‘Picture this’ prelim: The ‘genius loci’ of Ellis Hollow

My favorite part of the gardening blogosphere is Gardening Gone Wild’s Picture This photo contest. I’ve had the honor of winning twice and the privilege of judging once.

What I like most about the contest is that it often pushes me — a rank amateur photographer — to venture beyond my boundaries and comfort level. It makes me a better (though still not great) garden photographer.

So I’m a little bit frustrated with this month’s ‘assignment’: One shot that captures the ‘Genius loci – the special atmosphere of a place’.

That’s a tough assignment for a garden in February in snowy upstate New York. Sure, we have a genius loci in winter. But it’s not really focused on the garden. And good luck to folks in Chicago and across much of the U.S. going out to capture that special shot this month.

But I’m undeterred. This gives me a good excuse to go back through old images to see if any capture that. I do a lot more close-up and medium range shooting. But I think I’ve got some longer shots that might capture a bit of the genius loci. Maybe I’ve succeeded? Maybe not.

And here’s where you come in. I have some favorite genius loci shots, what with living here and all. But from an outside perspective, which of the following images to you think best captures the ‘genius loci’ of Ellis Hollow?

From one of my first posts. I suspect the ridge to the west will be a familiar theme.
early landscape

From 2005? My banner is (and always has been) a slice of this image.

Same image with tilt-shift treatment.
tilt shift trials

The white pine, the lone crab apple in the marsh and the ridge help define this place.
lonely apple

From June 2007. Decent overview with nice light. But the Norway maple is no longer with us. Might be a little more clinical than spiritual.
june panorama

One of my favorite borrowed scenery shots.
walk view

Front with tilt-shift treatment.
tilt shift trials

Water garden, Sept. 2007.
water garden, fall morning

Grasses, Sept. 2007
grasses sunday morning

Dare I submit a video of a day …

The day in 50 seconds from Craig Cramer on Vimeo.

Or a season?

Veggie bed close up from Craig Cramer on Vimeo.

Fall grasses and bottles maybe?
silhouetted grasses

Will a stitched image tell the tale?
new view two
Larger view

Sunbeams. A little trite?

This might be the closest thing I have to showing the gradation from human to wild.
old pix

Looking these over, I’m starting to envision the shots I wish I’d taken. So maybe this assignment will be a good motivator.

Which one do you think I should enter?

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12 thoughts on “‘Picture this’ prelim: The ‘genius loci’ of Ellis Hollow”

  1. I never win contests, so maybe my comment should instead be which one *not* to enter if you intend to win. lol!

    I really love them all, but the one with the sunbeams and blue bottles really intrigue me. Nice shot! :)

  2. I do like the chilly grasses 2007 and the last one a lot, but seem to remember some wide shots of misty mornings on the blog maybe last spring? I’ve always admired that you get out early in all seasons to capture that light, which, with the ridge and wetland surrounding your beautiful plantings, really shows off Ellis Hollow’s special atmosphere.

  3. The last one. You captured it with your comment “the gradation from human to wild”. It tells the story of your place in one shot: how it’s a safe created harbor where human stuff happens (picnicking, potting, sitting,) but it is only just barely contained inside a little fortress of tall flowering ramparts… then the outside untamed world takes over. I am sensing a first prize again.

  4. I really like the sunbeams with the blue bottles and also the last one. Like Melody said, I too have never won a contest so I hope I’m not steering you wrong. This really is a tough theme this month.

  5. Bingo Laurie. I believe the language Julie Moir Messervy would use for the patio area is the archetype ‘harbor’.

  6. I am not a photographer so I will not be entering. But of your shots, my favorite, the one that elicited an emotional response from me was the lone crab apple. Perhaps it is just because I am a nature girl.

    Good luck, I will be curious to see what you enter.

  7. I agree with Laurie.
    This will be the first time I enter. I gather it’s OK to enter an old image, not one taken “right now.”

  8. Accidentally, thankfully, found your blog while looking for Ellis Hollow info.
    Love the Day in 50 Seconds, imagining that perhaps my Genung family looked at that same ridge some 200 years ago.
    Really any picture with a dalmatian is a winner to me.
    thanks/ justina

  9. I’m having the same trouble, Craig, and probably won’t enter. I’ve found that I do much better in the contest if motivated to take a new photo to fit the theme, not to try to cram an old photo into the theme. I too remember some wide shots of misty mornings in your garden that I loved. But of the options you posted, I like the sun through the tree best, trite or not.

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