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.

Springtime Blues

The hydrangeas are staging their annual color show.  They run through their color parade quickly;  from a pale to brilliant yellow then to a soft blue ripening to a deep blue.

The color of hydrangeas is determined by the soil.  The more acidic the soil is, the more blue they will become.  This particular hydrangea bed lives under a tribe of tall Lob Lolly Pines which makes for acid soil.

I use spot metering for most of my flower shots, taking the light reading from the flower itself.  It puts the bloom in the spotlight darkening the background.

It takes several days, depending on the light, for the blooms to go all blue and another day or so to reach their prime color which is of couse Deep Blue.  Nikon D700 Camera with a 70-200mm f/4 lens set at 200mm. Thanks for the visit and have a good week ahead.  See you next time. .

A Rush to Bloom

It seemed far too quick. Everything just decided to bloom at once.  It was as though the stage manager for the big spring show just packed up and walked off the job.  Perhaps all the spring bloomers went into a panic after three hard freezes in almost as many days iced the camellia blooms. Whatever, the daffodils, wild dogwoods, pink and red azaleas all decided to come on stage at once, quickly followed it seems, by the white azaleas, rhododendrons and pink dogwoods. Now everything has peaked, the blooms are dropping, and the temperatures are zooming up to near summer territory. The humidity will soon ramp up and before we know it, the high heat of summer will be back.

I know, everything has its time.   Its just that this time around, all the plants got the same wake up call. It was so quick I missed the crab apple blooms. I didn’t even realize it until one of my flickr buddies in Raleigh posted some on his site.  I ran over to the crab apple here on the farm and there were all the blooms on the ground.  I was too late.

But not too late to grab the Rhododendrons which are even now nearing their pink.

I got lucky with the pink dogwoods. They were all in full bloom when I got out to take a look.  It isn’t often that I’ve seen the pinks blooming at the same time as the wild white dogwoods but in this topsy-turvey spring, there they were.

Experience has taught me that photographs of flowers and blooms are a dime a dozen,  and I dare say most people are more turned on to landscapes.  The visitors to my flickr site confirm that. I just love color and something in me demands I give the blooms and flowers their due. I just wish they would space out the big show a bit and stay on stage a little longer. .

An aside about flickr.  The week brought news that the photo sharing site is under new ownership: Smug Mug!  I never thought Yahoo knew exactly what to do with flickr.  They weren’t photo people. Smug Mug is. Perhaps better times are coming.  Thanks for the read and have a good week ahead.  See you next time.

Shooting with the Nikon 60 mm Micro

The Nikon 60 mm f/2.8 G Micro lens (“Micro” is Nikon-speak for “Macro”) has usually gotten a bad rap when compared with its big brother, the Nikon 105 mm.  By far the biggest gripe: the 60 requires the photographer to get close to the subject.  If you’re shooting insects, that is surely a disadvantage. Who needs a bee sting on the nose!  Another rub is the lack of vibration reduction.  You need a steady hand or, of course, a tripod. Even with those negatives,  I’ve never had a problem.  Mine usually lives on my trusty D700 Camera.

The 60 mm has been around a long time.  I’ve had mine for about a decade.  It’s built like a tank, the auto focus is snappy and it delivers marvelous bokeh .  The best news is the price.  It’s among Nikon’s cheapest lens.  Nikon has recently announced a replacement but there are oodles of these on the used market and you can pick one up for a song; about a third of what you’d pay for a 105.  Course if you shoot stinging insects, you’ll have to allow for pain and suffering. Thanks for the moment and have a good week.  See you next time. .

Surprise Spring

Is it real?  Nature seems to think the time is right.  A handful of 80 degree days has sent Eastern North Carolina into a frenzy of blooms.  From daffodils to Japanese Quince to Bradford Pear Blooms, the annual infusion of color is underway.

I used a 20 year old Nikon 70-210mm f/4-5.6 D lens on all of these shots.  The “D” lenses have no vibration reduction built into them but the auto focus is as fast as any lens Nikon makes today and obviously, it is very sharp.   BTW, The “D” means the lens communicates distance information to the camera in matrix metering mode. More proof you do not need to spend buckets of money to pick up a good lens. Happy Shooting.  See you next time.

Return of the Sasanqua

They were early.  Again!  That’s been the case for the past two or three years.  Time was when we didn’t see them here until late October. Now they show up in late September.   Another indicator, perhaps,  that this part of the planet is  still warming.  They’re pretty ragged little blooms and their time is short.  An opening act for the Camellias that come on the scene in November,  or is that now late October?  I forget. It’s the Sasanqua that have my attention.  I see them as a sort of signpost that Autumn is around the corner.  And sure enough, after the first bloom premiered last week in 80 degree heat, our first real cold front moved through dropping the temperature into the 50’s overnight and daytime highs in the upper 60’s. And shooing Hurricane Maria off into the Atlantic.  So all hail the Sasanqua, opening act of Autumn.

I was AWOL last week.  Chest pains during the night. The wife packed me off to the ER.  EKG’s, X Rays, blood tests galore.  The diagnosis. No Heart Attack.  Arthritis!  in the rib cage at the breast bone.  Who knew one could have arthritis in the chest?   So a false alarm and I was shuttled back into the world of the well.  Thanks for the look.  See you next time.