A visit to the Dallas Arboretum

This post is a little different from my normal fare, so feel free to glance and move on (or if you like it, let me know that too). Earlier this week I traveled to Argentina, but along the way I found myself unexpectedly spending a day in Dallas due to a missed connection. Such travel snags are never fun, especially when the result is an entire day lost from a tight itinerary. I do, however, have to give American Airlines props for comping me a night’s stay at the Downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel (very, very nice!). The following day, my flight to Buenos Aires would not leave until early evening, so I had to find some way to occupy myself after my noon checkout. Whenever I find myself in a large city looking for something to do, my first thought is always the local botanical garden. Dallas, of course, has a world class example of such—the Dallas Arboretum, situated in the heart of the city on the east side of White Rock Lake. Any time of year is a good time to visit a botanical garden, but fall is without question my favorite time. Turning leaves and late-season blooms would have been enticement enough, but this particular day found the garden in the midst of its annual fall festival, featuring a Pumpkin Village and a charming little “Small Houses of Great Artists” exhibit, and artfully placed throughout the garden were glass sculptures by world-famous Dale Chihuly. There was a lot to see, and I’m thankful that I had the luxury of exploring the garden’s many meandering paths at a leisurely pace without feeling rushed for time.

Frustratingly, I had decided not to bring my good camera with me on this trip since I didn’t anticipate any opportunities for photography. Even though I’m not normally inclined to photograph gardens and especially sculptures (preferring instead native and naturalized landscapes), I found the expert fusion of art and nature in the displays irresistible and did what I could with my smart phone (which, it turns out, takes surprisingly good photos for its size, especially for certain applications such as wide-angle landscapes). Obviously, armed with such, it’s hard to take “unique” photos of subjects that thousands of others (also armed mostly with smart phones) are passing by daily. Hopefully, however, I managed one or two that provide a different perspective. With that, I’ve picked out my 24 favorites and present them here in a brief slide show (the slides cycle continuously, beginning with “Mexican Hat Tower” and ending with “Blue Icicles”). Below that is a gallery of the photos in case the slideshow does not function in your browser or if you would like to see a larger version of a particular photo.

I know which are my favorites—are there any that you would call out (compositionally at least)?

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Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012

10 thoughts on “A visit to the Dallas Arboretum

  1. Sorry to hear about your travel snafu.

    Great photography. Neat little photo widget: compact, dynamic. I always hesitate posting too many photos.

    Best wishes, …

  2. How amazing to see you emerge from behind the lenses of microphotography to the common tool of the iPhone’s 8GB of information. The subjects of the photographs were of course quite special, & that is why those of us who carry our iPhones love them so. For they are always with us, ready to capture the moment. Be it a funny pet, charming grandchild, street musician, or falling leaves dancing in the wind,
    One year I joined in a photo a day iPhone project. Perhaps you might be interested.

    • Although I use my iPhone frequently for “snapshots” of “stuff”, this was the first time I really leaned on it for a more creative effort. Not that I will ever treat these photos as anything more than snapshots, but the idea of using the iPhone in such a way was actually a bit liberating. I’ve already started relying on it for habitat shots of the insects that I photograph. Such photos don’t require the same level of quality as my insect photos, and it is really nice to be able to whip out the iPhone and snap a quick shot when I’m done with the insect rather than switching out lenses on the big camera.

  3. I like the pumpkin village ones a lot. I’m trying to figure out how they arranged all those punpkins without slipping and tripping.
    Blue icicles, very cool(-ing).

    • Thanks, DFW! We had a Chihuly exhibit locally at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The glass was beautiful, but I don’t recall it capturing me like it did at the Dallas Arboretum – there was something about how the pieces were incorporated into the landscape that I found much more interesting. Even this time there were sculptures that, though spectacular in their own right, were not as interestingly integrated and that I didn’t bother to photograph.


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