Plants and Flowers is a product of the Coronavirus lockdown when, like many of my photographer colleagues, I was pretty limited in what I could shoot. My backyard with its flower beds, path through the woods, and pond opened up some possibilities. I hadn't been interested in photographic flowers and in macro work since my early days in photography but things have come round back to the beginning. Certainly with better equipment and, hopefully, with more skill this time around.
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When the sun gets higher in the sky the bromeliads know to bloom. This one is in a southern exposure in my kitchen and right now (March) is in full bloom along with one of its buddy bromeliads. This is a focus stacked image as necessitated by the long thin nature of the bloom and in order to get the bloom and the leaves sharply into the frame on a macro lens.
Beggar Tickseed (Bidens aristosa) is a native species which is just gorgeous in the fall. There is a golden brilliant yellow along roadways and in meadows. I had never seen it further north so it must like mild winters. It is called tick seed because the seeds will grab on and take a ride with you.
Indian Blanket is a native plant. It is at the end of its season in early September. There is a bud or two, and a bedraggled bloom here and there but most have gone to seed. It is a tough plant. When I was a kid we had some growing at my house in soil where nothing else would grow.
There is an older version of these blooms further on in this gallery. This one is from this year, 2023. It is manually focus stacked at f22, which works pretty well. The plant grows in clumps and this one is from a big clump not far from Jordan Lake. It is called "sensitive" because when the leaves are disturbed, they close up as they are here.
This is not a plant I am familiar with in the part of the country I am from. It is abundant in NC growing in large bunches along the roadside. It has pea-like pods, hence perhaps the name. The plant is about 2 feet high and the blooms 1 1/4 inches across.
This is a large bush like "weed" that grows in woods all over the east coast. I grows to about the height of a man or larger. I picked these branches to photograph because there was an inch worm dining on one of the flowers on the bottom spike. Turns out there is one on the top spike, too. Can you find it? The berries turn dark blue when ripe.
I am familiar with the symmetry of clematis flowers when they bloom but never really paid any attention to them when the go to seed--that is until now. The symmetry is still there and the seeds are like feathers barely attached to what's left of the bloom. I think it is an interesting image. It is focus stacked manually at f22, which I think works out pretty well.
This flower is called Maryland Meadow Beauty but it was shot right here in NC where it is a native wildflower. It was growing at the pond behind my house where they can't mow quite as short. A sad note: they used to mow not at all and we had a profusion of meadow flowers. Now they are limited to the strip near the pond where it's hard for the mower to reach. Such progress!
Ironweed is one of the native plants I have introduced into my garden. The flower clusters are bright purple in the summer and this is what happens after the flowers are gone. The bees and all the garden critters love this plant. This image is a focus stacked macro.
Google tells me this is Pennsylvania Sedge. I am not sure on my own. In fact, I didn't even know that I had it in my front yard. The blooms come up on sturdy stems directly out of the ground and are not among the leaves. It is a little beauty.
Spring has come very early this year--it is barely mid-February and already the ornamental cherries are in full bloom. Nice but a real worry for climate change. This is not focus stacked; in fact, I seldom do that any more. It is shot a f/27 which with this lens gives about the best sharpness in combination with depth of field. Higher f-stops up to f/45 do get diffraction error and lower f-stops lose the depth of field.
I have been trying to make the plantings around my house more eco friendly, which they definitely are not at the moment. I planted so milkweed for the stressed Monarch Butterflies and also because milkweed has lovely, fragrant flower clusters. I had just one year's growth on the milkweed and got four Monarch caterpillars. They pretty much ate some of the plants to the ground. Sadly, I am not sure if any of the caterpillars made it to butterflies because I could not find even one chrysalis but I hope so.
This bush, which I believe is a spirea variant, blooms early before the leaves are out. It is subtle, and I love it subtlety. This is not a focus stacked image, obviously. I prefer this way of making an image so that the flower is in focus and the surrounds drift into a soft bokeh.
Not all the colorful critters in the garden/pond are butterflies and dragonflies. Some are grasshoppers, like this one and the following. The images were taken with approximately a 200mm telephoto stabilized on a monopod. Obviously, that meant high ISO and high shutter speed at about a f-stop of 11.
This image is my attempt at a visual haiku. It was a misty day with droplets on the flowers and branches. It is a simple composition in monochrome with no distracting elements. The flower is a holdover from summer on a bush that is bare of leaves and has very few of its abundant summer flowers holding on into the winter.
Kudzu is a terrible, invasive vine that has gone wild in the US since being imported from Asia. Nonetheless, there is a more attractive side to a bad actor. I had never seen its blooms. Sadly, I have a lot in some woods behind my house, but the blooms are beautiful. Here is one. Please notice the beetle in the upper left hand corner. There are several other bugs as well.
Blue Eyed Grass is my favorite wildflower. The blooms are less than 1/2 inch across and they last a day. I first encountered it in my prairie garden in the Midwest. It grew in the wooded area on my property in Maryland and I brought some with me when I moved to the Mid-South. I didn't need to. It grows natively here, even where they mow every week or so. It is tough as well as beautiful. Focus stacked.
This asparagus fern has been in my family since my grandmother's days. It was usually strictly a house plant and struggled along often looking dried out. When it finally passed on to me, I started putting it outside only to find that it loved it, thrived, and bloomed every year. It also made red berry seeds in the fall. This is the blooms. The entire individual flower is somewhere between 1/16th and 1/8th inch in size although the clusters are bigger. This is a macro but not a focus stacked image. I didn't like the focus stacked ones nearly as well since I thought everything should fade into the background rather than being artificially crisp.
I put up this second image of an asparagus fern blooming because I finally got a better image of the blooms. This is hard to do since they are buried among leaves and stems and are tiny, tiny little flowers. This is a macro, not focus stacked, but I finally got three blossoms pretty much in focus together with a bud or two. A few days work in all of this.
This little guy grows everywhere I have ever been and I have spent a lot of time pulling it up out of my garden and lawn. Decided to take a look and the flowers, though small, are quite beautiful. Don't think I will view it the same way again.
This little meadow flower was growing in a sometimes mowed area in the back of my property near a pond. It is very slightly pink running to lavender but the stamens and pistil are bright yellow. This image focuses on the flower and one bud. Like all wild flowers it gets chewed on and protects itself with spines.
This flower is tiny. The blooms are roughly 1/4 inch across. It grows on a tall spike out of a rosette of leaves close to the ground. It is a beauty in miniature. It may also be Texas Toadflax but it is surely in that family. Focus stacked. Sadly a few days ago someone sprayed where this was growing and all the plants were killed. Silliness and destructiveness.
I am not sure what this tough little guy is. These very fibrous blooming stalks grow about 3 feet high and on the top are clusters that bloom and then turn to seed clusters. The flowers are very attractive but very small--about 1/4 to 1/3 inch across. This is a focus stacked version. See the next image for a macro but not focus stacked version of the flowers.