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My Favorite Places – International Water Lily Collection

July 9, 2011

© - Blue Dasher Dragonfly

I do not make a lot of images of flowers.  For a reasonably stationary item, I have a horrible time getting them right.  It is likely where my creativity with composing falters the most.  But the International Water Lily Collection in San Angelo Civic League Park is one of my favorite places to make images.

This seems to be contradictory, but it really isn’t.

First, most of the time when I go to the Water Lily Collection, it isn’t for the water lilies.  My training on dragonfly images was at the Water Lily Collection.  The area is swarming with Blue Dasher and Eastern Amberwing dragonflies.  As such, this has been a great place for me to go to practice on these wonderful creatures.  A number of damselflies are present there as well, though it is much more difficult to compose for damsels than dragons due to the way things are laid out and the fencing that is present to discourage people from taking flowers home.  My cover image for Lake Country Life last May was an image of a Blue Dasher made at the Water Lily Garden.  It isn’t my favorite image from the garden, but it is certainly in my top five.

© - Green Heron

Occasionally birds are present as well.  The only images I have in my library of green herons were made at the Water Lily Collection.  It seems that they like the dragonflies as well, though in their larval state rather than their flying state and there is plenty on the menu for them to choose from.

And every once in a while I do make some attempts at making images of the water lilies.  Once in a while they turn out very well.  But the rest of the time it reminds me why I still have things to learn about photography.

In the general vicinity there is also a large number of land-based flowers, and I have also made some pretty nice images of butterflies and bees in the area as well.

I have had success making images there from as early in the year as mid-May to well into October.  The Lily Fest, which for my purposes is probably the worst time to try to make images, is typically held in mid-September and as such this is when the flowers are probably at their best.

© - Water Lily

So beyond the fact that I have made some images there that I am very happy with, why is it one of my favorite places?  It was a place I could go to after work, get an hour or so of shooting in, and then get home in time for dinner.  The light was reliably good because there were very few structures immediately around the place.  And the area was peaceful.  Certainly there are busy streets near by, but the fact that the garden was below street level kept most of the noise away and made for a somewhat quiet area in the middle of a town of 100,000 people.

Dragonflies, birds, and flowers.  Quiet shooting location.  Good place to make images.  That is why the International Water Lily Collection in San Angelo is one of my favorite places for photography.

About the images:

The top image is that of a Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) perched on a water lily of unknown species in September 2007.  This is the edit of the picture that I like the most, but when published as the cover image in Lake Country Life they took a more vertical perspective on the image. The bottom image is a water lily of unknown name/species taken at the International Water Lily Collection sometime in July 2008.   Both are available for sale at  The middle image is of a Green Heron (Butorides virescens) that appears to be doing a pre-flight inspection.  This image was also made in July 2008.

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