Thursday, January 1, 2015

Flowers of 2014

Poppy in Wane

It was a wonderful year for flowers in my neighborhood. And right in my yard. The poppies in the front yard grow like weeds. I often even forget they are there until they put up buds and then I will water them furiously out of guilt for neglect. It seemed a good year to practice taking photographs of flowers because I was often too busy with my solo show to go much further afield. And why go further if your subjects are right there.

Purple Double Ruffle Hollyhock

The hollyhocks seemed to be in competition with the poppies. There are two major issues with flowers as far as I am concerned, one is the breeze, and two is depth of field. Both the poppies and the hollyhocks because of size seem to be challenges. I should have started with daisies. My default cheat was the sport setting on my camera. Greater depth of field than the "flower" setting and it stopped the waving around of petals and stalks.

But sometimes as I mentioned in the previous blog on the photos of 2014 you just get lucky, like the day I arrived back from hanging my solo show in Trinidad, Colorado to find the first poppy of the year blooming or the one below of the last poppy of the year when I returned from another day trip. Both were quickly snapped in landscape auto. The salmon colored poppies were numerous and made appearances all over my timeline on Facebook in between those two solo shows.

First flower of the year

I planted the double ruffle hollyhock this year but a volunteer was this single hollyhock in the same color. I think it was from seeds I picked at the houses of friends and threw into the bed in front of the studio. And when photographing this blossom I was so intent on the focus of the outer edges of this 3" across bloom that I did not see the bee until I uploaded it to the computer. The exercise I had set myself was to not try to encompass the whole flower in the frame. That was also the governing exercise on the opening photo.

Volunteer Hollyhock with Bee

When you have tons of flower pictures they begin to seem ordinary so you dive into post processing techniques to to make the photo special. Though flowers, when you really get to know them, are quite special and also a pretty good challenge for any photographer.

Poppy in the front garden

The other temptation to override with flowers is the full frontal or looking down on them. The hollyhocks were no problem about looking down on because the stalks brought them to my level. But the poppies only grow to about 18 inches so you get to practice squats and getting down on your knees sometimes in other flowers. Glad my long lens does such great macros. I could get far enough away to not crush anything else.

The first flower photography exercises I did were with house plants. Most specifically, orchids. House plants have the advantage of being pose-able. You can be in complete control of the light, direction of the light, background, neighbors, etc. And the breeze. None of which is within your control with plants out of doors other than changing your location or position.


And just when you think you have your flower bed and its subjects all pegged for the best photos the plants change the rules. In the case of the hollyhocks the blooms move down the stalk. Back to deep knee squats. The good news is there is an natural tripod to be used in that position. Place legs hip width apart, squat, spread knees, and place elbows on your knees. Also improves your balance as well as leg and hip muscles.

One of the last of the Hollyhocks

The tinge of fall in the leaves I think added to the interest of this photo. Winter is here and it is back to the flowers in the studio and greenhouse. No accidental bees or raindrops as on the hollyhock picture in the previous blog. A misting from a water bottle works to add interest to the inside flowers. But nothing quite beats nature for lighting and gentle rains.

Hollyhock in the morning rain

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  1. These are so amazing, thanks for sharing them with us :)

  2. Lovely flowers and a good reminder that the world will bloom again.


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