Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership

Photos & Editing: Aline LaPierre & Victor Osaka
Visit our fine art & stock photography site:
http://www.TrueLightDigital.com

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Every garden is a work in progress. And for three hundred years, the seasons have rolled around as generations of gardeners have developed and tended the Kew Royal Botanic Garden. If indeed, the garden is a metaphor for the gardener, then Kew is the perfect opportunity to meet the British love and respect for nature.

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In addition to being a flower wonderland, Kew is a world-class botanical research center. Its extensive scientific resources are focused on finding solutions to the global challenges of biodiversity loss, food security, poverty, disease, and the changing climate.

Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the largest plant conservation program in the world. The Seed Bank focuses on saving plants faced with extinction and plants that hold the most potential for future benefit. Working with partners across 80 countries, they have successfully banked over 13% of the world’s wild plant species from regions most at risk from the ever-increasing impact of human activities.

Each day, throughout the world, four plant species are at risk of extinction. You can participate in saving them by joining the Kew Adopt a Seed program.

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A glorious peony and two magnificent purple irises in full bloom.

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Mysterious lavender flowers with lovely yellow hearts.

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A peony variety remarkable for it’s pure simplicity.

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This Kew glass house is an architectural jewel. As rare flowers and endangered species
come into bloom, they are brought here for visitors to enjoy.

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I love these wild haired individuals. I became so enthralled by nature’s unrestrained designs that I forgot to note down botanical names. To feel better about my lax attitude, I tell myself that these flowers do just fine expressing their unique personalities without knowing that we humans have given them names.

 

Coming next: African Safari

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Gothic London

 

Photos & Editing: Aline LaPierre & Victor Osaka
Visit our fine art & stock photography site:
http://www.TrueLightDigital.com

 

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THE CALLING OF THE LIGHT
WESTMINSTER ABBEY

Imposing columns, like revered immortal trees
lead the eye
from dark history when kings and queens
were wed and laid to rest,
upward to the transcendent light
aglow with ageless majesty.

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DEFYING IMPERMANENCE
WESTMINSTER ABBEY

Quietly sitting on the cool green lawn
studying the abbey’s lace-like silvery stone.
Déjà vu.
I have been here before
in a past century, in a bygone life.

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TIMELESS MOMENT
THE CLOISTER AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY

 

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“Yes! I am the girl from the colonies.”

No solace here.
Only unquestioned conceit
speaking with unyielding dominance
to the naive young girl that I was then.

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BRITAIN RULES
PARLIAMENT BUILDING
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BIG BEN ON A CLOUDY DAY

Like an oversize grandfather clock,
it faces the four corners of the land.
It’s full-bodied voice marks the pace of the hour,
a resounding symbol of immutability.

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 TRUSTED GUARDIANS
TOWER BRIDGE 

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life;
for there is in London all that life can afford.

Samuel Johnson

 

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The London Eye

Photos & Editing: Aline LaPierre & Victor Osaka
Visit our fine art & stock photography site:
http://www.TrueLightDigital.com

 

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During our stay in London last week, we took a break from photographing flowers to ride on the iconic London Eye, Europe’s tallest observation wheel.  We joined the 3.5 million annual visitors eager to experience the city’s most popular paid attraction.

 

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The Eye is quite an engineering feat. Cantilevered over the Thames and supported by tensioned steel cables, it looks like a giant bicycle wheel. Each of its 32 pods hold approximately 25 people, which means that at any one time, the wheel is carrying some 800 people. That’s approximately 10,000 people a day.

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Apart from the fact that it began to rain just as we boarded our assigned 10 ton egg-shaped glass capsule, the ride on this huge loop in the sky was quite fun. Quiet  fun, that is: no speed ride here, no heart-into-your-throat breathless screams. The Eye rotates at the leisurely pace of 10 inches per minute. Looking at it from the ground, it barely seems to move at all.

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Nonetheless, once settled in our glass pod, with a foggy London skyline at our feet and looking into the distance some 40 kilometers, the 30-minute revolution went by in a flash.

Dangling in our pod like a ripe berry, every moment became magnified. As vista upon vista unfolded, the slow inexorable pace gave rise to a surreal altered state. The incremental yet relentless pace of the Eye merged with an image of the wheel of time to remind us that, as always, time cannot be paused. The challenge remains to enjoy memorable experiences in the all-too-brief moment.

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The rain intensified as we reached the top of the wheel, adding a thrilling touch of drama to this peak moment. A great breath of freedom filled our lungs as we rolled over the crest. Even though the fog and the water droplets on the pod’s surface marred what we had hoped would be perfect aerial photographs, the moment at the top, which lasted but a few seconds (isn’t that the way of life?), gave us a new sense of connection to the city below. 

Having seen the city from such height, we landed no longer feeling like strangers in a strange land: the river, the Parliament Buildings, Westminster Abbey—all had become part of a Harry Potter-like Gothic tale which we were eager to explore. With this newfound sense of curiosity and intimacy, London was becoming our friend.

Not surprisingly, the rain stopped and the sun came out just as we exited the pod, a perfect welcoming return to the world of reality.

 

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Next “stop”: Gothic London

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How Do Flowers Heal Us?

Photos & Editing: Aline LaPierre & Victor Osaka
Visit our fine art & stock photography site:
http://www.TrueLightDigital.com

 

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I have read that flowers have healing powers.

Yes, conceivably. But how do they heal? I am curious how it is that a flower could hold healing for me. Or for you.

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Victor and I started photographing flowers about two years ago. Of all possible subjects, we often wonder what drew us to flowers? We never consciously thought: “We should photograph flowers, they will heal us.”

It just happened. A chance encounter in a Venice garden brought the powerful splendor of flowers into focus. It was as though we could hear them speak ― not in human language of course, but they spoke nonetheless. A poppy’s soft creases demanded a click of the shutter. An orchid enticed us to lean down and look more closely into its secret recesses. In the presence of a peony’s effortless beauty, our heart rates slowed and a calm spread outward from heart to fingertips.

All we know is that each encounter with a new flower brings an effusive WOW! Their radiance lasts only a few days but is worth every moment.

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In truth, understanding the healing power of flowers is an ongoing exploration. Even so, we can feel their effect in small and gradual inner changes: a little more joy, a deeper capacity to value the ephemeral nature of life, a growing trust in goodness and renewal, and with each witnessing of a full bloom, a quickening of creativity.

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How do you experience the healing power of flowers?
…to be continued.

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Note: We have created a special editing process we call Oil Impressions™
to bring out the essence of the flowers’ energies.
For more Oil Impressions™ click HERE

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The Great Archetypal Mothers

Photos & Editing: Aline LaPierre and Victor Osaka
Visit our fine art and stock photography site:
http://www.TrueLightDigital.com
 

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Every time I look through the photos we took on our trip to the Sequoias, new wonders emerge. And so, this is our third consecutive blog about the great trees.

I noticed that we took a lot of photos of the base of the Sequoias. Nothing I can say quite expresses the feeling that overcomes me when I sit at the base of an imposing centuries-old redwood.

To me, they are the GREAT MOTHERS of our planet.

Curled up at their base, I feel like a small wild animal. Under their protection, I yield and dream that I am traveling in the vast underground network of their roots and I hear them whisper…

We are all connected.
We are all one.
Harm one of us and you harm all living beings.

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In The Sequoias After The Snow

Photos & Editing: Aline LaPierre & Victor Osaka
Visit our fine art & stock photography site:
http://www.TrueLightDigital.com
 

If ever we walked on sacred ground, it was on a fresh blanket of snow
in an old Sequoia forest.

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This magnificent experience
is best put into words
by naturalist John Muir.

A few minutes ago every tree
was excited, bowing to the roaring storm,
waving, swirling, tossing their branches
in glorious enthusiasm like worship.
But though to the outer ear
these trees are now silent,
their songs never cease.
Every hidden cell
is throbbing with music and life,
every fiber thrilling like harp strings…” 

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Little bird searching for food
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When a Veil of Fog Envelops the Forest

Photos/Poem: Aline LaPierre    Photos/Editing: Victor Osaka

We love taking our cameras to the Sequoias, particularly in the winter when, at an altitude of 8,000 feet, a magical winter wonderland awaits. On this last trip, we were fortunate to experience a dense, enveloping fog. When the fog lifted, we found ourselves wonderstruck in a thick but silent snowfall (coming in a future blog post).

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When a veil of fog envelops the forest
All life stands still.

Fog softens the world,
Smooths the rough edges,
Compels my eye to search
For familiar forms.

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I see the boulder
Intimately coupled with the tree,

The fledgling taking root
At the foot of its giant elders.

I see the two joined partners
Steadfastly growing side by side

And the one worn stump standing alone,
A resilient testimony of what once was.

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When a veil of fog envelops the forest,
I am uplifted, transported,
As though life’s mysteries
Are but a breath away.

Cloaked in fog
The forest takes on a presence
That transcends my self-important mind,
Forces me to look
With the eyes of the soul.

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