Craft Room: Necklace for Paula

31 03 2012

Last night I showed my friend Paula how to make the crochet wire + bead necklaces that I’ve been creating since last spring. She came up with the idea of crocheting just the center part of the necklace and attaching a chain instead of chain-stitching the rest of the piece. I thought it was a great idea—it would be easier to control the length and the necklace would be less resistant to metal fatigue in the crochet-only areas (plus—less beads, less wire and less time!). I made the simple matching earrings for her. This piece contains beads made of glass, hematite, cracked glass, glass pearls and metal. Paula has lots of experience in wire-wrapping, bead stringing and other jewelry skills so I learn far more from her than she learns from me.

© Cindy Dyer (with assistance from Paula)

From the Washington Post’s Going Out Guide…

31 03 2012

Anemone in the National Garden

30 03 2012

I photographed this Anemone bloom in the National Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. Check out the virtual tour of the U.S. Botanic Garden here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Re-post: Spring starflowers

25 03 2012

Originally posted 3.31.2009

These star-shaped, pale blue flowers with grass-like foliage are Spring starflowers (Ipheion uniflorum). This perennial is grown from bulbs and blooms in mid-spring for 3-5 weeks. Originating from Argentina and Uruguay, this plant naturalizes very swiftly, spreading by self-seeding and from bulb offsets. Often used in rock gardens and woodland gardens, they grow just 4-5 inches tall, and are perennials in Zones 6 to 7 (with mulching to protect from frost) and in Zones 8 to 9 without mulching. They can be grown in full sun to part shade, require medium watering, are low maintenance, and tolerate a wide range of soil types. They are blooming at Green Spring Gardens now.

I photographed these tiny blue flowers last year in mid-April at Green Spring Gardens. See how they look en masse here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Bi-color Viola

25 03 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Blooming in my garden: Anemones

24 03 2012

All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.

—Helen Hayes

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Blooming in my garden: Daffodils (Narcissus)

24 03 2012

If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier
in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. 
—Nadine Stair

Ain’t gonna let a little rain stop me from photographing my Daffodils. (And yes, Nadine, I was out there barefoot!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Same time, last year: Hoverfly on African daisy

24 03 2012

Originally posted March 24, 2011

Hoverfly (Syrphidae), also known as Flower fly, on an African daisy (Dimorphotheca aurantiaca)

I found this image in my archives recently—photographed at Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island north of Victoria, Canada three years ago. If you’re a garden lover or love to photograph gardens, put this place at the top of your “to visit” list. It is spectacular!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Same time, last year: Tulip trio

23 03 2012

Originally posted 3.22.2011

Visit my updated botanical portfolio:

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Hearing Loss Magazine covers…who will grace the next one?

22 03 2012

Just compiled this collage of all of the covers I’ve photographed for the Hearing Loss Magazine over the past seven years. Who will be next?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

White Tulip

21 03 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


21 03 2012

White and red tulips (hybrids unknown)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Grape hyacinth (Muscari)

21 03 2012

I think this specimen is Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Triumph tulip ‘Page Polka’

21 03 2012

Triumph tulips are created by cross-breeding Single Early and Single Late Tulips, making them the largest class of tulips with the widest range of color combinations.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Rose geranium

21 03 2012

Rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) ‘Lady Plymouth’

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Caressed by the sun

19 03 2012

A mass of Spring starflower (Ipheion uniflorum), photographed in the afternoon sunlight at Green Spring Gardens. A member of the Lily family, Spring starflower is a perennial that spreads 6-12 inches and thrives in zones 5+. Blooming in late winter or early spring in full sun to part shade, the flower color ranges from pale blue to white, depending on the amount of sun and other conditions. Good for rock gardens, beds, woodland gardens, borders and naturalizing; hardy and drought resistant

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Gravetye snowflake closeup

18 03 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


18 03 2012

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis), photographed at Green Spring Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Gravetye snowflake cluster

18 03 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Gravetye snowflake

18 03 2012

Gravetye snowflake (Leucojum aestivum ‘Gravetye’) or ‘Gravetye Giant’, photographed at Green Spring Gardens this afternoon

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Siberian squill

18 03 2012

One of my favorite little spring flowers is Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’—also known as Spring Beauty scilla, Wood squill or Siberian squill (Liliaceae family). Tiny and delicate bright porcelain blue flowers grow on 4-6 inch stalks from bulbs in early spring in full sun to part shade. Tough and extremely cold hardy (Zones 2-8), this low-maintenance plant naturalizes easily by bulb offshoots and through self-seeding.

It was a spectacular spring day and there were lots of walkers, joggers and picnickers at Green Spring Gardens this afternoon, as well as plenty of spring blooms to shoot. Stay tuned for more new images!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Steve Thomas, illustrator

17 03 2012

Last month illustrator Steve Thomas e-mailed me to ask permission to use a photograph I shot of a seagull in Bodega Bay, California as an art reference (photo at right). I granted him permission with the only stipulation being that he share his final results with me. He wrote, “Thanks a million. When I saw your photo, I knew it was perfect for what I was planning, which happens to be a fake travel poster to Bodega Bay, inspired by the movie “The Birds” for a Hitchcock tribute show.”

This week he sent me his entry. Do you see Hitchcock’s famous profile in the bird? Pretty cool, huh? The gallery show is a tribute to Hitchcock and he chose to do a travel poster in the location where “The Birds” takes place. He says, “Adding Hitchcock’s profile just helped solidify the connection.” Thanks for sharing it with me, Steve!

Learn more about this very talented artist here and see more of his work here. He even has his posters and t-shirt art available on Zazzle here. I just love his illustration style (and especially love the vintage-look travel posters)!

The Garden Muse Portfolio goes to print!

17 03 2012

Dear MagCloud, I take back every awful thing I thought about you last night (including the sailor-worthy words I uttered under my breath). I still think you should have official tech support (phone support, perhaps, and I’d gladly pay by the minute for it), but in the end, my case worker, Adriana, was a big help via e-mail (even if it appeared I was hell bent on proving her wrong). In one e-mail, Adriana wrote: “Also, the images on that file are stunningly beautiful. I’m sure when you are done, this will be a stellar piece. Hang in there.” (Thanks for that, Adriana—your comment cheered me up until I got frustrated again.)

I wrote about MagCloud on this blog here in 2009 and here in 2010. This is the first time I’ve taken the time to work on a project to try out the service.

Despite my repeated attempts to upload what I thought was a properly-prepared file, I was met with the same *&#)*!@&#)!# error message every time. I was using their template that I had downloaded for this size and was told later by Adriana that they discontinued the template so I shouldn’t use it (did I miss that meeting?). I read the pdf preparation file that Adriana e-mailed me so I could amend my template to their exact specs. I created seven different files, all with the same end result. Eventually I resorted to exporting four page simple test pages just to prove my theory that it couldn’t possibly be me causing these latest problems. After a while, I started naming things like: magtestone.pdf, magtesttwo.pdf, final.pdf, finalfinal.pdf, reallyfinalfinal.pdf, thisisthelastoneIswear.pdf, Igiveupmylifeisover.pdf, magcloudyouareonmylastnerve.pdf, Illneverbeaselfpublisher.pdf and magcloudpleaseletmeinorIwillunpostallthoseglowingreviewsaboutyou.pdf. I briefly contemplated assigning a file name that would make even my toes curl, but I figured the system would spit it back at me for being so unladylike.

After a day to reflect, run errands and come back with fresh eyes, I figured out what I was doing wrong. It was a very simple little step that I had overlooked—do not click on “spreads” when you’re outputting the pdf for MagCloud. If you do, you will be informed (repeatedly) that page 1 is okay but the other pages aren’t the same size (which sounds completely insane because it is the same file). You will also be told that your bleeds are not correct. That one stupid mistake kept me up until 2:00 a.m., then I finally waved the white flag.

The file is now uploaded and I’ll receive my sample copy sometime next week. I’m crossing my fingers that it looks as good in print as it looks in the file! I already know the quality of their paper and printing is great—I’ve bought sample magazines in the past. It’s a great way to publish a magazine with very little investment (more time than money, actually)—no need to go to a traditional printer to get a decent-looking publication with this print-on-demand option. I paid an extra buck for it to be perfect bound rather than saddle-stitched (due to the number of pages). I may even open the publication up for purchase if it meets my quality control standards.

I’ve scattered some of my favorite gardening quotes through the 88-page document and have identified all the images by their print name, common flower/plant name and the Latin name. All of these images are either in the current exhibit or will be for sale at the reception on April 15. I may expand the publication (as if it isn’t long enough) and include garden photography tips as well before I offer it for sale in the MagCloud store.

If you’re in the D.C./Northern Virginia area, just skip, sashay, slink, saunter or skidaddle on over to the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens from now until April 29. If you’re in the mood for great appetizers (courtesy of Kelley Hospitality), good company and photographic eye candy (who doesn’t love flowers and bugs?), join me at the reception on April 15 from 1-3 p.m. Since the show runs until April 29, you’ll have plenty of time to see it! For more details, visit my show website here.

For now, I hope you enjoy the cover and the first 16 pages (I’ll just be over here in the corner…wearing my dunce cap).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

From the Garden Muse exhibit: Respite

13 03 2012

Canada violet (Viola canadensis), photographed at Green Spring Gardens

My exhibit, Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio, will be on display at the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA until April 29, 2012. Visit for more information.

© Cindy Dyer. All right reserved.

Revisiting “How to grow your garden photography skills”

12 03 2012

It’s (almost) that time again! Time to get out your camera (and your macro lens, if you’re fortunate to have one!) and get out in the garden to start capturing images of early spring flowers. (And if you don’t have a tripod, please get one. As much as you may not like toting one around, they are instrumental in capturing really sharp macro images; trust me on this!)

In my front yard garden, I already have Crocus and Tulips in bloom, and the Hellebores have been blooming since late January (hardy and eager plants, those Hellebores!).

This past fall I was interviewed and featured on the website about photographing gardens. Since the weather is getting warmer every day and early spring flowers are making their appearance in our part of the country, I thought I’d share the article and accompanying photos with you again! Click on the link below:

Re-post: Water like satin

11 03 2012

Originally posted May 26, 2009. Sunset begins at Lake Land’Or.

The Lake. To — by Edgar Allan Poe (1827)

In spring of youth it was my lot
To haunt of the wide world a spot
The which I could not love the less—
So lovely was the loneliness
Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
And the tall pines that towered around.

But when the Night had thrown her pall
Upon that spot, as upon all,
And the mystic wind went by
Murmuring in melody—
Then, ah then I would awake
To the terror of the lone lake.

Yet that terror was not fright,
But a tremendous delight—
A feeling not the jewelled mine
Could teach or bribe me to define—
Nor Love—although the Love were thine.

Death was in that poisonous wave,
And in its gulf a fitting grave
For him who thence could solace bring
To his lone imagining—
Whose solitary soul could make
An Eden of that dim lake.

Photo © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Handsome Lobo

6 03 2012

Lobo (Spanish for “wolf”) is almost nine months old now and is incredibly handsome. His fur shimmers and I’m wondering if he is a Russian Blue mix. I read on Wikipedia that these cats are known to be highly intelligent and playful, but tend to be timid around strangers. That certainly fits the bill with this little guy.

When I photograph him, his fur shimmers and he looks almost metallic and a bit ghostly! I also learned there is a longer-haired breed called a Nebelung. I’m leaning toward that identification now that I’ve seen so many photos of this breed. Lobo has medium-long hair and a full tail, unlike most of the cats I’ve seen that are labeled Russian Blue. Trademark traits of a Nebelung cat are a long, graceful body (check), sweet, quiet and gentle disposition (check, check, check), and they are curious and tranquil (check, check).

Since he isn’t really answering to his name (yet), I could rename him “Pewter.” Any input?

He and our tabby Pixel (whom we call his brother, even though they’re not from the same litter) have finally (after four long months) been fully integrated into the household, much to our older cat’s chagrin. ZenaB has finally accepted that they aren’t going away but she shows them who is still Queen of the Ottoman from time to time. I’ve got a cute shot of Pixel covered with toys (shades of “Stuff on my cat”) that I’ll share next.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Garden Muse Show: Random Dozen

5 03 2012

My photography exhibit, titled “Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio,” is up and ready for viewing at the Horticulture Center at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia. Green Spring Gardens is located at 4603 Green Spring Road in Alexandria, VA. All images are for sale and a portion of the proceeds will benefit Green Spring Gardens’ FROGS program (Friends of Green Spring Gardens).

The exhibit runs February 28-April 29, 2012, so there’s plenty of time to come see it if you’re in the Virginia/D.C. area or are planning to visit this spring. The reception is Sunday, April 15 from 1-3 p.m. So set aside your taxes (if you’re not already done with them at that point!) and come join me at the reception for some mingling, delicious appetizers (catering by Barbara Kelley of Kelley Hospitality) and refreshments. There will be additional framed images, matted-only images and greeting cards for sale during the reception. And please don’t forget to sign my guest book!

Show website:


Below is collage of just a dozen of the images (out of a whopping total of 74!) featured in the show. All images are matted and framed and eight images are gallery wrapped canvases that range from 18″x24″ up to 20″x30″ in size. If you’ve never had your best photos transferred to canvas, don’t get started on it. It is highly addictive and quite pricey, but the results are so spectacular that you’ll have a hard time resisting the pull. And the larger you go, the higher the price (and the bigger the smile, too). Intervention, anyone?


I just found out that the Washington Post listed the exhibit in their online “Going Out Guide,” and I have six reviews online so far!

Impressive—This is by far the best exhibit I have seen at Green Spring Gardens. This is a coup for them. Of course, Fairfax County Parks are the best. But this show tops everything. Nature captured!”

This Will Make You Smile—This is macro photography at its best. Ms. Dyer manages to inspire smiles from her deeply colorful and sometimes playful images of nature. A burst of color fills the room. Green Spring Gardens must be very pleased to have this exhibit.”

Incredible Color—This exhibit grabs you as you walk in the building. Don’t miss the images on canvas! Absolutely beautiful. I have so many favorites! The detail, color, composition of every one of these images is fantastic. This show is not to be missed!”

Wow…I mean…wow.—I’m a photographer who had a show in the same space a couple of years back and seeing what Ms. Dyer did with her show blew my mind. It is a gorgeous display of nature photography. Just a joy to see.”

A Feast for the Eyes and a Lift for the Soul—This photographic show is an exhibit of beautifully-composed macro-photography of plants and insects. The flowers are lovely and a riot of color and composition. Many of the photographs were taken in Green Spring Garden Park. I loved it and I am recommending it to my friends!”

Excellent Photographer—I have been waiting to see this exhibit for weeks! Lovers of nature, botany and excellent photography will not be disappointed.”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio—the time has finally arrived!

1 03 2012

Whew…that was a lot of work! On Monday I had the help with the installation from some very dear friends. Mega thanks to Tom and Holly for loading up their van with nearly all of the pieces (we only had three boxes that wouldn’t fit), taking them over to Green Spring Gardens and unloading all of them before we even got there! Thanks to Cam for flying all the way up from Florida to help art direct, plan and help me get ready. Heartfelt thanks to her, Karen W. and Michael for their work hanging images, cleaning frames, lifting, aligning, cajoling, editing and all-around constant support of whatever adventure I insert myself into. I couldn’t have gotten it all done on Monday without the help of these five amazing people! And thanks to friend and fellow photographer, Jeff Evans, who I often declare is, “solely responsible for both encouraging me to pursue the exhibit as well as my current financial deficit as a result of said exhibit.”

The first four comments in my guest book were written by Cam, Karen and Michael on Monday after the installation was complete. The fifth entry was made by Doug and Kay from Alexandria and it really made my day on Tuesday afternoon when Michael and I drove over to do a bit more tweaking to the exhibit. They wrote:

“Amazing! Incredible close-up focus. Fabulous colors.
My favorite exhibit at Green Spring Gardens to date.”

Does it get any better than that? I think not. And a note to my sister Kelley—Barbara wrote in her comment yesterday that she was tickled by the names of the images. Thank you for helping me name them!

What Cam and I love about the venue is that when you enter the Horticulture Center my exhibit is the first thing that catches your eye (see photo #1 in the collage below). And the way the spotlights are aimed on the ramp, you can see the exhibit as you approach the building before you even open the door! I have my 20×30 gallery wrap canvas images hanging on both side of the trellis panels that span the divider wall before you go down the ramp located behind the wall (photo #2). Everything you see through that divider wall is eye level, but when you ’round the corner (photo #3), you see many more images that are actually near eye level from that vantage point, making it a multi-level presentation. Cam was so instrumental in keeping order within each panel so that even though there are 74 total (yes, we counted!) images on display, there is a sense of order throughout the entire exhibit that keeps it streamlined, believe it or not. The last photo in the collage below shows Cam surveying her art directing handiwork.

On the ramp I have a show poster above the planter pots that contain business cards (photo #5). There are also complimentary postcards, a guest book and a portfolio with a bio, collages of images shot exclusively at Green Spring Gardens, and a section with non-gardening images such as portraits, weddings and magazine covers and features (photo #4). I’ll be adding a visual price index to the back of the book early next week. Although it doesn’t show in the photos below, I now have medium-sized signs placed below each panel with a visual reference to each image within that section (as well as the print name, common flower name, Latin name and price). Since the venue doesn’t allow for anything to be attached directly to the wall, I had to improvise with my pricing labels.

If you’re in the D.C./Northern Virginia area, the show will up for viewing from now until April 29. The reception is Sunday, April 15 from 1-3 p.m. There will be yummy appetizers and refreshments served (with wonderful tablescaping in the works!) and other pieces with be available for purchase during that time. I’ll have matted images (ready to frame), framed images and notecards for sale as well. For more information about the show, visit my show website below:

I’m putting together a slide show set to music to share on and my blog for all of you who are interested in seeing the entire portfolio but can’t make it to the show. Stay tuned! I will also be compiling a list of the great resources (prints, canvas printing, frames, framing accessories, greeting cards, posters, polybags, etc.) and tips that I’ve learned about while preparing for this exhibit.