• Gina Matarazzo

Photo Fun Excursions: Creekside Gardens

I took numerous photo trips during 2019, with most of them being in the Summer. Some were individual or with friends, while others were part of a fantastic photography course I took at Northampton Community College (Tannersville, PA). If I dedicated one blog to all the trips I made last year, that blog would be long! So, instead, I have decided to feature some of these trips in my blog twice a month, entitling them “Photo Fun Excursions” My goal is to introduce you to some of the places I loved exploring. These are the places where I captured great photos, but most importantly, they created great memories. This week’s stop is the beautiful Creekside Gardens in Tunkhannock, PA!

In Northeastern, Pennsylvania, in a town called Tunkhannock sits a fascinating place to visit: Creekside Gardens. For over twenty years, Creekside Gardens has been offering the public with a fantastic selection of plants and unique garden accessories, delicious homemade food, educational workshops, and, my favorite, opportunities to get close to butterflies.

Butterflies are so fascinating to watch and even more fascinating to photograph. I have a few milkweed plants and butterfly bushes in my garden that bloom early in the Summer; however, I don’t see an influx of butterflies until mid- to- late August. Despite the deliciousness of the plant, the butterflies are still skittish and fearful, and photographing them needs to be done at a distance with a zoom lens. Having the butterflies in an area that provides them with the nutrition, habitat, and safety they need helps them feel comfortable. This is why the Butterfly House at Creekside Gardens is a great place to capture fantastic butterfly shots.

I first went to Butterfly House in June of last year. My friend was transitioning to a new job, so she had some free time to go exploring. We had both heard so many good reviews about Creekside Gardens, so we figured we’d take a trip there. The drive wasn’t too bad, it took a little over an hour, but the scenery along the way was terrific. The more north you go in Pennsylvania, the more scenic it becomes. The town of Tunkhannock sits along the Susquehanna River, so there are plenty of spots you can stop to photograph this beautiful water. When we go to Creekside Gardens, we purchased our tickets for the Butterfly House. Tours are every 30 minutes, so we had a bit of time exploring the selection of plants and garden accessories. I find photographing at a nursery to be fun. There is something about the way the plants are arranged that make them quite beautiful. I was able to get some shots of the water fountain, garden statues, and some cornflowers. Before we knew it, it was time for our tour of the Butterfly House.

Before going into the Butterfly House, the guide explains your experience. The butterflies are free to fly around the house, meaning, they can land on your head, shirt, arms, etc. You are given a sugar stick— a sweet treat for the butterflies. It’s pretty much Gatorade on a Q-tip. There are plants and plates of oranges and watermelons all around the house. In the corner section of the house is a monarch chrysalis section. On a corkboard, there are about 40 monarch cocoons. Visitors can observe the cocoons at different parts of their development. You will even find cocoons in which the butterfly has left, so it is just the shell. Seeing the cocoons is quite exciting, and they make for some great photographs.

Visitors are only allowed about thirty minutes in the house so that there can be several groups a day. After we were done at the house, my friend and I went into the shop. There you will find all sorts of delicious goodies, unique household items, and Cosmo the Parrot. Photographing inside the shop is just as fun as shooting the plant selections. The small, fairy garden collection is excellent for capturing macro shots, and Cosmo is always ready to pose.

To capture my images, I used only my Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II Mirrorless Camera. That camera is great because it is small and lightweight. Also, the mirrorless cameras produce very vivid and sharp images. While photographing the plant selections and store, I shot in manual and ARTBKT (Art Bracket). However, while in the Butterfly House, I shot in automatic. Typically I don't like shooting in automatic because the camera doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes the ISO is too high, so pictures are noisy. Sometimes there isn’t enough light, or sometimes there is too much light. Regardless, sometimes you have to bite the bullet. When you are in a situation in which you are timed, or your subjects are unpredictable, shooting in automatic is the way to go. Shooting in automatic gave me the ability to focus more on my subjects and how I wanted to capture them, instead of continually adjusting shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. One of the things I noticed about my images was that they were crisp and clear. I didn’t seem to have too many issues with over or underexposure or noise in my pictures. So shooting in automatic was an excellent choice for this shoot!

Creekside Gardens is a great place to visit at any time of the year! There is so much do and see here and is a perfect excursion for the entire family. You can pick up a few homemade goodies, see Cosmo, and even come home with a monarch chrysalis (I did!) To learn more and see what they are offering in the upcoming weeks, visit http://creeksidegardens.com.

Thanks for reading!

XO Gina

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