Again I found photographic inspiration just outside my door, this time in the back yard. Is there anything more happy and summery than a sunflower?
Earlier this summer, we hung a bird feeder on the back patio very close (apparently TOO close) to the zucchini/crookneck squash garden bed and the birds ended up planting all sorts of things in the bed that I didn’t necessarily want to grow there. I’ve been pulling out little millet plants and who-knows-what-else all summer. The sunflower plant somehow managed to survive the weeding and once I realized what it was, I left it alone as I’m quite pleased to have this sunflower interloper around. No doubt I’ll be spending many more moments in the coming days photographing every little nuance of its sunny little face.
On Saturday I went outside looking for photographic inspiration, and I didn’t have to look any further than this Purple Coneflower, aka Echinacea purpurea, in the planting bed out in front of my house. I love the simple elegance and rich color of these flowers. I recently discovered a “coconut lime” variety of Echinacea purpurea and am determined to find those for my planting bed for next year.
The wallpaper for June is a photo I took just the other day of a day lily in my best friend’s backyard in Spring, Texas.
(I incorrectly identified said day lily as a hibiscus in another post, which has since been deleted. Silly me).
If you’re not sure how to set a photo as your desktop background, follow the instructions HERE.
If you need a different size for your background, email me at 39DegN@gmail.com and let me know what size you need.
This is the time of year when the bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) take over Texas for a short while. Since I (oddly enough) don’t have any photos of Texas bluebonnets, allow me introduce to you a close relative, Lupinus nootkatensis, aka the Nootka lupine. I made the acquaintance of the Nootka lupine in Iceland in the summer of 2006.
This very abundant flower is actually not a native of Iceland. It was introduced in 1945 to lowland areas in the southwest as a means to add nutrients to the soil and to function as an anchor for organic matter in an effort to combat erosion. It’s an invasive species and, as often happens with introduced species, it is rather controversial.
Nevertheless, the Nootka lupine has made itself quite at home in Iceland.
Now that I have spring fever, there’s no going back.
This time of year, Arizona’s deserts spring to life. It’s amazing how lush and verdant the deserts become – even the spiny cacti burst forth with gorgeous blooms. These photos were taken in April of last year in the desert northwest of Phoenix.
Check out the Goldenrod Spider in the photo above. I didn’t even notice the spider when I started taking photos of this flower. When the bee landed, the spider started moving toward it, but then retreated a bit, as though it thought better of going after the much-bigger insect.
The folks over at one of my favorite photography-related websites, the Digital Photography School (DPS), conduct assignments and challenges on a regular basis. The topic of this weekend’s photography challenge is the color BLUE. That seems easy enough so I think it might be fun to participate. I’ll post my results in Monday’s blog entry. Does anyone else want to play? The rules for the challenge are quite simple: 1) Your photos have to be NEW, not something dug out of your archives; and 2) the photo should feature the color blue in a predominant sort of way. That’s about it. If you’re in, take a bunch of blue pics starting now and email 2 or 3 of your favorites to me at 39DegN@gmail.com by Sunday evening (Mountain Standard Time) and put the word BLUE in the subject line. Be sure to include your name so I can give you credit and a title if you wish. There have been a lot of entries already on the DPS site, so scroll down and look at the comment section HERE if you need inspiration.
And by the way, you don’t need a fancy schmancy camera to take part in this. It’s just for fun (and to help train your eye to see specific things), so there’s no critique involved, no winners, no prizes. Just pictures of blue stuff.
Meanwhile, here’s something blue that I did dig out of my archives so it totally doesn’t count:
5. Use the tripod
Using a tripod is one of the primary keys to really decent landscape photography. It’s said to be what sets the pros apart from the wannabes. Pre-eminent Colorado photographer John Fielder, in his book “Photographing the Landscape: The Art of Seeing”, writes, “You can make good photographs while hand-holding the camera, but you won’t achieve excellence.” Since I am striving for excellence, I bought a REALLY nice tripod set last year (legs and head are purchased separately when you get into the “REALLY nice” level of tripod procurement) with every intention of using it a LOT. It’s so much more convenient to do the hand-held shooting thing, though, so I haven’t used the tripod NEARLY as much as I should have. I’ll even lug the darned thing all the way up a mountain in my pack, but in the pack it generally stays. However, in 2010, I hereby resolve to make liberal use of that tripod and take that step toward excellence.
6. Don’t give up on the macro
I tend to take quite a few close-up shots of things, primarily of the abundance of wildflowers that we have here in Colorado. In order to facilitate my close-up endeavors, I bought a macro lens last year (the AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED for anyone who’s interested in the details). After terrorizing all of the flowers and bugs in my back yard for a couple of days, I quickly discovered that macro photography is HARD. You have to focus manually and hold real still (unless you’re using a tripod, which is probably a good idea but kind of hard to do when you’re shooting something that moves like a bug) and the depth of field is much shallower than that of non-macro lenses so it’s hard to focus on JUST the right spot. I took only a scant handful of photos with that lens last year that I really liked. I got frustrated. I set it aside. (At least I didn’t throw it… that’s progress). I need to pick it back up and keep working on my macro skills. It really takes a lot of practice.