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Gardening & More: Photography helps us enjoy our gardens in the winter

WINTER WONDERLAND — A bird adds interest to this wintertime photo, which was taken at Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo. Look for shadows, which add depth to pictures, when taking photos in the snow. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko.
SPRINGVILLE — You can find beauty in your garden, even in the winter.

My friend Natividad Lopez of Yuma, Ariz. is a skilled photographer who knows that many Western New Yorkers don’t want this area to be associated with cold and snow. But he said that he thinks that is the wrong attitude. “I say, embrace it!” he said. “This part of the world is astonishingly beautiful.”

Lopez is an active duty sailor stationed at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. He has traveled throughout the world, so when he says Western New York is beautiful, we should consider it high praise.

Photography gives you an opportunity to capture the beauty of your winter garden and it gives you something to do outside, when you cannot dig, plant or weed. Below are tips for taking great, wintertime photos, as well as indoor floral photography.

The Night Lights event will be held at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, located at 2655 South Park Ave. in Buffalo. The exhibits are lit with theatrical lighting, setting the scene for creative photographs.

The event will be held on Jan. 30 and 31 and Feb. 1, 2, 6 – 9 and 13 – 16. Exhibit times are 6 – 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 6 – 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Tripods are not allowed during this event, because they could cause people in the crowd to trip, so the Botanical Gardens has scheduled a special night for photographers. Bring your tripod to the gardens from 6 – 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

Tickets for adults, Botanical Garden members, seniors and kids ages 3 – 12 are currently on sale. Children younger than 3 may attend for free.

If you want to take photos of flowers in the daytime, visit the Botanical Gardens, during the Amaryllis & Cymbidium Show, which starts on Saturday, Jan. 19 and continues through Thursday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. The show is included with the price of admission.

Here are some tips for taking photos of your garden in wintertime:

– Know your camera. If you have an automatic digital camera, figure out what features it offers. You may have a snow or back lighting setting, which can come in handy outside, during the winter. If your digital camera has manual options, learn how to use them.

– Get personal. Don’t be afraid to get close up, to capture the most interesting part of your garden.

Lopez and I were taking photos in the snow, one day. We both took photos of a tree with reddish leaves that were speckled with ice.

I took photos of entire branches, but my photos came out, muddled and boring. Lopez focused in on just a few leaves and produced a very appealing photo.

– Look for spots of color. A red leaf or some berries can add contrast to a landscape that is overwhelmingly white or brown. Birds are also colorful.

– Look up. The most vibrant winter color is often the blue sky. Make use of the rich hue by capturing tree branches’ reaching upward. Clouds and the sun can add wonderful effects.

– Take advantage of the light at sunrise or sunset. You might get a pinkish cast to your image and, if it is clear outside, you can capture some amazing skies.

– Add interest with shadows. During the summer, we see a lot of greenery, but photos do not turn out boring, because there are countless shades of color, in that green. Everything in a snowy landscape is the same shade of white. Add interest to your photos, by capturing shadows.

– When there is a lack of vibrant color, look for graceful lines. I took a photo of a landscape, during heavily-falling snow, which made the landscape appear nearly monochromatic. What keeps the landscape shot interesting is the undulating lines of the rows of trees and shrubs.

– Choose inanimate objects as subjects. A bench looks beautiful, when it is coated with snow.

There are probably many inanimate objects in your garden that look lovely in the snow, including statues, boulders, stumps, bird baths, trellises, arbors and sheds. If you have nothing now, perhaps you should add a few items to your garden.

– Choose animals as subjects. Do you have seeded plants that attract birds to your garden, during the winter? Try to capture some of those garden visitors in photos. If you have pets, photograph them in the snow.

If you would like to share your photos with our readers, email them, as attachments, to I will post them on the Your Photos page of the website.

Connie Oswald Stofko is the publisher of, the online gardening magazine for Western New York.

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