I’ve lived in this home near Oakhurst, California, for 20 years. I’ve always found something to photograph over that time, be it my purple plums in bloom, the oaks or pines or manzanitas, moss-covered boulders, fog, snowstorms or the clouds, irises or poppies or lupine blooming. Or the first fresh leaves budding out on the large oak in my front yard. I watch the light and weather daily and wait for inspiration.
I designed and built a waterfall feature that provides photo options. And in its little pond, I planted lilies to photograph. I leave out my tub of colorful pebbles on my patio, waiting for the right conditions. In the winter, when extraordinary ice patterns crystalize around those rocks, I am ready.
All of the photographs seen here were taken within a few feet of my house.
There were two ways I’ve created these opportunities. First, we chose to live here, building a home on a one-acre lot covered with pines and oaks in the Sierra Nevada foothills. I find plenty of subjects in what was already here.
Second, I planted mostly native plants like redbud, the poppies and lupine to give myself other photo options. I also planted the plum trees and flowers to photograph. I even tried to grow a native dogwood tree, but it couldn’t tolerate the heat here at 2000 feet of elevation.
The point of my ramblings is that while you are stuck at home, think about what you can photograph around your home or inside. I’ve been making images of our orchids. I know some folks are ordering flowers online to photograph at home. Creating more opportunities to photograph at home is an excellent strategy during this pandemic, but also in the long run. Remember, our “seeing” needs daily practice. Beauty is all around us every day.
William Neill’s next book, Light on the Landscape, will be released soon. It is a collection of his “On Landscape” essays written over the past 23 years for Outdoor Photographer.