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Originally posted March 30, 2022

My Early Morning Pass got me into the botanical garden hours before it officially opened to the public. The daylily garden, running adjacent to a narrow pathway, was at its peak. With no swarming throngs of curious onlookers to deal with, I practically had the whole place to myself. The winds were light, and the skies were clear. I was prepared for a fruitful morning of uninterrupted flower photography at the New York Botanical Garden.

Everything was going perfectly, until a groundskeeper warned me that he was about to turn on the sprinklers.

Say what now!?

Within seconds, my tranquil “studio” was transformed into a virtual water-theme park. Huge plumes of water shot high in the air, all over the place. I quickly gathered my gear and retreated to a safe distance, then glumly watched all my plans for the morning literally get washed away. The sprinklers were placed several feet apart, leaving a few dry areas along the pathway. They were the portable, oscillating type – producing neat arcs of gently rotating columns of water. As I watched the water fall on the flowers, I started to notice a distinct pattern. If the water rotated too far in one direction, the flowers looked like they were in a torrential downpour. If it went too far in the other direction it missed the flowers entirely. But, for just a few seconds during the cycle, the water appeared as lightly falling rain. With a renewed sense of excitement and urgency, I grabbed my tripod and carefully stepped into one of the dry spots – setting up just inches outside of the water’s maximum reach. I zoomed into a cluster of blooms situated in front of a shadowed hedge. This provided the perfect backdrop to offset the backlit water and flowers.

At this point, all that was left to do was to simply wait for the precise moment in the cycle when the water was just right.

I was amazed at the myriad of creative compositions available in this new and unique environment. It was like photographing flowers again…for the first time. I was actually disappointed when the sprinklers were finally turned off. All that was fresh and new was now, once again, common, and ordinary. I reluctantly shifted gears and returned to shooting the pictures I had originally intended. Quite frankly, it was somewhat of a letdown.

When unexpected things happen, it’s important to have enough flexibility to keep the creative juices flowing. Even more important, you need to be able to recognize them as potential opportunities, rather than annoying obstacles. After all, a lemon doesn’t always have to be sour.

Art and Article by F.M. Kearney

F.M. Kearney is a fine art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images.

To see more of his work, please visit Cagonline.Shop/Franklin-Kearney


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