Sunday, September 18, 2011

Summer 2011 in the Sunken Garden

Since 2004, I've tried to make a point of documenting, in photographs, the annual summer floral arrangements in the Sunken Garden at Garfield Park in Indianapolis. The Garden is adjacent to the conservatory on the park grounds, and the conservatory staff normally tries to present spring bulbs outdoors (in addition to the indoor annual bulb show) and on occasion, weather permitting, swap out the summer arrangement in fall with chrysanthemums.

My mission in recent years has been made difficult by enthusiastic park rangers/security staff who improperly enforce the policy that regulates use of the Sunken Garden as a backdrop for professional portraiture work. For those instances, the park wants photographers to purchase a permit, which costs somewhere in the range of $250, figuring that ... if the photographer is going to make money, why not the park? Park staff have told me repeatedly the policy is not aimed at people wanting to take pictures of the flowers. Unfortunately, the security staff has been coached to look for people with "expensive" or sophisticated equipment, and that a tripod is a good tip-off. Unfortunately, a tripod should not be a telltale sign; I've been in the Sunken Garden at night, using a tripod to steady the camera for night scenes -- no portraiture. So, when the security staff sees what they believe is nice camera gear or tripods, they instantly deduce that person is doing professional portraiture work, even if there is no portrait subject with the photographer! I'm not alone in experiencing these frustrations; I've talked to other shooters who've gone through the same thing. So I've not been nearly as enthusiastic to continue my streak of recording the arrangements. 

I tread carefully Saturday when I made my venture to photograph the Garden. There were no security staff when I got there, so I started shooting, fast and furious, hoping to get it done and then get out before it became an issue. Rushing is no way to do a memorable shoot, and I suppose my pictures probably reflect that. As I neared completion of my rush job, I noticed ... barely more than 10 feet away on the overlook ... a gentleman in a security uniform. I held my breath preparing for "the confrontation."

Thankfully, it didn't happen. Could it be -- they know better now? Someone has sat them all down and gone over exactly what entails professional portrait photography? I don't know, and I decided not to ask. Thankful I didn't have to run through the annual "I'm not doing portraiture photography; I'm taking pictures of flowers" defense mantra, I made a quick exit.

Today's post carries some images from the shoot; the final four were taken outside the Garden, during my departure in the park and, in the instance of the sedum and the juliet tomato, in my yard. The two vertical orientations of the trees are high-dynamic range (HDR) treatments, captured hand-held using my Tamron 18-270mm Di II VC PZD lens. 

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