Afternoon Spectacle by SarahMarino

We recently spent a week in San Francisco. I knew that the SF Botanical Garden had at least one of these aloe plants and it was the one thing I really wanted to photograph during our trip. Unfortunately, I could not find their specimen, even though I took an iPhone photo of a plant right above it, not realizing the object of my quest was a foot below my camera until Ron saw it a few days later.

Determined to find and photograph this kind of plant while in the Bay Area, we ended up visiting another botanical garden in the area since they too had these aloe plants according to a slightly ridiculous amount of internet research (all for a plant!). Their specimens were beautiful (much better than their SF brethren) but were located up on a berm about waist high right along the busy entry path.

Considering that I was not going home without a photo of this plant, I contorted my tripod and camera into a ridiculous position way above my head, all while using a tattered map for shade. I was ill prepared, as I figured the plant would be much smaller and in a much more convenient position. I didn’t have the right lens, a tall enough tripod, or a proper shading mechanism. Many people stared and some whispered, all thinking I looked utterly foolish as I photographed this plant for about an hour, also while wearing dark heavy jeans and a sweatshirt on a 90 degree day (more fabulous planning – it was quite cold when I left the hotel). As I have noted before, one key to success in photographing plants is a willingness to look like a fool in public. Not my finest photography moment…

I have a few versions of this photo, one with the rosette at the center of the frame and this one, with it slightly offset. A tiny shift in perspective has a big effect on the resulting photograph and I think I like this version better because more of the spiral is evident. Still, the slightly off-center rosette keeps on bothering me a bit. If you have any thoughts about that aspect of this photograph, please feel free to share your opinion in the comments.

via 500px