PICTURES: Plants in Miyam’s Garden

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews / 06 Sept) – I didn’t expect our local camera club (The Umbrella: Joint Photographic Society of Iligan City) to continue with the monthly quarantine photo contests since the start of the lockdowns.

But last week we just closed our fourth. The subject: “leaves.”

Not plants in general, not flowers, but only leaves. In fact, we wanted to focus only on leaves – no flowers in the picture, just leaves.  We also did not allow the usual tricks in plant photography – morning dew (usually intentionally placed there with spray or syringes) or insects on the leaves.

So for a month, almost every day, I took close to 5,000 shots of leaves – from the simplest (think weed) to the most exotic (monstera, anyone?), from the small ones to really big ones (giant pothos you like?).

I’m lucky I have a super plantita for a wife, who’s been collecting plants since we moved back to Iligan in 1997. All those years, I was just the willing driver who waits for hours in the parking lot as Miyam carefully chooses her plants, and the errand boy who carries the garden soil and the clay pots.

I’d take pictures of the plants every now and then, but not as intensely as I have done in the past month for the photo contest.

It took a long while to shoot my entries because I really love the way the leaves’ appearance changes during different times of the day, as the sunlight filters through the canopy of leaves of the trees. A few times I tried artificial light, setting up light stands and speedlights and umbrellas. But as always, my favorite pictures are those shot with natural light.

To make things a little difficult for us photo hobbyists, we required shooting in manual exposure mode, and no Photoshop or any image editing software allowed.

I shot mainly with the oldish Sony a6000, coupled with the 35mm/f1.2 full-manual 7Artisans vintage prime, and a few times the Canon 50/f1.8 and 70-200/f4L with adaptor.

Sadly, I did not win. But that’s okay, coz I’ve long told myself that I join photo contests not to win, but to improve my skill, and be humbled by the competition. All my three entries made it to the Top 10 though.

Here are my favorite shots. Plantitos and plantitas, enjoy! (Bobby Timonera / MindaNews)

I consider this my best shot because this is just a weed that crawled out of another plant’s pot. I first noticed the glow of sunlight on the plants with reddish leaves, and thought of them as background material. When I tried how their bokeh (the smooth out-of-focus foreground or background) would look like, it was wonderful! So I looked for plants with the smallest leaves for my main subject. This was what I found. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
The monstera deliciosa, with its large leaves (more than 30 inches!) and unique pattern, is everyone’s favorite these days. Luckily, we have quite a lot of these growing wild in our yard. It’s my most photographed plant, but difficult to shoot because I couldn’t isolate them for a cleaner background. My wife would kill me if I’d uproot them. So there, a closeup of the giant leaf. I wanted it to look washed out like a watercolor painting. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
This is a closeup of the dwarf snake plant showing its swirling curves with just a spot of sunlight. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
The pothos, like the monstera, is also a popular plant. It has a run of the place and I found them creeping across the ground and crawling up the trees and walls. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
This Jatropha I plucked out by the roadside years ago in a deserted portion of a new highway, upon order by you-know-who. I like the fine hair along the rim of the leaf, especially when backlit. So I shot this at noon. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
These are Kamuning leaves photographed with the bright sky in the background, again like a watercolor painting. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
We’ve now crossed EDSA. This is Kamias. I oh so like the overlapping repetitive pattern with different shades and hues. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
This is just the shoot of a kalabasa in our vegetable garden at the back of our house. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
This is called the kris plant. I wonder why. Hahaha! One leaf has reached its golden age. I love the shimmering bokeh of the 35/f1.2 lens. I used a small flash on a shoot-through umbrella on this one so the leaves wont’ blend with the background. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
I love the glow of these begonia leaves. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA


I said I love walking in our garden and be surprised by how sunlight seems to spotlight areas of the leaves while keeping other areas in the shade, like on this dumb cane plant. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
I like the simplicity of the blue ternate leaves and the gracefulness of the tendrils. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
The tips of the cyperus umbrella plant glow when lit by the late morning sun. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA
The interesting venation of the arrowhead plant is enhanced when backlit amidst a buttery smooth bokeh. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA