“In the Moss Garden” by Colleen Parker

This image was the last I made on an afternoon spent wandering about our local arboretum. It had rained heavily the previous couple of days, partially flooding a favorite area of mine, the moss garden. This is the Pacific Northwest, where moss is practically a religion! The sun was very low, casting diffused light through the conifers, painting the puddles with greens and yellows. I spotted a skunk cabbage poking through the water, and set up to make an image. As I composed for the main subject, my eye was drawn to the meniscus levels about the tiny stems of the moss surrounding the large plant. I completely forgot about the main subject and lost myself in the details of this fantastic little scene: so enchanting through the viewfinder, while entirely lost to the naked eye of the casual passerby. In fact, several people did stop to ask what I was “taking a picture of”; I was apparently ignoring some perfectly beautiful flowering rhododendrons in favor of an ordinary puddle!

The area with the skunk cabbage was rather far off the path, necessitating the use of a long lens in order to avoid getting wet feet or trampling the delicate moss plants. The light was very low, and depth of field was razor thin at that distance. The image I extracted is quite heavily cropped. Even allowing for the technical difficulties, I was entranced by this fleeting little scene and delighted to have chanced upon it! How many gems we must pass by every day without even noticing!

Many of the images I took that afternoon were technically better and easily appealing to the general viewer. But I took most satisfaction in the creative conviction I knew when I “saw” this image; it felt like a true leap forward in my personal exploration and development! I hope others will see their own tiny worlds in this image, whether it be a flock of flamingoes, an orchestra tuning up, or little cartoon characters!

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

Unusual subject matter and fortuitous natural lighting.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I would love have been closer, and to have used a macro lens. I believe there was so much more enchanting detail in this scene than I was able to capture in the circumstance. However, this little ecosystem had likely changed by the following day!

Colleen Parker shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Colleen Parker, Bainbridge Island, WA, USA


Equipment and settings

Sony A1, 100-400mm GM lens at 400mm
f/14, ISO 100, 0.8 sec.
Minimal Lightroom editing.

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Comments (1):

  1. Alexander Kurlovich

    June 21, 2022 at 14:05

    People’s reaction is always similar ) When I’m taking pictures of small mushrooms, it can be “what are you doind?” And once hopce policemen came to me, thinking that I am looking for drugs )) They were very surprised.


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