Do You Believe in Magic?

This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it.~Thomas Carlyle

Some places in this world are magical.   They surprise and delight us.  They are visual treats that fill us with wonder.   One of our magical places is San Jose del Cabo at the tip of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

One night on a recent trip, we went to Flora’s Farm for dinner.  (That’s a lie.  In fact, we went twice–it’s that good.)  To get there by taxi, we took a rocky, dusty dirt road with hairpin turns through the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains.  Then, at the top of a hill, we saw the first glimmers of an oasis–green grass, palm trees, and a goldfish pond.

In 1996, two American visionaries Gloria and Patrick Greene, along with partner Eduardo Frias, created an oasis in the desert for their children, their dogs, and lucky visitors.   Not only did they establish an organic working farm and an open-air restaurant, they did it so well that they have gathered the attention and acclaim of foodies from all over the world, including top chefs like Thomas Keller.   The food, needless to say, is amazing–homemade bread, smoked meat, pizza baked in brick ovens, custom desserts, homegrown fruit and vegetables.  And amidst it all, the crowd is treated to live performances of rock music.

As the sun was setting, we walked through the gardens.  Through the lush overgrowth, I glimpsed a whitewashed casita with a woman in pink in the doorway.   I imagined she was preparing dinner.  (One of my many dreams involving food.)  I loved the feeling of discovery–as if I was an explorer stumbling upon a settlement.  I wanted to convey that feeling in the photo.

Here’s the shot two ways:  post processed in Photoshop and the original.

After:  Photo with Topaz Painting Effect Filter

Amidst the Sunflowers. Flora’s Farm, San Jose del Cabo. Shot with a Canon 70D.

Before:  Original Photo

Every time I imagine a garden in an architectural setting, it turns into a magical place. I think of gardens I have seen, that I believe I have seen, that I long to see, surrounded by simple walls, columns, arcades or the facades of buildings – sheltered places of great intimacy where I want to stay for a long time. Peter Zumthor

Amidst the Sunflowers. Flora Farms. Original shot, Canon 70D.

I cropped the shot, focusing on the cottage in the center.  Then I used the clone stamp tool in Photoshop to “trim” some of the “jungle” overgrowth, so that the eye could focus on the sunflowers and the casita.  I bumped up the saturation and the contrast and applied the dodge tool to brighten the trim on the casita.  As a final step, I applied a Topaz painting filer to highlight the vivid colors and the sunflowers.   I like the blur effect, simulating a paintbrush.  What do you think?  Did I achieve the effect I was striving for?   Do you feel like you’re peering through a jumble of overgrowth and spotting a little oasis?

Where is your Eden?  Do you return there again and again?  I’d love to hear your choices so I can put them on my list of places to visit.

Hope that you have a great week, everyone.  Happy travels for those of you who are on the road.

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24 replies »

  1. Well, as of right now, it’s on my list of places to visit! How lucky to be living in your Eden! I’m delighted you could jump into the conversation, Sarah. I hope you are feeling better and getting the medical attention you need.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful! The most beautiful places for me I’ve never been able to return to. The ones that spring to mind right now include staying across the street from the ocean (literally, no beach) at Pacific Grover where all the sea otters were camping out. Windows open, crashing waves. But my son’s wedding was on the beach and we stayed there at the hotel (2 weeks ago) and our room opened out on the beach. TOO NOISY. I’m getting old, I guess!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pacific Grove sounds marvelous. Sea otters camping right on the beach. I guess it’s unrealistic to expect that stays the same, but we all hope it does anyway. We want the fond memories to continue!

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  4. I was captured by the comparison of the artwork version with that of the original picture. I’ve not had much experience using filters or programs “Topaz Painting Filter” that seem so exotic and complicated to a technophobe like me. What I noticed first was that, despite creating a more ‘hazy’ quality, the artistic interpretation really brought the lines of the leaves into focus for me. In the original, the picture is actually too full, too busy to be able to grasp the fact it had so much detail. When you cropped, burnished, and redirected the eye, the true beauty of the shot came out. (I am the master of a long-winded compliment that sounds back-handed instead of sincere. Hopefully you can see past the clumsy to find the intended admiration.) Perhaps I should stick with simply saying, “I like how you make art.”

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