Backyard Firepit Sanctuary

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It’s a blustery winter day here in Minnesota and the weather forecast is calling for 6-8″ of new snow on top of the two feet we already have from early season storms.  As a winter lover, I think a return to a good old-fashioned winter is fantastic.  The only downside that I see is that there won’t be many opportunities to make beautiful outdoor garden landscape photographs like the one above until spring hits again.  This set of images were from a project that I did for Axel Landscapes this fall.  It is a firepit and patio that they just completed for a home in far western Minneapolis right along the Golden Valley/St. Louis Park/Hopkins border.

Chris and his award-winning crew at Axel Landscapes in Hopkins, MN are one of the best in town at creating patios, outdoor kitchens, firepits, or any outdoor living area.  He’s done some paver work for me personally at Mark Teskey Architectural Photography WHQ in Edina – so I love his product and I jumped at the chance to photograph some of his work.  For those that follow my fine art work over at t3imagery.com – doing garden landscape photography is a natural combination of my landscape and my architectural photography.

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Shooting a garden patio at sundown involves a lot of planning, setup, preparation, and post-processing.  On top of that, you have to hope for the best out of the weather.  The good shooting window is somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes long depending on the weather conditions and the time of day.  If it is too early – it looks like daytime and the fire isn’t visible enough.  If too late – there is no color in the sky and the scene becomes nearly black and white.  To bring out the full beauty of the patio, I set up multiple flash units around the garden to highlight various parts of the scene.  The strobes were remotely radio-controlled from my camera so that I could adjust the power remotely and so that I wouldn’t have to manage more than power cords.  I had to keep things very portable and work fast while the light was optimal.

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During the shoot, I had Chris on hand with a garden hose soaking down the scene.  The wet reflections on the stonework makes it look more appealing – and it makes the greenery more lush.   Shortly after these pictures, the last light went out of the sky and the mosquitoes attacked and made the tear down a challenge.  I didn’t expect that many mosquitoes so late in the season – but it was a warmer than usual fall here in Minnesota.

The backyard was littered with power lines so I had a lot of post-processing work to remove those distracting items from the final scene.  I also had to remove my own gear (flash stands, power cords, etc.) from some of the images where the angles wouldn’t allow me to get them out of the scene.

Enjoy these pictures after an evening of snow removal!  Stay warm, all..

Go Somewhere Special…

Mark Teskey

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