I've long had a dream to be a wildlife and nature photographer skipping around on Antarctic icebergs and snapping exotic species hidden deep in forests. However, when I became a mum I had to face up the fact that I not only didn't have the luxury of traveling to those places, but I often only had an hour or two at difficult times of the day to shoot like in the midday sun. I began photographing at local parks, but even then driving there cut into my tiny windows of time.
So I decided to change my front and back yards to create the type of images I wanted to shoot. I also made sure that I was designing the garden so that I'd have something to photograph in any light or weather. I planted a ton of native Australian plants including some like the Misty Pink Grevillea that I'd always wanted to capture. I also planted others like salvia, perennial basil and buddleia to bring in the local bees (native and introduced), butterflies and birds. It's still a work in progress, but the garden is now hopping with Fairy Wrens, New Holland Honeyeaters, Wattlebirds, Skinks, Blue-tongue Lizards, Blue-banded and other native bees and tons of other little beasties. Build it and they will indeed come!
Below are some of the results of my project to build my own personal little photography paradise. I'm now selling prints of these images on my website and hope to turn my lifelong passion into a full-time business. I still haven't managed to photograph all the wildlife that's moved in and all the interesting plants, but having my outdoor studio at my door means I will soon... even with my time-poor life!
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New Holland Honeyeater (Phylidonyris novaehollandiae) perching on a 'Superb' grevillea.
One of my favourite plants, the 'Misty Pink' grevilla cultivar in the blue hour of twilight.
Paper Wasp (Polistes humilis) drinking water from on a Bearded Iris (Iris germanica) leaf at midday on a hot 40 degree day.
Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) on ornamental cherry blossom (Prunus sp.) in spring.
African daisies (Osteospermum sp.) in late afternoon sunlight. These tough plants have been doing well in a dry and dirt-poor area where nothing else will grow.
Jacaranda tree (Jacaranda mimosifolia) leaves catching the sunlight in the middle of summer.
Blue-banded Bee (Amegilla cingulate) in a 'Victoria Blue' Salvia flower.
Weeping bottlebrush tree (Callistemon viminalis) catching the sunlight.
These little garden lizards (Lampropholis guichenoti) are very dull in colour, except when the sun hits them at a certain angle and then their skin goes iridescent - something I probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't spent so long following them around the back yard.
Eucalyptus leaf (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) burnt after a string of scorching hot summer days.
Ant farming aphids in the curl of a dwarf apple tree leaf (Malus domestica 'Pink Lady')
Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus moluccanus) hanging out in the Jacaranda tree (Jacaranda mimosifolia) waiting for his turn in the grevilleas.
Agave attenuata in the blue hour light. This one was actually at my neighbour's place and I've since put several in my yard and am eagerly waiting for them to mature.
First flower of Grevillea 'Flamingo' in spring. As the season progresses the colour of these flowers changes dramatically from these bright tones to washed out hues. It's pretty in every season.
Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) on Perennial Basil flowers (Ocimum gratissimum). This basil has been so popular with pollinators that I've planted five more.
Pink and yellow Gazinia bloom (Asteraceae sp.) in the sun.
Tiny lynx spider (Oxyopes quadrifasciatus) hanging onto Salvia 'Victoria Blue' flowers hoping to catch dinner.
Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) in the middle of an Iceberg Rose (Rosa 'Iceberg') blossom.
Liquidambar leaves and seed pods (Liquidambar styraciflua) catching the sunlight.
Ginkgo biloba leaves in dappled sunshine.