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Tuesday, 21 June 2016


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They look like a kind of Daylilly about to bloom. Here in Virginia (further south of NY), they are about spent.

Like food photography, which on the face of it seems easy ( I'm looking at you, Instagram) - but is actually really really difficult (depending on the intent of course)

Garden of Edith-

Does this mean that you will reassess your position on cat pictures too?

Finally, some respect! -(;~)>

Not that I seem to have a choice. I see flowers, I take photos of them; just the way it is.

Our garden is as you describe, beautiful things coming and fading in endless parade. Where I live, that's almost year round, but esp. Feb through October.

". . . you can kind of guess that something might be about to happen." This is what's about to happen:

Although much more appealing at a larger size.

Or perhaps this:

Or some other extravagant color!

These are, BTW, simple snaps with an Olympus TG-4 P&S. It isn't that hard, with some practice and learning how your tools work for the subjects. (And shot RAW with a dash of post.)

Now, you need a maintenance gardener, so all that work that you are now enjoying doesn't fall apart.

I find in some of my work I become a sub-specialist. I discover this when viewing my work and recognize a portfolio in the making or a new direction I've taken. It always comes as a surprise and is unpredictable. For example, I like using a 4x5 camera for landscapes, but I've found myself exploring abstract scenes of ice and snow on river banks with the 4x5. Check out "Laughing Man" on my blog for an example. 35mm would have been my guess for this kind of work. I also found myself taking portraits and group portraits of trees in the snow, with 35mm! I would have guessed 4x5 for that one, but 35mm ended up working naturally for those ones. Then there are the jellyfish. These are so much about the quality of light for me and I think of them in black and white, but image stabilization in my digital camera made them possible. I hadn't brought a tripod to the aquarium, nor would I have had an easy time using it with the crowds and those pesky jellies keep moving constantly anyway. Usually, I shoot with what's available if I'm not on a photography specific trip, but in these instances I had a choice of what to use and I became surprised later by my choices. A wonderful thing photography is.

I've dabbled just enough in flower photography to agree with you. I don't think I've ever taken a flower photograph that I really like. Same with (posed) portraits. Candids, sure, I love candids. Maybe if I just hung around a flower garden with a camera, I could catch them doing something interesting, instead of trying to pose them.

Remember the "one camera one lens" challenge? Well, if you're a specialist, it's not a challenge. It's just another day at the office :-)

Write what you know, someone once said-- and that turns out to be very good advice for the fledgling writer. Same advice is pretty good for photographers starting out, too.

I'd offer the caveat that one has to be more than a little careful if one sticks to this regimen a lifetime. At at the risk of seeming (or actually being) pedantic, it's easy to get stuck in a groove of knowing a subject so thoroughly that you can no longer see it with fresh eyes.

Flower photos are the bane of my existence! Too often, I know there's a photo in there, but damned if I get them!

Mike, I'll never come here again if you start posting off-topic entries on gardening!

When we lived in Boston, my wife and I used to get a kick out of planting perennials and annuals in our little gardens. It took a fair amount of trial and error, gardening guides, seed catalogs, and guesswork to figure out how to cultivate an ever-changing garden. The garden went through several transitions throughout a single day and over the course of spring, summer, and fall. When we moved to Florida, we bought a house on a large lot. It took us four or five years to put together a lush tropical garden. It looked lovely, but it required constant attention. Then there was a February when the temperatures dipped below 30 degrees for five or six consecutive nights. That was the end of our tropical garden. After that, we planted indigenous perennials. We lost our enthusiasm for gardening. The ratio of mulch to flora gradually increased. By the time we sold the house, the garden wasn't particularly interesting. I've noticed the new owners are now heading down the tropical garden path. They're from Minnesota.

Be careful ... flowers are a photographer's heroin ... you start by just taking a few casual shots and without realizing it ... it becomes a summer long habit and daily craving. You will suffer withdrawals all winter and you will be hooked for life!

Of course now you're probably going to get inundated with flower shots.

Here's a page of 10 flower images from my website which coincidentally has two of my favorites: "Backlit Tulips" and "Monkshood and Bumblebee",  http://www.anthonyreczek.com/tag/flowers/page/6/

I usually use a 100mm macro, but didn't on these two. Other useful tips:  overcast skies make for a good backdrop, and shooting during or immediately after a rain or in mist usually proves interesting. A tripod helps and just recently I bought a portable camping stool for leaning in with greater comfort.

I think flower photography is really portrait photography. And you're absolutely right - things can come and go pretty quickly out there in flower land.

Sonny Carter has been doing "Friday flowers" for many years. Check 'em out here:

I went through a flower phase (and even had a complete exhibition on just flower close-ups/abstracts) about a decade ago. I still like and occasionally take the odd flower photo but seem to have got the obsession out of my system mostly. Living in a tropical paradise loaded with flowers and a good botanic garden doesn't help either!

All of the photos in the above mentioned exhibition were taken using the no-longer-produced Nikon 70-180 micro zoom lens which is highly prized on the used market and as rare as the proverbial... I really miss that lens sometimes.

My career in photography was products, portraiture and special events. Since retiring, I photograph what I enjoy looking for the most: the abstract in ordinary objects, and flowers fit this challenge well.

I think CFW nailed it with the Day Lillies ID. Watch them every day and you might get a surprise like this:

Lilium lancifolium, aka, Tiger Lily

I took this a few Easters ago and was happy, all except for the white dog hair. Put a sheet behind it on a cloudy day on the back deck. I'm more of a dabbler, definitely not a specialist, but it's fun to dabble.

Even backyard weeds can grab your attention if you look closely. I took this photo with a lens used for video inspection, which I modified for use on my m4/3 camera...


I was just wandering in my backyard looking for interesting things to try.

As many other photographers did (do) I started out dabbling in nature photography, which of course included flowers. I guess I landed few ok shots but when I saw some artsy flower photos in Lenswork magazine I realized I was just a rookie.

I am free as an amateur to photograph what I want but agree that if one really wants to be impressive in any given photographic category they need to specialize and work that subject matter hard. (BTW though I am more of an urban photographer now I still take the camera out of the bag when the Hibiscus flowers bloom)

And don't forget to get a bee or some other insect in your flower pix. Adds interest. Next thing you will be using a micro lens and start taking insect pictures. Please don't do that.

Flowers don't do anything but they do attract bees, er, flies!

Mimic bees pollinating basil flowers

I understand the idea that one needs to specialize if professional success is what you're after, but success in terms of being free to pursue varied interests and being happy in what you do might lead you to doing all sorts of stuff. Flowers are an example for me, shot with my phone because it's the only camera I have that focuses close and because I like the vignetting of the app I use.


Hi Mike-

It makes sense when you realize that flowers are the sexual organs of plants. I have been gardening at least as long as I have been making photographs and both endeavors are meaningful and necessary parts of my life. Your plants are lilies, by the way.

Michael Ellis

I believe in most cases the type of job you end up in is a direct reflection of your personality type. For me specializing would not work as I need to be doing something different all the time. I would assume I first chose photography as a profession because it satisfied many of my needs as a person. Then once a photographer, you gravitate to certain areas of the business based upon what is suitable for your personality.

As a business-person, I believe it is very important to go in a direction where you have a competitive advantage. I am very comfortable and good at working with people - events, portraits and general dealings with people are a big part of my business. The photography profession happens to be loaded with people who are not comfortable working with people - as clients or subjects.

I made a great trip to the Galapagos in 1999. While it was a great trip, I learned that I really prefer to photograph people.

In addition to the gravitation towards people as subjects, I also gravitate away from areas that require incredible patience and long work for single outcomes. I have no desire to work in photoshop on a single image for hours. I am not the type of person to seek out a particular spot and wait weeks the way a successful landscape photographer must.

In the end I think it's important to recognize who you are as a person and not necessarily try and be something else. It's usually much easier to be yourself.

Let us know when you've mastered hand-held closeups with a close-focussing manual-focus fast-ish nifty-fifty on a m4/3rds 2* crop. In the breeze...

I had a significant phase of that kind of thing - woodland more than flowers, but even so - after a couple of years away doing landscape vistas it's surprisingly difficult to get back into the swing of it.

They could be triffids.

The problem with pretty flowers is that it's easy to get carried away:


We've lost the variety of Victorian and medieval associations that flowers once had, just as we've lost the connotations of hard work and winter survival once implied by a meadow. We're left with unquestioned, conventional loveliness. Technically, a context-free close up of a flower tells you only what it looks like, which can be expressive, but for the most part, only over a limited range. Add the limited selection offered by most commercial garden and cut flower outlets, and the inevitable urge to recycle tripod holes among photographers of all types (Calla lily, anyone?), and you end up with a dull genre. A very dull genre.

I photograph weeds. The more despised and commonplace the better. It's an effective cure for sublimity.

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