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January 27th, 2011

how to see a zucchini

2010 found me shooting more photos for Organic Gardening. In the Feb/March 2011 issue, you’ll find a photo that I consider to be a personal victory.  Meet the ‘Cavili’ zucchini.

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Most of the test garden photos come very easily for me. I try to get to the garden at 6:30 or 7 once a week when the sun is low and both the plants and I are fresh and un-wilty. It’s quiet there, and (after I chatter with Brad, Josh, and Lisa) I’m quiet, too, and settle in to find my angles and frames. Kneeling in the dirt, away from in box and voice mail and office distractions, taking photos is a meditation. Moving the camera even half an inch can completely change the composition for me, and I can get lost in seeing the same thing in so many different ways.

Sometimes I get stuck.

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The zucchini and I were at a standoff for 3 straight days. Some would say this is because in the past, zucchini (and all squash) have rated very low on my “likeable foods” scale. I would like those people to know that thanks to the delicata and other gateway winter squashes, I’m getting over my low opinion of this vegetable. For whatever reason, I just had trouble seeing this plant. I walked around the plant and looked at it from all sides.

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When that didn’t work, I looked to the beans and took a break to hang out with my farm-friendly Domino Cat.
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I returned to the garden on different mornings, in different moods, and I tried. I looked at dark green zucchini varieties and pale green zucchini varieties and baby zucchinis and full-grown zucchinis and bees in blossoms.

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Domino’s expression says it all. Clearly, I was making this harder than it needed to be.

By the third day, this was seriously turning into a case of, “Kid, shoot your vegetables.” It was 7 a.m. and no one was in the office. The sun was getting higher. When I went to my car to get screens and a giant umbrella, I found a brown paper bag. I decided to play.

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After a couple of shots of “too plain, too crowded, needs something more,” I finally got the shot that was just right. Feeling victorious, I zoomed back here to the office, excited to show Gavin and Ethne my work. The zucchini didn’t beat me. And I have to confess, it tasted pretty good in a curry.

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January 3rd, 2011

Notes from my commute

It’s a new year and I’m back in the office after a long winter’s nap. It is COLD today, which is why I saw the seasonal curling of my rhododendron leaves. Normally I would panic and think the plant was dying, but I’ve learned a thing or too from my Organic Gardening stock searches.

Chilling with my Rhododendron

Rhododendron leaves curl up into tight little cigars to reduce the amount of exposed leaf surface—it protects the leaves from drying winds. The editors told me this is called “transpiration”. I took a couple of pictures of the curled leaves, then I too curled up tight and headed to work.

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