Monthly Archives: May 2006

Being in Clover

Friends with benefits. That is kind of the way I feel about a side effect of poking my macro lens at all kinds of things. The benefit is not that I get to make love to flowers—although sometimes I kind of do, I like to think of some of my flower compositions as a bee’s eye view. No, the benefit is that I get to see the world differently. In the universe of the tiny there is another whole universe of sights that most people never see.

This clover was growing along my garden fence. I clamped it with my McClamp, and then took a long, stopped down time exposure with my 200mm f/4 Nikon macro lens and 50mm of extension tubes. In order to reduce vibrations, I locked up the mirror, which is easy to do with my Nikon D200, and used a remote cable and controller to take the exposure.

Here’s another clover bouquet from the heart of the same clover flower:


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Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography

Poppy in the Morning

This is this first flower from this papaver, poetically (and aptly) named Dawn Chorus.

Dawn Chorus 1

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Usually I wake up early, to find one or more of the kids waiting for breakfast. Soon, the family circus is breaking all around me. I slink off, still in my pajamas, and wander into the garden looking for something to photograph.

What joy to find this poppy covered with dew waiting for me like a shy young woman. (Well, I guess I’m allowed a flight of fancy, or two!). The chaos indoors fades into the background of my serenity, and Phyllis brings me out a cup of coffee. Camera on tripod, pjs wet with the dew, I keep photographing.

All too soon, it is time to drive my boys to school.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Don’t Park under the Passionvine

Everyone who knows me—or who reads my blog—knows that I garden to photograph and photograph to garden. Oh, sure, I like making a mini-Eden for the family to enjoy, but for me the main point is to always have inspiring subject matter for my flower macros.

Recently, the city of Berkeley installed a traffic circle at our intersection. This circle is something the neighborhood has been working to get for many years in an attempt to slow traffic down a bit in a neighborhood rich with little kids.

In the infinite wisdom of the City Parents, as part of the installation the city chose to erect an eight-foot high no-parking sign, on the curb near my garden (and next to some of my plantings). The curb was already painted red, so this sign seems particularly unnecessary.

When you are given lemons, make lemonade. I figured the no-parking post would make a great pole for a flowering vine, hence this passionvine.

Of course, first I had to photograph one of its flowers in relatively controlled conditions.

And now I can say, “Don’t park under the passionvine with anyone else but me…”

Passionvine Flower
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Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography, Water Drops

Purple Gleam Poppy Popping

This is a California Poppy, Eschscholzia californica “Purple Gleam,” in my garden. I photographed the first bud on this poppy unfurling a little earlier:

Unfurling California Poppy

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The photo of the bud unfurling is really about the water drops, but gives a pretty good look at the poppy bud as well.

This spring I’ve spent a lot of time watching poppies bloom. I think I understand where the common name poppy for the papaver and eschscholzia genuses comes from: these flowers do indeed pop!

First the poppy forms a bud. Then it “pops” out of the bud:

poppy popping

Often, you can still see the shell of the poppy pod as a kind of casing. With some poppies, the (like the Purple Gleam shown here), the bud forms a kind of origami shape before it finally unfurls. Then the flower fully emerges. All this takes just a few hours.

The catalog describes the Purple Gleam as lavender, but mine seems to be more reddish (see the top photo). An unusual color for a California poppy.

The detail of the bud was taken with macro flash and tripod. Upper (top) photo with a handheld camera, extension tube, and VR zoom lens.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Columbines with my Nikon D200

Columbines are wonderful flowers, with delicate lines and strong shapes and colors. They are difficult to photograph. Facing the earth, on a long, thin stem, they sway with every breeze. Unless the columbine is upside down, you have to get beneath the flower (or at least down to its level). Next, you have to have a good strategy for dealing with the inherent motion of the subject.

I took these photos of columbines yesterday with my new Nikon D200. So far I’m really happy with this camera. Size does matter, and the D200 does captures that are significantly larger than my D70. But size also is not everything. I feel that qualitatively my D200 produces wonderful colors in its captures.

The flowers were swaying in the breeze, and I stopped the motion using a slightly boosted ISO (250 rather than the default 100) and my Nikon R1 macro flash kit.

Columbine 3

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Columbine 2

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Columbine 7

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Columbine 6

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Columbine 5

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Columbine 4

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Posted in Flowers, Photography