Glittering Jewels

Viewed from a distance the winter-flowering evergreen shrub Garrya elliptica can look fairly unremarkable (to me at least). Its long, slender catkins could be easily mistaken for bits of old string draped over the branches. From the photographer’s viewpoint it appears too busy and confusing, with no obvious focal point. Move in a closer, however, and the catkins begin to look more interesting. Now add the final ingredient…sunlight…and the opportunity for a spot of magic emerges!

Catkins of Garrya eliptica

I photographed this splendid Garrya at Ness Botanic Gardens and noticed the way the winter sunlight, positioned behind the shrub, picked out the catkins. The true beauty only revealed itself, however, as I moved in extra close. I concentrated on small segments of the dangling tassels and moved around my subject looking for the most effective combination of natural light and background…

Voila! I’ve turned some bits of old string into priceless jewels. If only!


For this photograph I used my favourite micro-Nikkor 105mm on a Nikon D300s. The key to the shot is the backlighting ie shooting against the light to add sparkle, separation and interest. The colour has been tweaked by processing the image through the app Camerabag2.

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