Picture This Photo Contest for September 2010

– Posted in: Garden Photography

Although a lot of the country may still be experiencing searing hot weather, once September rolls around, most of us gladly begin to anticipate fall and all of the abundant, ripe harvests that will come to fruition.

We’re thrilled that Charles Mann, a well-known photographer from Santa Fe, is the judge for this September’s Picture This contest. Charles, who has been a freelance and stock photographer for over 16 years, specializes in imagery of gardens, horticulture, New Mexico culture and southwestern scenic landscape. He has photographed four books : Cutting Edge Gardening In The Intermountain West, Secret Gardens of Santa Fe, Viva Guadalupe and Celebrating Guadalupe. His work has appeared in many magazines, including Horticulture, Organic Gardening, Country Living Gardener, Sunset, Fine Gardening, Phoenix Home & Garden, the Santa Fean, and Su Casa and for publishers such as Houghton Mifflin, Conran Octopus, and Storey Communications.  Charles has published essays from England, Japan, New Zealand, Italy, Majorca, Ireland, Alaska and from most major cities in the Western United States.

This is what Charles has to say about the challenge for September’s Picture This.

“I have chosen AUTUMN HARVEST as my theme.

September and October are my favorite months in the Southwest and just about anywhere else for that matter. In New Mexico, the gardens are lush with grasses and summer growth, the aspen and cottonwoods light up the mountains while towns and villages celebrate the end of summer with dances and festivals. Chile, corn and other colorful produce make harvest time a visual feast, too, with many products of the gardens and fields being used for ornaments as well as for the table.

Las Golondrinas Fall Fiesta Santa Fe, NM Miscellaneous scenes

Often the setting or context makes a rather plain subject take on a special charm. Here, a stack of pumpkins can be charismatic when juxtaposed against some romantic old adobe buildings like these at El Rancho de Los Golondrinas, an historical museum south of Santa Fe.

A red pickup truck draped with bright chile ristas makes a colorful composition in September at a fruit stand near the village of Velarde in northern New Mexico. A red pickup truck draped with bright chile ristas makes a colorful composition in September at a fruit stand near the village of Velarde in northern New Mexico.

After finding a photo, remember to look at the subject again and try composing both some overall context shots and then framing in more tightly on dramatic details. Most good subjects offer more than one or two interesting photographs.

In September, strings of red, orange and green chile peppers hang from an old pickup truck at a fruit stand near the village of Velarde in northern New Mexico.

Colorful chile ristras hang from the window of an old pickup at Elizabeth Berry's ranch near the village of Abiquiu in northern New Mexico

Remember to shoot both horizontal and vertical composition when possible. Each and every well composed photograph had a unique energy and feeling.

Don’t hesitate to go off track and shoot something you did not come to see. B.F. Skinner famously said “Serendipity is the ability to see something important when you are looking for something else.” Blurring the back drop by opening up the camera to a wide aperture, like f 4, is a way to create context or atmosphere that can contribute to the photo without fighting with the main subject for attention.

A painted skull and a red pickup truck make a colorful fall scene at a fruit stand  near the  village of Velarde in  northern New Mexico.i

Some subjects, like produce or containers, are moveable. Taking the time to create an interesting arrangement is an opportunity to practice another aspect of composition.

A lone chile pepper and some Anasazi beans create a still life of Native American food.

An arrangement of  Indian corn, beans varieties and chiles makes a  colorful and edible southwestern collage.

Learn to notice the surreal and whimsical things nearby. Sometimes odd juxtapositions or patterns present themselves and make great photo opportunities. Rene Magritte could have painted this scene of levitating chiles on a visit to New Mexico.

A red pickup truck adorned with a chile ristra and loaded with bounty from the autumn harvest create a colorful scene at a fruit stand near the small village of Velarde in northern New Mexico.

Use your wide angle lens to look at a subject from a unique angle. Wide angle photos can take in a lot of information and have the added benefit of an almost infinite depth of field even, at wide apertures.”


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 – in a comment on this post.

2. 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 deadline for entries is 11:59 PM Eastern time on Tuesday, September 21, 2010.

Entries that meet the above rules will be added to a separate gallery page (you can find it here). If you enter but your photo does not appear in the gallery within 24 hours, please review your entry to make sure you followed the rules.

Charles has offer an inviting, adventurous and timely subject for September’s Picture This.  It is the perfect contest for first timers to ‘go for it’. For those of you who have participated in Picture This before, what a fun way to jump start some new photographic skills and inspiration.

All of the prior entries from Picture This contests for the past 14 months are compiled as an informal gallery of gardening subjects.  To check out the past themes, click on GGW Picture This Photo Contest.

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Fran Sorin

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.

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Fran Sorin
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