Our azaleas have been through the wringer this year. The mild winter, down here a lot of people called it “the phony winter,” brought out the blooms several times in January and again in February only to have cold temperatures kill them off. Now, it seems spring has finally taken hold, albeit a week early. March is busting out all over. These big red formosas seemed to be partying in the sunshine with the still blooming camellias providing some nice bokeh backup. Floral shots are not on everyone’s hit parade. Landscapes usually win, but I was so glad to see these, I decided to give them their “15 minutes of fame.” Enjoy and have a great week.
From Wilmington to Raleigh and beyond, Azaleas are at or near their prime across North Carolina right now. Driving across the state, one gets the impression that every homestead has some sort of azalea blooming somewhere on their property. Driving down east, I passed an old abandoned tenant house on its last legs and there in the front yard, pink azalea blooms were peeking through the weeds.
About the shot. The azalea mavens tell me these scarlet red blooms are on an old variety called “Pride of Mobile” that dates from the late 60’s. “It exudes southern charm”, they said and who am I to argue. As I have said before, the main problem with this time of the year in North Carolina, aside from the seemingly constant rain, is the wind. It never stops particularly here on the coast. As soon as I arrived, I dialed in Shutter Priority on my trusty Nikon D7100. Of course the camera is already obsolete – Nikon, as usual, is already out with the D7200 which is a tad faster with a few other bells and whistles but with only just over 18 thousand snaps on the D7100’s shutter which is rated at 150,000, its hard to justify trading up.
As for the shot, I made four versions all with varying light. This one with soft, warm light, seemed to fit the azalea maven’s “Southern Charm” description. Here are the particulars: 170 mm, shutter speed:1/250, enough to stall the wind, f/5.6 gave me the background blur I was looking for. ISO at 400, Auto White Balance. The 7100 excels at Auto White Balance I think. Matrix metering. The camera rates at 24 mp so this shot yielded a nice large print for the azalea mavens who were very pleased.
The warmer weather has me juiced up for a day trip to the coast before the tourists clog up the beach road. Either the Outer Banks or more likely, the Bogue Banks, Emerald Isle etc, which is a bit closer. I must have 10 thousand beach and coast shots but what can you do. It’s an itch that has to be scratched. Watch this space! Thanks for the look and have a great weekend.
I spent the better part of a day in a section of the farm I call Dogwood Dell. About a dozen wild Dogwoods thrive there under towering Lob Lolly Pines feeding on the acid earth which is also home to ancient Azaleas and Camellias. The late afternoon sun finds its way into the Dell and I’ve found that late afternoon is the best time for shooting. This view was taken into the sun using a Nikon D800E camera with a 24-120 mm f/4 lens which pretty much lives on the camera. I think it a good marriage. I usually take several shots of scenes like this running through different ranges of ISO. On this one, I settled on an ISO of 400. I found the soft light on the fragile blooms and the warmer light in the bokeh rather pleasing. I put this shot on my Fine Art America site (click on John Harding Art Prints in the upper right) and immediately got several dozen hits and one sale of a rather large print so it was a day well spent. Have a great Sunday everybody and thanks for the look.
I think this little patch of Daffys decided to make a grand appearance now because they sort of knew they would be the star of the show, everything else being so drab, dead and crummy looking. Even the Camellias seem to have tossed in the towel and wait until next year. Who knew Daffys were so vain they probably think this blog post is about them. Of course it is. I’m glad to see them. They’ve pulled me out of the black hole of winter and given me faith that spring is waiting to make a grand entrance. So here’s to the Daffy’s! Cheers!
Keep the faith everybody. Better Times are coming.
These flowers have many names but I’m told the official name is Hibiscus Coccineus or as it is more popularly called Scarlet Mallow. I’ve always heard them called Texas Stars or Mexican Hibiscus. Thanks to the farm name brains for setting me straight as they are prone to do. Who says this isn’t an educational site. Thanks for the visit and have a great week ahead everybody.
We’re in the midst of Sunflower Season right now. We’ve grown just about every variety over the years but the Van Gogh Variety has given us the best yield. I caught these two “sisters” in the field this morning. Runner up is probably “Ring of Fire”, followed by “Pro Cut Orange”, “Lemon Queen”, “Moulin Rouge” which is a deep red sunflower, “The Joker”, “Maya” and “Pro Cut Bicolor” which is yellow with a tinge of deep red. All will attract birds, bees and butterflies. Put them in full sun with medium water. And get your camera out. Have a great evening and thanks for the visit.