A Chanticleer Workshop

Bee on Dahlia

I spent last weekend at a garden photography workshop at Chanticleer Garden outside of Philadelphia.  The weather was intermittently mixed clouds and sunshine but we got enough good lighting for some interesting photo opportunities on Saturday.  The workshop was conducted by Alan Detrick and Roger Foley with a small group of enthusiast photographers who were really pleased to get early morning access to the gardens (with good lighting and before the public showed up).  Roger and Alan gave regular and helpful advice as we tried to isolate our own respective visions of what was worth photographing in these early fall scenes.  Both of them have extensive garden photography experience and have previously been judges for the Gardening Gone Wild photo contests.

Chanticleer is truly a pleasure garden in every sense for a gardener.  They have seven horticulturalists who specialize in different sections of the garden and the attention to detail really shows throughout the garden.  A weekend of photography might sound like a lot, but it barely scratches the surface of what is possible at Chanticleer.  By the time you set up your shots the light is already moving on, not to mention the bees and butterflies.

One of the benefits of a small workshop like this one is that you get to share and comment on the other visions that people bring to their photography.  I’ve seen time and again that different people will always bring different photos away from the same scene.  And it only takes a few times of people pointing out the annoying branch you left in the composition before you start to think about it before you click the shutter.

Anyway, despite the weather being less than ideal, I had a great time and I’d like to do it again.  If the thought appeals to you they are likely to run this workshop again next year.

Here are some selected photos from the weekend.

Bee on Dahlia - Version 2

Grasshopper on Celosia

One of the points that Alan emphasized was the way the early morning light can delicately light the edges of a subject like the grasshopper in this image.  And if it’s cold enough, they don’t run from the camera.

Celosia sans grasshopper

Backlit Celosia

Bee on Celosia

Toad Lilies ( Tricyrtis hirta 'Miyazaki')

The Toad lilies are almost shrub-like and completely line the path through the Minder Woods.  They are flagrantly in flower at this season, shaming all those spring blooming flowers that have long gone by now.


I’m generally not a big fan of the Cochicum which flop all over the hillsides at Chanticleer, but they do have their moments.  Mostly I prefer the less gaudy fall crocus which are just now showing up in our lawn.

Perennial Gotta Pea (Amicia zigomeris) detail

Sulpher Butterfly with Proboscis unfurled

Clitoria ternatea

This is tropical vine that was up on the terrace in the house garden.  I think it has to be started from seed each year.

Poppy Mallow (Callirhoe involucrata)

I really liked the detail on the Callirhoe — it would be well worth adding to our hillside garden.

It’s also time for another Gardening Gone Wild Photo contest.  Saxon Holt has selected a theme of filling the frame.  I’m going to take this opportunity to enter a photo that I think truly fills the frame, though perhaps not in the way that Saxon Holt originally conceived.

Aibika (Abelmoschus manihot) detail

This close-up image of the Aibika, a relative of okra, will be my entry for the October Picture This Contest.

8 comments on “A Chanticleer Workshop

  1. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden

    What a fabulous opportunity to learn more about garden photography. The weekend sure looks like it paid off too- love the grasshopper shot, the one of the pale Sulpher butterfly and backlit celosia especially.

  2. Lane Lewis

    Hello John,
    I throughly enjoyed your images. Thanks for taking the time to share them. I am having a show this month and have been preoccupied with hanging it etc. and now that I have had the opening, I will edit some of my photos from the wonderful weekend and if any are worthy, send them along. Lane Lewis

  3. Les

    What a great opportunity, and judging by your photographs, you paid attention in class. When I was there this summer it was white hot and not a good day to shoot, but the gardens were enjoyable just the same. I like your selection for the contest, it’s something that reseeds itself in my garden. However, my favorites are all of your celosia shots.

  4. Theresa Forte

    Beautiful work! Despite the drizzly weather, it was a terrific workshop – my third time to attend. I learn something new each time, and as you so aptly said, the comments of the other participants really does help you look for imperfections, or a better way to frame a shot before you actually press the shutter. I love images that show us the beautiful side of the mundane – many of your images fit that bill. Keep up the good work!

  5. Melody

    I love your entry! Very pretty!

  6. Town Mouse

    Those photos are all amazing. I especially like the backlit Celosia, though I admit that last one is a better example of “Fill the Frame”. Good luck!

  7. Saxon Holt

    Another great submission ! You really understood filling the frame with a gorgeous composition that might have been a bit stronger if the dark eye was wee bit higher. It is hard for a macro photo to tell a story. Graphic and easy to look at if done well, as you have done, but I am not sure of any story. I think there ARE stories here, the light or the pistil or the petal arrangement all are hinted at.
    Nitpicking I know. A great shot.

  8. Pingback: Winners for Picture This Contest – October 2011