Sketch the trees and the daffodils

We knew the previous owner of our house was an accomplished gardener, and all summer and fall we enjoyed the fruits of his labor – redbuds and crabapple trees, hostas and yucca flowers. But we’d chosen the house in May, and so we had no idea in our first April that the grove of walnut trees was about to explode into a field of daffodils.


Every year, the daffodils return – even as the trees along the driveway have started to crowd each other, even through the many years when the magnolias only have browned and wilted frostbitten flowers, even when the squirrels eat our crocus bulbs and the deer decimate the hostas. Every year, at least for a moment, they surprise and encourage me.

Today was that day.


It’s also a day when I can celebrate the fact that I’m making a little progress as an iPhone photographer, and more as a photo editor. The preset Flickr filters completely let me down on this photoset, and I had no hesitation about fiddling with the sliders myself. The first photo, for example, is unretouched, but on the second one, I added just a bit of saturation to the colors. My goal was to get the yellow centers of the daffodils to pop a little; notice how it also makes the grass translucent, and even makes the downed wood in the back show up better.

(I’m not lazy, I’m grasscycling.)

I also used editing to save a couple shots. This isn’t a bad picture – I like the way the flowers stretch to the background, but the one which fell over messes up the line, and the garage of the neighbors’ damned McMansion is incongruous in the background.


My wife pointed out that it’s really a photo of the two closest daffodils… so I cropped it down until that’s what it was. (I really like the way the Apiary/Flickr photo editor is designed to remind you of the rule of thirds.) A little tweak of the contrast setting and voila:

Two Daffodils

On the next one, I actually quite like the way I got close-up on the flowers, with the vertical lines of the not-quite-awake trees against the sky. But there’s that damned garage again.


I had hoped the Focus tool would make the garage go away; it didn’t, and it became a photo about how I found the Focus tool. So back to the crop tool I went. I had to lose a little bit of the trees, because the vertical impact was too strong in the narrower photo, but on the whole I’m pleased.

Daffodils with Trees

I suppose the next lesson is to see these photobombs while shooting instead of fixing them in post, but it’s nice to have a growing sense of what’s fixable.

Happy Spring to you and yours!

4 thoughts on “Sketch the trees and the daffodils”

  1. Some good exercises in editing photos. I like the way you explain your thought process.

    Daffodils – and daisies are my favorite! I planted some and tulips. The chipmunks and deer ate the tulip bulbs – but the daffodils are starting to come up. 100 bulbs sounded like so many – but they are only a speck – more will be needed. Next fall’s project.

    Thanks for sharing – if only they would last a little longer!

    1. Thanks, Kathy!

      We heard once that sprinkling cayenne pepper over your crocus bulbs would keep the squirrels away. I think our squirrels liked the spicy ones better.

  2. That’s a pretty glorious carpet of daffodils. They are always the first to open up and announce spring; I missed mine, and my tulips have already pretty much finished their cycle. Next are irises.

    Not sure what it is but deer (and the weird related we have critters we have, javelina) do not like the daffodils nor the irises. Tulips need to be inside my fences.

    Good stuff on experimenting with the photos. Exposures are tricky since they are so bright. You can simulate the shallow depth of field with a nifty iOS app called “Big Lens”.

    Keep on snapping.

    1. Thanks, Alan. We are all warmed by fires we did not build, and we enjoy flowers planted before we came here.

      I took these pictures before I went to the grocery store, being struck by the “magic hour” quality of the light around 4 PM and afraid I’d miss it. I don’t think my compositions and the iPhone 4’s camera quite captured it, though – as you say, the shots are a bit too bright. Thanks for the tip; I’ve been curious about other iPhone photo apps.

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