Sasanqua Encore

The warm weather for the past several weeks has extended the Camellia Sasanqua season here on the farm but a heavy frost is forecast tonight (Saturday the 10th) so this may be their last curtain call.

These were all taken with a vintage Nikon D700 and a 70-200mm f/4 nikkor lens.

Thanks for dropping by and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

The Sasanqua’s return

I suppose they just knew to wait until Hurricane Florence did its worst before deciding to come on stage.  Sasanquas are delicate blooms and it doesn’t take much wind at all to tear them off the bush. .

.  Sasanquas are in the same family as Camellias but are not as tightly constructed as their cousins.  Each bloom is just a little different and for my money, they catch the light better.

I shot these with my usual setup for flower photography: a Nikon D700 camera and a 6omm Nikon Micro lens.  “Micro” is Nikon speak for Macro.  The D700 is a 12 mp camera but it more than holds its own in flower photography.  My view is that those 12mp spread across the full frame catches the light better.

Sasanquas don’t bloom long only into mid-October.  Camellias have a much longer stay, first blooming in mid to late November and continuing right on up to March.  After the devastation of Florence, the Sasanquas were a welcome sign that life does indeed go on.  Thanks for the visit and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

A Visit To The Flower Cooler

It usually happens every year about this time.  The last of the summer flowers, the sunflowers, have had their days in the sun and  the summer heat has cooked the clouds into oblivion, leaving blown out scenes on the coast and here on the farm. It’s the dog days of August.  Bright, vibrant color takes a vacation and my enthusiasm for photograpy begins to sag.  Then I remember the flower cooler, that cool oasis for color where all the flowers we can’t grow because of the intense heat are imported and stored to await the arrangers..

I’ve never cared for photographing arranged flowers.  I much prefer shooting bunches of them in buckets like these long stem roses above.

The light level in the flower cooler is, as you might guess, quite low and since I don’t like using flash, I had to dial up the ISO and close down the lens.  A tripod was mandatory.

After I fired off maybe a dozen or so shots, I decided to just have a seat in the flower cooler and chill out a bit but for the first time in several days, I was anxious to get home and process my work.  Nothing like a little color to wake up your eyes and your enthusiasm.  Thanks for visiting and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

Storms and Sunflowers

The weather gods have not been kind to photography the past two weeks.  Here in souteastern North Carolina,  we’ve had a constant run of storms and torrential rain.  And when the sun did manage to show itself now and then, one had to be mindful not to venture too far off from shelter because it was a good bet that more nasty weather was coming.  I did manage to grab a few Sunflower shots which worked wonders for my cabin fever.  Van Gogh’s seem to be the sunflower of choice in these parts. Probably because they appear to be just about impervious to heat and storms.

I use Spot Metering a lot when photographing Sunflowers.  I take my reading from the center of the target flower.  That was the case in the above shot.  The light pulls the target to the eye and darkens the background.  This is an invaluable technique when the sun is behind your subject thereby putting it into the shadows.

With the contanstly changing light, I was constantly changing my settings.  Back to center weighted metering for the above shot which was with a Nikon D700 and a 60 MM Micro lens. Micro is Nikon Speak for Macro.


As for white balance, my usual practice is to set the camera on Cloudy and leave it.  Since I shoot everything in RAW, I have the option to change the white balance in the RAW Image conversion panel but more often than not, I just leave it on Cloudy. Perhaps the weather will lose its bad attitude by next week.  Thanks for the look and have a good week, rain or shine. See you next time.

The P.G’s Return

A large, showy shrub, the PG Hydrangea was sent to the USA from Japan in 1961.   They thrive in Eastern North Carolina from mid summer through early fall, seemingly immune to the severe weather conditions that usually accompany summers here.  When it comes to hydrangeas, PG’s are the strongest of all.  The huge flower clusters open as pure white blooms from 18 inches long and nearly a foot wide.

The show continues throughout the summer.  In late summer, the cones turn a pretty pink and when Autumn arrives, the blooms morph into a beautiful shade of rust with gray-green leaves.  Easy to grow, PG’s like moist, rich, well drained soil and grow to an average height of six to eight feet. They prefer full sun to partial shade.  Great fun to photograph, they are one of the few blooms that last throughout the summer.  Thanks for the visit and have a great week ahead. See you next time.

“New” Nikon 70-200mm f/4 G VR Lens

It’s  used glass, but in all respects it could be called brand new.  Not a scratch on it.  I bought it from MPB in New York.  I’ve been dealing with them for some time and never been misled.   To each his own but to me, it just seems kinda crazy to spend 16 hundred dollars for a lens when I can pick one up in like new condition for half the price from a reputable dealer. Suffice to say there were no exploding cigars.  I clicked it on my Nikon D750 and screwed on a 67mm uv filter from my collection, and headed for the cut flower beds here on the farm where the pink cone flowers were just coming around.

All shots were hand held with VR (vibration reduction) on.  Camera settings: manual mode, custom white balance.  ISO 400, center weight metering, exposure time 1/500th of a second.  The lens,  which like all of Nikon’s high end glass, is built like a bank vault, was fully extended to 200 mm.


As the light began to break through the clouds, things began getting crowded on the cone flowers and I called it a day.   The 70-200 joins the 18-35 f/3.5-4.5,  24-120mm f/4, the 70-300 mm f4.5-5.6 and the 200-500mm f/5.6 in my camera bag.  The zoom collection is all done…..for now.   Thanks for the look.  See you next time.

Shooting Amaryllis

“Of all the flowering bulbs,” I read online, “the easiest to bring to bloom” is the Amaryllis.  So why in the world was  it so difficult for me to get a decent shot of one.  We’ve grown them seemingly forever here and I’ve always had difficulty coming up with a shot that really catches the eye to the point of perhaps enticing someone to buy one.  It sounds like a “no- brainer”!  An Amaryllis in full bloom is a sight to behold.  Gorgeous flowers, they  really bring a room or a garden to life.  But for some reason, I’ve never been satisfied with my photographs of them.   I’ve done close-ups and macros; I’ve gotten on my back and shot them from underneath; I’ve gotten behind them, over them, by the side of one.  I’ve shot them from every conceivable angle; in morning light, late afternoon light and once even at midday.  Desperate people do desperate things!  Then one of the “Arrangers” here said in passing to me,  “why not shoot a close mass of them, all  growing at different angles from one another but none facing directly into the camera. ”  This was my first attempt.

Of course, the leaf just left of center is a huge distraction but I was close.  I decided to move in tighter and search for a similar view without any leaves nosing into the frame.  I wound up moving around the entire bed but eventually I got what I thought would work.

Even the “Arrangers” who are very prickly about putting flowers “in their proper perspective” approved of this one.   “Worthy of your web site, John, ” said one, adding “perhaps  someone might be moved to buy a print of it.”   Perhaps! Thanks for the look and have a great week ahead. See you next time.