Depths of Perception

– Posted in: Garden Photography, Miscellaneous

My perceptions are changing every time I walk into my garden these days.  My detached retina is almost a toy to be played with, a marvel, a new way of seeing.

tropical garden tapestry, meyes detached retina

When I walked into my garden to document the first rain, I allowed these new experiences to flood over me.  I posted here 2 years ago about my annual walk into the wilds with the a first winter rains but this year I wobble too comically to wander far from home.  Nor did I need to, for every half step is a new delight.  The joy of California’s first rain and the spontaneity of breaking all my camera rules was making me giddy.

If you have been following my posts here you know the first photos I began to make, when I realized that I could, were about the blurriness of my vision.  Now, I am  finding that my incredibly altered depth perception is allowing me to combine garden elements as I have never seen them.  I started taking those first photos when I ran into a Camellia flower that I could not see and used the camera to try and capture some sense of that blur.

Now I am allowing myself to brush into everything in the garden; not with intent of photographing the blurs, but oh-so-keenly aware of the flattened perspective of only one eye.  Our two eyes working together do not allow us to see in only two dimensions, we pass by potential photos because we see them in three dimensions.  The camera captures it this way to be sure, once we stop and compose, but only after the photographer has found a 3D scene that s/he can compress into 2D.

Brushing by the Miscanthus foliage detached retina, meyes

Brushing By the Miscanthus Foliage

I am a walking camera now, seeing new photos I would have never considered.  I have spent a career honing my eyes to find scenes that will make a good two dimensional photographs, now I need to slow down.  My blurry eye demands it, my good eye, alert like a cat, won’t let me miss a thing.

In the opening photo here (top of page), my subject is the raindrops on the leaves of the Miscanthus junceus.   Too bad that blog formats do not allow you to see the glistening drops very well but a rainshower had just run its course and no wind had shaken off the drops.  As I was looking for photos I kept brushing into everything because I simply was not accustomed to using only one eye, but every time this happened I began to realize I was being given an opportunity to create and then compress layers of perception.  I let the Cordyline be “too close” to the camera in a normal three dimensional perspective for that wide of a view.

I am learning a new way to see and breaking the rules of photography that are predicated on finding a three dimensional scene that will make an effective two dimensional image.  I am also breaking some rules about not pointing my camera at the sky.  I guess it is is not exactly a rule, but I would have never considered, or even seen this shot with two good eyes.

leaves of Cotinus 'Grace' against clearing blue sky

Leaves of Cotinus 'Grace' Against a Clearing Blue Sky

I am also learning how to use this Canon G11 camera which has a wide angle macro.  I can photograph the raindrops on the backside of leaves very close to my blurry eye, but also get tremendous depth of field due to its optics.  Two eyes seeing two different things – but one photo.  What fun.

Even looking out for the classic macro shot takes on a new perspective.  My two eyes together would not allow me to see this composition.

rain water drops on leaves of Cotinus 'Grace'

First Rain Drops on Leaves of Cotinus 'Grace'

But one blurry eye and one good one are redefining what I see.  My eyesight continues to change, and I continue to take all sorts of new pictures.  I will be talking more about the individual photos on my own blog,  Mental Seeds.  Now up and running.

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Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt

Saxon Holt is the owner of, 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
Saxon Holt

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