Our journey through the British and Irish Isles has taken us to plenty of wild and rugged remote islands. But for me one of the most delightful sights is always in the center of the lushly tropical Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly (don’t say Scilly Isles around the locals). These low beach-laden isles off the tip of Cornwall enjoy a moderate climate thanks to the Gulf Stream and carry a romantic history of smuggling and seafaring rouges.
There in the center of the garden is the lovely Shell House. Within, the walls are covered with incredibly intricate, iridescent floral scenes lovingly made from thousands upon thousands of seashells. I’ve never seen a finer evocation of the lure of seashore and sun-washed beaches. Flowers made from shells collected on the island’s shores burst forth from foliage like the flowers in the surrounding gardens..
The designs are a delight to explore with the eye and with the camera, with the sunlight thrown up from the surround walkways making them glow. I know our journey will bring us to sheer Atlantic cliffs and lonely abandoned islands, but this is a perfect beginning of a marine journey.
Pro Tip: Sometimes little cameras have big advantages. Don’t assume that your little camera phone (like the iPhone I was using here) can’t take beautiful pictures. In some ways they have some real advantages, especially when it comes to photographing close-ups of small objects.
One of their biggest advantages over a full-size DSLR is that the lens has an extremely short focal length. This translates into extreme depth of field: virtually everything from a few feet away to the horizon is in focus. This effect becomes really handy when you are trying to photograph flowers and other small subjects. Up close the depth-of-field advantage of a small camera becomes huge.
In order to get comparable sharpness overall with a DSLR you’ll often have to resort to a tripod and a very small f-stop, which can mean a very slow shutter speed. Meanwhile, your friend with the camera phone is merrily snapping away, enjoying a creative advantage and probably making some beautiful pictures.