Cheryl Johnson has developed quite a following as a wildlife photographer working under the pseudonym “Backyard Bird Nerd.” Her photos have been featured in magazines, websites, and art galleries. As the owner of an advertising agency, writing has always been a part of her life and career. Her literary work has included producing text for websites, brochures, television and radio commercials, and a variety of magazines articles. Delving into the world of children's literature has been an exciting and challenging adventure, and pairing these books with her love of photography has proven to be the perfect outlet for her passions and talents. When not prowling around in nature looking for something to “fly” by her lens, she lives in South Texas with her husband, two daughters, and dog.
Macro Photography at Victoria Educational Gardens
An adventure of the smallest kind
It’s late summer in South Texas, and the birding isn’t great. It’s hot, and the birds are molting which means not-so-nice photos. So, I’ve decided to grab my macro lens and head out to Victoria Educational Gardens to try my luck at photographing bugs, flowers, and anything else I can find.
A few years ago I purchased my first macro lens, and ever since I have really been enjoying learning how to use it. But, wow, macro photography sure is a lot different than what I’m used to shooting. I have learned so much about my camera shooting birds and other wildlife, but with macro photography, it seems to me that there’s a much stronger artistic element to it. When I’m shooting a close up of a plant or critter, I’ve discovered that I need to be much more aware about where my subject is, how the background looks, and other factors that I might not normally think about quite as much when shooting birds.
Victoria Educational Gardens is a wonderful location to practice. In addition to lots of bees flying around, there are bugs and lizards, a wonderful butterfly garden, and of course, lots and lots of beautiful flowers. I was particularly struck by the amazing and ethereal beauty of the passion flowers. I couldn’t help but find it rather ironic that I had never heard of or seen one of these beauties until my visit to this garden, particularly when you consider how much I’m out in nature. It just goes to show you that until you start looking, you’ll never know what you might discover. In addition to the flowers and the butterflies in the butterfly garden, I also enjoyed photographing some caterpillars having an afternoon meal. To me, the most amazing thing about macro photography is the detail. I love how the camera can get so close and see so many things that you can’t see with the naked eye. While chasing some grasshoppers around the plants, I noticed some green anole lizards. We have two different ones in our area, green and brown, and these green ones put on quite a show for me, especially this little fellow. I have to be honest; my first reaction was to feel sorry for the butterfly but not so sorry that I didn’t snap several dozen photos.
Victoria Educational Gardens is located on the campus of Victoria Regional Airport and is a beautifully designed and maintained project of the Victoria Master Gardeners. The garden is open daily from dawn to dusk and is available for school and adult programs. Admission is free. Photography, for me, has been a continual exercise in discovering things and places I never knew about. With my foray into bird and wildlife photography, I discovered the stunning beauty of our state parks and Gulf Coast, and now, with macro photography, I’m discovering places much closer to home. I have to admit, I’ve known about this garden for years, but until I became interested in macro photography, I had never found my way over for a visit, but now that I know about it, you can be sure I’ll be back on a regular basis.
This article is dedicated to Jim Feig who hosted many outings to Victoria Educational Gardens, sharing his love of photography as he taught his students how to capture the world with their lens. We miss you, Jim!
Share the Beauty of Nature with Your Child!
Nature is Amazing
These beautiful books by writer and photographer Cheryl Johnson, are designed to not only engage your child but to encourage their imagination, exploration, and discovery of the world around us.