Prime Time for the Rhododendrons

First Cousins to the Azalea, the Rhododendrons always blom on the heels of their heels making them sort of a grand finale of spring.  The super heat of summer is just around the corner here and with it, the Sunflowers. All shots with a Nikon D750 with a 24-120mm f/4 lens.  Thanks for stopping by and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

Spring II

The Big Show is now in full bloom with Azaleas, Dogwoods and Tulips, and Lenten Roses coming on Stage.

And the Rhododendrons are waiting in the wings.  All shots with Nikon D750 and 24-120mm f/4.

Thanks for looking.  I will be away next weekend to participate in a Memorial Service for my sister, June Allison Harding who died in Maine at the age of 81.


Top photo, white Dogwood. shot with Nikon D700 and Nikkor 70-200mm f/4, Formosa Azalea shot with Nikon D750 and Nikkor 16-35mm f/4, Forsythia Nikon D750, Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 and lastly, Pear blossoms shot with Nikon D700 and Nikkor 60 mm f/2.8.  Thanks for visiting and have a great week ahead.  See you next time.

Composing Bridal Veil

Bridal Veil Spirea, or Bridal Wreath as it is also known, has long been a favorite of Florists, particularly those who specialize in weddings.  That’s probably where the popular names originated. Native to Japan, Korea and China, Bridal Veil is easy to grow, loves full sun and often reaches a height of 10 feet.  It’s tiny flowers resemble many of the fruit tree blooms we see in the Spring: apple, pear, cherry, etc…   This past week, I took it upon myself to photograph the blooms before the flower arrangers got to them.

A micro or macro lens is pretty much a must for these tiny blooms.  I used my trusty 60mm Nikon f/2.8 which allows extreme close focusing within 6 inches of the flowers.  The 60mm does not have vibration reduction so a tripod is a must.  I came back with maybe a dozen or so shots. I quickly narrowed them down to two.

Of the two, I preferred the above but to me, the composition didn’t work because I had decided to focus on the flowers closest to the lens which put them at the bottom of the photograph.  What to do? I tried cropping  most of the out of focus area out of the picture but I still didn’t like the in focus flowers at the bottom of the photograph. After noodling around for a few minutes, I decided to enlarge the photograph in photoshop, crop much of the out of focus area out of the composition and flip the picture putting the sharper flowers at the top left.

After fooling with these three compositions for an hour, I found myself warming to the first two photographs, though for some reason I cannot fathom, I still prefer the bottom photograph which the sharper blooms at the top left. No, I am not left handed.   As they say, whatever floats your boat.  Thanks for enduring this.  I appreciate your time.  Have a good week ahead. See you next time.

Thriving Camellias

It was near 85 degrees here in Southeastern North Carolina yesterday and this morning it was 35!  Tonight the forecast is for a low in the 20’s.  The roller coaster weather is driving my sinuses crazy but the Camellias are thriving. Almost overnight, it seems, we go from blooms burned by the freezing temperatures to a new round of buds and flowers. 

These were all taken with a Nikon D750 Camera fitted with a Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens.  Manual exposure, spot metering, f/4 aperture and an ISO setting of 160.  Gotta run, the Daffodils are blooming. Thanks for the look and have a large weekend.  See you next time.

Prime Time for Winter Flowering Camellias

As January wains, the Camellia Japonicas are approaching their prime blooming season.  These shrubs need to be located in a sheltered location to protect the foliage but also the flower buds.  Once they bloom, the flowers are incredibly hearty and can withstand low tempertures, but the buds are very fragile.  Here on the farm. the Camellias, most  are over 75 years old, are located under Lob Lolly pines and right behind the Azalea beds.  We’re expecting temperatures dropping into the teens and low 20’s which will likely damage even well protected shrubs, so I wanted to get some shots before the deep freeze sets in.

While these shrubs are exposed to filtered light during most of the day, the afternoon sun reaches them directly.  For that reason, I usually wait until late afternoon , after 3PM before I venture out.   As is my usual practice, I use the lowest ISO setting I can get away with while shooting at f/11 or f/8 if possible.   I  almost always use spot metering taking the light reading off the bloom itself, and usually will use manual exposure and, of course, I use a tripod.   These shots were all taken with a Nikon D750 camera fitted with a Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 Micro lens.  “Micro” is Nikon-speak for Macro lens. Unlike many, I prefer the 60mm because I like to work close to the subject.  For insects, butterflies etc, I use my Nikon 105mm Micro. I always shoot in RAW because it allows me more control over white balance, light and color.  I use the RAW conversion panel in Photoshop Elements.

As always, thank you for visiting, and happy shooting.  See you next time.


Very Early Quince

Time was, we never saw the Japanese Quince bloom until late February,but now with the new normal, it shows up in January.  If we keep going at this rate, it’ll be around at Christmas time.

Japanese Quince is the common name for this spiny shrub but its also native to Korea, China, Bhutan and Burma. I first noticed the small red buds breaking out last week.

I’ll be going back to grab some shots when the flowers are fully open, but with the scarcity of color in the winter months, I’m obsessed with grabbing every pixel of color I see. I used two cameras for these shots. a Nikon D700 fitted with a 60mm Nikkor Micro (Macro) lens and a Sony A6000 fitted with a Sony Zeiss 16-70mm lens. I’m heading back to the ancient Camellia beds now. The Camellia Japonicas are really hitting their stride now and I need to grab some shots before the really cold stuff bites them. As always, thanks for the look and have a good week ahead. See you next time.