hints. So inspired i have just started my own writing, in it’s very early stages ATM!!

Donna November 2, 2014, 4:16 pm

Hi Saxon. I have been away for a few months, but on a recent trip I was in awe of pattern and detail. It is all around us if we only let it fill our frames – mind and camera. I also think the “fleeting impressions” make lasting impressions, reinforcing the beauty each season brings.

Saxon Holt November 7, 2014, 9:19 pm

Nice to hear from you. We also need to learn to trust our eye

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