Through The Lens Part 3

I heard from Bob Stefko a little while ago-he checked out Dirt Simple for the first time. He liked the snapshots I took of him working-I like that. He did admit that the cold made this shoot a real challenge. Funny how this made me feel better.  After a 12 hour day on Saturday, he and I were back to work at 6:30 Sunday morning.  By 8:30 am we had a little sun.  This meant he had to work fast.  Too much glaringly bright light can wash the color and detail right out of a photograph. This means I take pictures of the landscape on overcast days.  For him, it just means more work.

These winter pots feature whitewashed eucalyptus and natural sticks bleached to a plae cream color.  The colors are great with the tawny shingle siding, and the dark blue grey door.  The wood boxes are handsome.  The architect found them-I do not know the maker.  But I do know I like them.  The textures and colors of all of the building materials are so striking. 

The winter pots feature a subtle third element-some curly willow.  These curvy twigs are a great foil to the solid mass of eucalyptus, and the uniformly cut cream sticks.  They make for another layer of interest that is not so apparent until you are closer to the door.

Three handmade English stoneware pots sit on a short wall that separates the driveway from the bluestone walk to the side door.  My pictures from this side, the west side, reveals what happens when I shoot into the morning sun.  The color goes dull, and the shadows really dark.

From the east side, with the sun behind me, the yellow twig dogwood, dark brown bahia spears and lavender eucalyptus look sparkly-richly colored.  The mix of boxwood, and yellow variegated boxwood looks as green as green can be, though these stems have been cut for at least 4 months.   

The red twig dogwood, and Michigan holly stems at this front door are just as richly colored.  Our key to insuring that the Michigan holly holds its berries throught the winter-Vaporguard.  This spray is considerably better than Wiltpruf at limiting transpiration.  With the moisture sealed in the berries, they stay plump, and hold on.  Bob had a challenge photographing these pots.  Tucked between a wall, and the step railing, the range of views was narrow.  I will be interested to see how he interpreted this space visually.   This house has very beautiful stone on the outside-the red makes much of this.

What?  You see snow in mid air here, yes.  How so?  The winter container had thawed some, putting a puddle on the terrace.  You can see that dark spot without any problem.  Bob wanted the entire terrace surface either all wet, or all dry.  We had few options for drying, but we had snow.  We shovelled snow onto the terrace, and swept it around until the entire surface was uniformly wet. 

This mid century modern house designed by Harold Turner, a master builder for Frank Lloyd Wright, is  a gem of a house.  My client-better than any gem.  He insists on utterly simple and sculptural, whether inside or out.  I did bring this sculpture of a concrete hound, thinking it might add a certain something to the photograph.  The photograph would not have much detail of the architecture-nor any detail of this client, and his passions.  This is my favorite snapshot of the shoot.  Man/photographer, man/owner, container, and dog. 

The tiles in this small entry terrace looked great, soaking wet.  The hound seemed like he belonged there.  The pot is a contemporary Italian terra cotta pot from Francesca del Re.  The clay body is loaded with minerals such, and fired at such high temperatures  that these pots are fine outdoors over our winters.  The iron stand is plain-the big idea here is to feature the sculptural aspect of the pot.  A substantial centerpiece of yellow twig dogwood is faced down with a thick and wide noble fir base.  This arrangement features the container.  That hound-he does add a certain something to this scene, does he not?

As we were packing up, my client appeared. He tells me, if this stray dog does not have a home, I will speak for him.  I was delighted to oblige. We left the hound on the terrace, just as Bob photographed it.  Irving offered a tour of the house to our photographer Bob-what a treat.  He has a particular interest in mid century modern architecture.  He got the cook’s tour.  This part of the shoot was not choreographed, or anticipated.  Every client that participated in this shoot was enthusiastic, and accomodating.  Irving-he lives with the idea that he should speak up and out.  No one says welcome better than he does.   I like that idea of his. I like that a great sculpture of a hound got a great home. 

Sunday at 1pm the shoot was done.  What an experience!  Many thanks Bob-it was my pleasure to meet, and work with you.


  1. This sequence was very interesting to me, Deborah. We once had a professional photographer shoot the interior of a house we had renovated. He moved through the rooms like a ballet dancer with choreographed movements, quickly setting up lights, diffuser, tripod. First a preliminary Polaroid of the scene, then a satisfied click, without having made any adjustments, and off to the next room. He knew exactly what he was doing and what he wanted to achieve. I know what I want to achieve when photographing my garden but don’t always know what I’m doing.

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