Picture This Photo Contest – June 2011

– Posted in: Garden Photography

Written by Josh McCullough

I’m always thrilled when a returning judge graces GGW’s Picture This with his talent, expertise, and energy. Joshua McCullough, whose last stint as a Picture This judge was June 2010, is back once again; without a doubt, he will inspire and motivate a slew of you to come out and play. Josh is the creator of PhytoPhoto, a specialist collection of expertly identified botanical, horticultural and environmental photos; images are supplied to a wide variety of print mediums. His work is magnificent…..Fran Sorin

Subject for this month: SHOW THE MOTION

Motion blur caused by long exposures, or more precisely exposures not short enough to still motion, are often thought of as the enemy of the photographer but may in fact be used for a variety of purposes- everyone is familiar with the look of a waterfall or other moving water source left exposed for enough time to blend the coursing water into a pleasing “mist”. Other opportunities include the dynamic interest added by the sense of motion, highlighting static elements such as a bench or wall in contrast to the motion surrounding them, showing action with the course of a motion trail, or in much longer exposures often measured in minutes or hours, the motion trail of stars or to exclude from showing the surging crowd at a public space.

To accomplish these long exposures the easiest thing to do is simply wait for low light, often near or even after dark and put the camera on a tripod or use the built in images stabilization. If working with the wind even a tenth of a second can show significant motion. For other situations lower the recorded light by first adjusting the camera to the lowest ISO setting (usually 25, 50 or 100), clamping down the aperture to the smallest setting (often f/32 though much lower in compacts) if this will not affect the image negatively and lastly, employing neutral density filters to cut the incoming light (typically a 2 to 10 f-stop reduction but available to much higher levels). Try a second or two or ten, either adjusting the camera or waiting for it to be dark enough for its automatic exposure to pick these longer times. Play with night time mode/slow synchro or first/second curtain flash if you are feeling more devious.

Here are a few examples…

Water flowing over a period of time. In the first six second exposure the Darmera are better shown as isolated within the mass of moving water.

Darmera peltata_9407- Photo #1

In Ketzel Levine’s lovely fountain there is a sense of action as the water strikes and bubbles, in the third a more classic treatment of a waterfall at Oakwood Gardens and the fourth image more about the movement of the barely submerged leaves at the Portland Japanese Garden.

Ketzels Fountain_8008- Photo #2 

Oakwood Gardens_0610-Photo #3

Portland Japanese Garden_4886-Photo #4

Here two garden examples, first the wall and water feature at the fabulous garden of designer Laura Crockett is rendered more immutable by the ephemeral almost ghostly movement of the grasses, and second the movement of the Katsura branch at Lisa Albert’s is both startling and compelling.

Laura Crockett_4124-Photo #5

Lisa Albert_8434 #6

On the other end of the spectrum is this dark, chaotic and moody rendering of Lantana for a piece on invasive species. I wanted it to look disturbing!

Lantana camara_9574-#7

And at this winemaking shoot (wine is a plant too!) at Cana’s Feast Winery I used movement to tell a story of how the work progressed.

Crush at Canas Feast_9859

Playing with large sweeps of perennials it is always tempted to blend them together in an almost painterly fashion by allowing enough time to record the movement of the plants as in this image from Oakwood Gardens.

Oakwood Gardens_6480

Stars in Joshua Tree_5557a

And here the new sunset bench I exposed for a full second even right into the sun to allow the blowing wind to soften the grasses and help highlight the solidity of the bench.

Bench at Sunset_0129

The main idea is to capture the continuity in what would otherwise be a single moment. It can be like using the camera for an entirely different purpose- instead of stopping one instant you are recording a whole segment of time. Remember, it is not out of focus, it is motion. Try it out, see what you think and post your best to the blog. Many thanks to Fran and everyone at GGW for hosting yet another month of what is surely the most fabulous plant and garden photo contest on the web!


1.  You must have an active blog in order to participate. To be eligible for judging, you need to leave us TWO LINKS – a direct link to the image, and a link to your blog post that includes the image (and that says you are entering the Gardening Gone Wild Picture This Photo Contest )– in a comment on this post. Your links need to be correct in order for your photo to be entered into the contest. If need be, check out previous Picture This contests to see how others have done it.

2. You are allowed one entry per contest; your photo must be able to be copied from your site. That makes it possible for us to collect all the entries in one place for easier judging.

3. The long side of the image needs to minimally be 800 pixels

4. Because of the enormous amount of responses we receive, you can’t change your mind once you enter a photo into the contest.

5. The deadline for entries is 11:59 PM Eastern time on Friday, June 25, 2011.

Entries that meet the above rules will be added to a separate gallery page. If you enter but your photo does not appear in the gallery within 72 hours, please review your entry to make sure you followed the rules.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at www.fransorin.com.

Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest  

Fran Sorin
32 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Lynn June 6, 2011, 6:07 am

Do you have any hints as to how to achieve the motion look that we’re going for if we don’t have a camera with settings as you described. I have a Panasonic DMC-TZ1. I can switch to ‘sports’ ‘nighttime’ etc but not the F stop settings. My brother didn’t give me the book that came with the camera. It does have a setting for ‘slow shutter… 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 but that’s about it. Last night I set my camera on a piece of wood pointing to begonias in my garden. I hit the plant with one hand as I clicked with the other. The pictures didn’t show any movement what so ever. I’d love to partake in this challenge but don’t know how I can achieve it. Any suggestions?

Josh June 7, 2011, 3:27 am

Lynn, glad you are taking up the call to motion! Though there are lots of ways to do it on your camera a quick trick it to use the “Fireworks” scene mode at or just after dusk on a moving subject. It select a long exposure to show the complete “motion” of the firework (or anything else!) exploding. Try it. -J

Hoover Boo June 7, 2011, 2:43 pm

Lynn if it helps you can google up the manual for that camera and download it for reading.

Lynn June 8, 2011, 5:20 am

Thank you both for your help. I will give it a whirl!!!

Christine Mack June 12, 2011, 10:32 pm

Alrighty. This is my first time entering this so I hope I did this correctly. Here is the link to the blog post:


and the direct link to the photo:


Joshua McCullough June 13, 2011, 1:22 pm

Christine, that is fantastic!

Cathy June 14, 2011, 4:50 am

When I saw this contest, the first thing that popped into my head was all of the pictures I’ve taken over the last few months with something – someone’s hand, the dog’s tail, plants, or trees – moving in it that I relegated to the trash bin. (That old “one woman’s trash is another’s treasure” thing again.)

Here is a link to the post I wrote:

And here is my contest entry:

As always, I learn so much from these contests. Thanks so much!

Christine Mack June 15, 2011, 9:22 am

Thank you very much Josh!

Cathy Chadwick June 17, 2011, 6:20 pm

Well, this was a tough subject. I am not sure I was particularly successful, but as I entered last month, I thought I would give it a whirl this month too. Besides, it was fun experimenting with settings I haven’t ever used before so thank you for that!
Here is the blog post link:
And here is the link to the actual photo:
I hope this works.

Donna@GWGT June 19, 2011, 7:06 pm
Donna June 19, 2011, 11:13 pm

I guess I am like Lynn and have to try it again. I did check them and they worked, so try it again.
Blog post: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/2011/06/20/ggw-motion-blur-at-niagara-falls/

Image url: http://orchardparkway.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/water-1.jpg

Josh June 20, 2011, 11:26 am

Very nice! Some really innovative ideas, love the bike race Teresa! Thanks and keep ’em coming.

Klasse im Garten June 21, 2011, 7:42 am

my first time as well, like Christines. Hope everything’s ok.

blog link: http://klasse-im-garten.blogspot.com/2011/06/na-sowas-noch-gar-kein-kig-post-uber.html

image link: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-mYgLevOLoT8/TfomMc7TscI/AAAAAAAAARI/I5ZEKbUOXEc/s1600/amsel1.jpg

btw, wonderful movement in the images till now :D.

Teresa June 21, 2011, 11:13 pm

Thank you Josh, It is such a fun event and great for taking pictures of with all the bright colors that bicyclists wear!

Katina June 22, 2011, 10:38 pm

Thanks for getting me outside taking pictures every night…of course the neighbors probably know me as the crazy lady who lays in the front yard now…

blog entry: http://gardeninginaustin.blogspot.com/2011/06/motion.html

photo itself: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-rysQYexOJ9o/TgKu7PSnzrI/AAAAAAAAFi4/hV_uKXBtCUU/s1600/feathergrass.JPG

Autumn Belle June 23, 2011, 11:21 am

Thanks for the learning opportunity. I’d love to improve myself, hence any feedback will be much appreciated.

My blog post url is here:

The link to the photo:

Hoover Boo June 23, 2011, 8:10 pm

What a struggle. I never did get a satisfying shot, and the more I tried, the worse the pictures got, but it was educational: I played with camera settings I never played with before. Thanks for getting me more acquainted with my camera! 🙂

blog post:


photo direct link:

Caroline June 23, 2011, 8:55 pm

My entry for this month’s ‘Picture This’ contest is a silly bit of whimsy–hope you enjoy it. Thanks to GGW for hosting the contest and Josh for judging!

Blog post:

Photo link:

John June 24, 2011, 9:58 am

Hi, fun concept to play with. I went after our fireflies as dynamic elements in the garden.



Photo Link:

Craig @ Ellis Hollow June 24, 2011, 9:40 pm

A real challenge this month. The reward: it opened my eyes to opportunities to take more pictures at a time of the day when my camera is usually back in the bag.

The blog post: http://remarc.com/craig/?p=1285

The image: http://ellishollow.remarc.com/images/20110624misinmotionx2400.jpg

Malinda June 24, 2011, 10:59 pm

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