Freeze Frame

This swan was a ham in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

This swan was a ham and it took a lot of attempts to catch it on film (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

While listening to the radio on my drive in to work, the commentators were discussing photography, explaining that camera use has diminished over the last few decades, replaced by cell phones.  They questioned if photo taking might infringe on our enjoyment of “the moment”, making us unable to truly experience each situation because we’re too busy focusing (literally and figuratively) on taking pictures.  Hmmmm . . .  While in agreement that cameras have been phased out, there are still those of us that like to frame our pictures through a lens, and get excited when we capture a special image.  For me, cell phones just don’t cut it, though I realize they have incredible potential for those that prefer to use them.

Watching your Grandchildren growing up in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

They grow up so fast, capture the stages in pictures (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

As for the potential to lose the moment, I think some of us may walk a fine line in our passion to capture a wonderful photo.  It’s always a conundrum; there is the likelihood of a rewarding image that would capture a moment for eternity, versus a series of fluke mishaps that could result in no useable prospects at all.  It’s a chance some are willing to take, staying behind the scenes in order to best observe and photograph natural occurrences.  When the time comes, you’ll have to decide if stepping away from the festivities to snap a few images is worth the risk of missing out on a special moment.

Framing the photo to create different aspects in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Framing the photo to create a more intriguing aspect (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

That said, I have been taking pictures since my teenage years; my first car, my first cat, my first home, family events, nieces, nephews, our daughter and granddaughter, weddings, special places, the remodeling of our present home, and of course, the evolution of my gardens.  Nothing warms my heart more on a cold, dreary winter day than looking at images of a summer garden in full bloom or a family picnic spread across a lush emerald green lawn.

Magical horse image in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

It took several attempts to capture this magical horse image (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

And nothing can compare to the indefinable thrill felt when you capture “the one” special image that simply takes your breath away.  The way a newborn child looks at its mother.  A spectacular sunset.  Ice glistening over the early morning landscape.  A thunderous waterfall after a heavy rain. And moments when you get lucky and capture the elusive hummingbird while it darts between blossoms (besides hummingbirds, I’ve been trying all year to capture a heron that lives in the stream behind my house).

Dozing sea lions at the Central Park Zoo in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Dozing sea lions at the Central Park Zoo-bet they’d love a Tepur-pedic pillow! (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

As an animal lover, the pictures of our cherished pets are irreplaceable treasures.  I often pull out old albums to look at my first Great Dane, Greta, and how she ran around in the pasture with our Arabian horse, Gracie. Or our cats when they were kittens twenty years ago.  Priceless images of Beauregard, a 200 pound Great Dane curled up on the bed with a 5 pound orange tabby kitten, Tommy. Domestic animals are one thing, but it takes real practice, patience and a bit of luck to capture wild animals doing anything, anywhere.  To get a clean shot with a good background is virtually impossible, which is why I revere nature photographers.

An illustration of form, texture and color in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

An illustration of form, texture and color at Innisfree Garden (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Still, I’m often asked the “how and why” behind getting the images for my web site, and thought you might appreciate a few of my suggestions to help you with your picture taking. But first, let me state for the record that I am an amateur, self taught, hobbyist-not a professional photographer.  As such, I love to photograph for fun, for research, to share experiences, and to preserve memories.  Here are the practices and techniques I recommend for starting out:

1.) Select a comfortable camera that you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to use. Most cameras are capable of taking fabulous photos without a lot of fussing and adjusting (I love Nikon).

2.) If you’re buying a camera with interchangeable lenses, choose a common purpose lens that will allow you to take both scenery and portraits (you can always try more specific lenses later).

3.) If you have a digital camera, take a lot of pictures at a lot of angles, close-up and distance.  Remember-there is no film to waste anymore-and you can delete images you don’t want after.

Keep a camera ready for unexpected visitors in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Keep a camera ready for unexpected visitors like Ethel (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

4.) Beware of the background, I can’t tell you how many times a garbage can (or some other distasteful object) ruined a really good picture.

5.) If at all possible, take scenery photos on cloudy days or in the early morning; as heavy shadowing is your enemy.

6.) If in doubt, defer to your camera’s “automatic” setting.  Especially if you’re in a situation you may never have again.

7.) Patience is often the key to getting a spectacular photo-wait for the moment whenever possible.

The itsy-bitsy Garden Spider in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

An itsy-bitsy Garden Spider sparkling with dew drops (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Over time, images that you take will enrich your life in so many ways; simply by preserving special memories and moments.  Photographing your garden through the seasons will help you during the designing stages, as well as providing encouragement when you see how wonderfully things are evolving.  Pictures are able to reflect gradual changes that take place as the years go by, some far too subtle to notice on a weekly basis. And images taken of other gardens or landscapes will provide ideas and options you can incorporate into your future designs.  By freezing one moment in time, we can provide ideas for change and improvement to our surroundings, and lots of visual entertainment and inspiration along the way.  So get clicking my friends-and enjoy!


  1. I swear, there is no end to your talents!

  2. Three cheers for the old-fashioned digital camera and your magical results with it. I, too, have
    a collection of albums that are great fun to thumb through. They harbor so many pictures that I treasure, among them lucky “shots” of awe-inspiring critters that I was able to get close-ups of, including jewel-toned dragonflies, gorgeously ruffed Barred Owls, and a stunning Marbled Orb Weaver spider (which held it’s ground on a window I was Windexing last fall).

    Three cheers also for your wonderful spirit and abilities, Kathy,

    Thank you, Ann

    • Wow Ann, photographing dragonflies and Barred Owls–that’s incredible! My hat is off to you! I have great difficulty with dragonflies as the usually move too fast for me to focus, and owls . . . only in semi-captivity. We had a great horned owl on our roof one night, but the moment I moved it flew away. That image is preserved in my memory only! I love capturing (on film) spiders and their intricate webs, the whole web making process is quite miraculous to me. Thanks so much for writing, I greatly appreciate your wonderful comments~

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A Garden for All