April 24, 2010

Greenhouse's blossoms open early for local photogs

Outside, there was fog coming in from the lake, and drizzle from above. But inside Wayne's Daughters Greenhouse on Douglas Avenue Saturday afternoon there was lush greenery, a rainbow of bright colors and the steady click, click, click of camera shutters.

Although the door to the greenhouses had a hand-written sign saying, "No Peeking. Open May 1st," a contingent of area photographers -- mostly amateurs -- spent the afternoon taking pictures of the beautiful flowers inside, and sharing with each other their knowledge of how best to do so.

The air was full of conversations about "ISO," "aperture," "depth of field" and the like, as the Milwaukee Photography Meetup Group spent the afternoon wandering from flower to flower, trying a low f-stop here to blur the background, available light there, a macro lens to get in really close, a long zoom lens for a sea of flowers, diffused flash for some extra pop. Maybe even a spritz of water.

At all times the two-dozen photogs obeyed the first rule of nature photography, as laid out by Michael Lee LaPointe, who organized the shoot: "Take only pictures; leave only footprints." Casey Loppnow, who with her sister Katie -- both are actually two of Wayne's four daughters, if you must ask -- runs the operation, was less doctrinaire, making clear that the photogs could move this or that to get the picture they wished, as long as they put it back when done. As for spritzing the flowers with water for effect, "Just don't soak 'em," she said.

Wayne's Daughters Greenhouses date back to a family farm in 1839. Casey said some nieces are the ninth generation involved in the business, which has both a more rustic  "farm" location, at 2429 43rd St. in Caledonia, and the "city" location that has been in operation for six years at 6207 Douglas Ave. in Caledonia.

What sets Wayne's Daughters Farm and Greenhouses apart from, say, the larger Milaegers, located a mile and a half south, is this, according to Casey: "We do all the dirty work. We grow everything ourselves." It's a family tradition, she said; from the time they were little, the girls were "picking rocks and picking produce. It's how we became such a strong family." Someone asked Casey whether she has a PhD in horticulture. "No," she said, "just a lifetime of knowledge."

The greenhouses will  open to the public on May 1, and flower lovers who've been here before know to come early. "By May 16, you're done," said one of the photographers, looking up briefly from his Nikon's eyepiece. Within a couple of weeks, all the monster-sized hanging flower baskets, for example  -- 24" pots with dozens of beautiful flowers planted in late January/early February, none costing more than $70 -- will be gone. Here's the link to Wayne's Daughters Greenhouses website.

For more information about the Milwaukee Photography Meetup group, go here. The group's next scheduled event is Saturday, May 1, at 3:30 p.m., photographing wildflowers at Petrifying Springs Park. Photographers of all skill levels are usually welcomed at the group's events, most of which are free.

Casey Loppnow with a new flower, Picasso, a member of the petunia family

 A closer view of Picasso, with its green-bordered bloom, from Proven Winner

To see more pictures taken by photogs at today's photoshoot at Wayne's Daughters Greenhouses, check here.


  1. Casey, you look beautiful.

  2. Tim the Shrubber4/26/2010 8:22 AM

    Looks like fun.

  3. Gee, I wonder why I shop at Wayne's Daughters?????

  4. Looks like Pete's giving free advertising. Hey Pete, how do I sign up for free advsrtising?

  5. advertising that is!

  6. Notice how Pete does not respond when you call him on something!

  7. Pete - Now you've got the JT's doing the same - are you guys into taking photos of Waynes hot daughters?