Cylindropuntia bigelovii, ‘teddy bear’ cholla

There’s an enormous patch of cholla cactus on the southern slope of the road leading towards highway 10 on the way out of Joshua Tree, I always like to stop here and take a few photos. On this particular visit I couldn’t stop myself from talking to another photographer about his gear – he was lugging along a medium format Mamiya with a fancy digital back, apparently this was his fancy xmas gift to himself! Lucky guy!  These cactus’s are nasty things if you get the spines in your flesh, but they’re beautiful, and these were in flower. I spent a few minutes playing with another one of my presents – a set of Zeikos macro filters from David. These are a really affordable addition to your camera kit and as you can see, the quality is pretty good. I shot these with the Canon 50mm 1.4 and the 10x filter.

Macro samples below the jump..

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Warmer weather is finally upon us! Cue the desire for outdoor photo shoots and beach excursions.

Our backyard garden is slowly waking up, and some of my orchids are beginning to flower. Growing orchids isn’t all that different from photography in combining detail-oriented O.C.D. tendencies with a more artistic (ie… scattered and intuitive) temperament. I got into the plant hobby with succulents and still have a relatively large collection out on the back steps where conditions are closer to ideal – our backyard doesn’t get a ton of sunlight.

Here are some product and garden shots I produced a while back for a terrific little shop called ‘Succulence‘ out in Bernal Heights. They’re tucked into the rear of Four Star Video on Cortland. They sell individual plants, succulent arrangements, terrariums, pottery, and crafts by local artists.

There’s a bit of a fad for succulents and tillandsia at the moment, a movement I’m completely in favor of. Years ago if you told me I’d have a house full of healthy and happy growing plants, I would have laughed in disbelief. It’s surprisingly easy to get yourself into the habit of caring for a plant, and very rewarding!

Here are some of my favorite blogs and local sources for green things.

Hortica – a wonderful garden center and nursery on Castro Street. I’ve picked up far too many tillandsia from this store.

Flora Grubb – they’ve been featured in a number of magazines and blogs. Really fantastic place, worth a visit. Check out their ‘cutting garden’ blog for examples of incredible wedding bouquet and centerpiece work.

Sloat Garden Center – Recently began carrying an expanded range of orchids! Great place for backyard gardeners, wide range of plants which grow well in the bay area. They currently have dahlia bulbs in stock, I picked up a bunch for the garden over the weekend.

Shelldance Orchid Gardens – Nice selection of orchids, and home to a staggering collection of bromeliads and succulents. They aren’t for sale, but if you’re a plant geek, you need to make a visit.

San Francisco Botanical Garden – Always worth the time to wander through.

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers –  Amazing collection of botanicals, friendly volunteers and employees, and rotating special galleries including their very popular carnivorous plant exhibit.

Far Out Flora – I’ve never met the writers of this blog, but I feel it may be inevitable! They do day trips to nurseries, botanical gardens, and have an enviable back yard succulent garden.

Shelldance Gardens, Pacifica


Shelldance Orchid Gardens consists of several greenhouses full of the most beautiful plants you may ever see outside of Hawaii. Their collection of tillandsia and bromeliads are second to none, and I can easily spend hours here just wandering around and soaking in the energy of being around so many growing, oxygen-exuding plants. Treat yourself to a visit, they are open to the public on the weekends.