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“Depth of Field” Exhibit at SB Botanic Garden Gallery

October 14, 2023 @ 10:00 am - December 16, 2023 @ 5:00 pm PDT


Though originally taken for scientific purposes, the images of California native plants in a new exhibit at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Gallery were photographed using a specialized technique that created dramatic portraits against a black background. “Depth of Field: Botanical Photography Through the Low-key Lens” features images taken over a period of fifty years by eight photographers using the “low-key” technique to document species in the field.

“Depth of Field” is on view in the Garden’s Pritzlaff Conservation Center Gallery daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through December 9, 2023, and is free with Garden admission. Reservations to visit the Garden are required and can be made by visiting www.sbbotanicgarden.org/visit/hours-reservations. Residents of Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and Kern counties receive 20% discount on admission through December 2023.

The 41 giclee prints in the show were made from previously digitized color slides that were chosen from among thousands stored in the Garden’s archives. The photos were taken in the field during broad daylight, but appear to be night or studio images. They span 1947 to 2000 and feature works taken by eight individuals associated with the Garden, including staff, board members, and volunteers.

In the “low-key” technique, an underexposed photo is combined with a bright light, in this case a flash, to illuminate the close-up plant while the background remains dark. The technique is still used by photographers today, but digital cameras and sophisticated photo apps have generally replaced slide film and traditional photo developing methods.

Advance reservations for Garden admission are required for non-members and recommended for Garden members. Each reservation ensures entry and includes parking for one vehicle. Carpooling is advised. Garden hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the last reservation at 4 p.m. Reservations are available by specific date and time at www.sbbotanicgarden.org/visit/hours-reservations. Residents of Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, and Kern Counties receive 20% off admission through December 2023.

Photographers featured in the show include:

Lyda Edge – an amateur botanist and Garden volunteer from 1969 to 1979

J.R. “Bob” Haller, Ph.D. (1930–2016) – retired UCSB professor who was an education botanist at the Garden for 22 years (Dieter Wilken and Steve Junak were Haller’s students at UCSB)

Steve Junak – botanical instructor and later the curator of the Clifton Smith Herbarium who retired after 37 years at the Garden; currently botanist emeritus and a research associate

Reid Moran, Ph.D. (1916–2010) – began his career at the Garden in 1947 as a staff botanist and later served as the curator of botany at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Donald Myrick (1893–1972) – served on Garden’s Board of Trustees from 1956 to 1972

Betty Randall Potts – wildlife photographer and Garden member in the 1990s

Dieter H. Wilken, Ph.D. – retired as director of research and conservation in 2013 after 20 years at the Garden; currently a research associate in the Garden’s Clifton Smith Herbarium

Dorothy King Young (1904–1999) – well-known wildflower enthusiast, author (“Redwood Empire Wildflowers”), and founding member of the California Native Plant Society


October 14, 2023 @ 10:00 am PDT
December 16, 2023 @ 5:00 pm PDT
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