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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Did it fly up there, or climb up the ladder?  Inquiring minds want to know….

In any case, I hope the gull was enjoying its bird’s-eye view of the sunset as much as I was.



This was taken with a 10 mm lens, and the camera about 1′ off the ground.  When shooting with a wide-angle lens, foreground is key.  Having something prominent and eye-catching in the foreground draws the viewer into the image.  This perfectly round, bright-orange pumpkin certainly does the trick.

“Tendril” is what the twisty part of a vine is officially called.  In most of the pumpkin fields I’ve seen, the tendrils have nothing to climb onto, so they simply wither up and turn brown, as this one did.  I think its wispy brunette ringlets look striking against the orange skin of the pumpkin.

I got curious about the pumpkin vine, and did some research online…did you know that you can grow smaller pumpkins vertically on a trellis made of sturdy wire, stout sticks, etc?  You could, I suppose, even grow an entire pumpkin arbor…how cool is that?

Speaking of cool, I was also checking out some time-lapse videos of tendrils attaching to objects.  I couldn’t find any pumpkin vine videos, but there were plenty about cucumbers, morning glories, peas, etc.

Speeded up, the tendrils look like miniature snakes being coaxed by an off-screen snake charmer.  They wave around until they find an object to grab onto, and then spiral around and around it until they have a good firm hold, like little green boa constrictors!

The way they do this (this is a grossly oversimplified version) is that once the tendril touches a solid object, one side of it grows faster than the other, which causes the spiraling and makes it look like the tendril is actually wrapping itself around an object instead of just growing around it.  I think that’s pretty darn cool too!

The lowly pumpkin vine CAN be a high-climber!

…why I gathered you all here today…”  said the green pumpkin to all his orange companions.

Continuing with our Autumn theme…I think it’s nice to show some pumpkins on the vine.  Most of the pumpkin patches in my region just scatter the pumpkins in a field, but this one left a few on the vine so that folks could see how they grow.

I like the yellowed edges of the leaves, and the way the color of the dried leaves is so similar to the color of the earth.  The pumpkins can’t help but take center stage in this composition, but I like the supporting cast as well….

It’s officially Autumn (as of two days ago) and that means pumpkins, at least here in the US.  Today  I paid my first visit of the season to a local pumpkin patch.  I like to go early in the season when there are a lot of pumpkins to pick from…not to buy, but to shoot.  I’m amazed at the variety of shapes and colors.  As I walk through the patch, I try to find the most perfect pumpkin.  That is, the one that has the most classic shape and deep, even orange color…I even take the size and shape of the stem into account!

Today we had some rain, but I wasn’t able to get out to the patch until it had already dried.  That was disappointing, as I love to shoot pumpkins when they’re wet and shiny.  So I had to settle for dry ones.

I was able to take advantage of a still-overcast sky that gave me nice, even light and no harsh shadows.  This image was shot two hours before sunset.

I must confess to using a splash of fill-flash.  I keep my flash dialed down to -2 stops about 99.9% of the time, which is how I had it set today.  I get fewer harsh shadows, and it brightens the colors without being overpowering.  If you can’t tell I used a flash, I consider that an appropriate use of it.

I like to give all of my lenses a workout when I visit the pumpkin patch.  This image was taken with my 180 mm.  In my next few posts, I’ll share some images taken with “regular” as well as wide-angle lenses.

This was the nicest pumpkin I found today.  But I have another five weeks before Halloween to find an even better one!

These particular roses were so heavy that their stems were bent, and the flowers were facing the earth.  And I was taken by the beauty of their bottoms, and struck by how the tips of the stems resemble stars.  This is a part of the rose that isn’t often admired, but I find it at least as beautiful as the top of the flower.  And the straight lines and sharp angles are a nice contrast to the soft, curved petals.  The next time you see a rose, take a few moments to admire the way it’s construced.  Intelligent design?

There are photographers who work only in black and white because they find color distracting.  While I’m not such a purist, I find that toning down bright colors sometimes emphasizes parts of the image that might otherwise be overlooked.

In this image, I particularly like the subtle parallel lines on each of the petals, and the little hairs on the stem.  If the flower was glowing yellow and the stem was glowing green, I think most viewers would take in the pretty colors and miss the other details.

Of course selective focus and shallow depth of field also guide the viewer to what’s important in the image.  This flower is obviously in a sea of flowers, yet it’s the only one I chose to make important.

The next time you’re shooting a lot of something (flowers, trees, animals, people) see what different techniques YOU can come up with to make just one of many be the focal point.

“Flowers really do intoxicate me.”

So said Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), a fellow author and poet.

I was searching “rose quotes” online, and none that I found inspired me or seemed to go with this image.  I broadened my search to “flower quotes” and up popped this gem by Vita (short for Victoria).

I wasn’t familiar with Vita, so I had to google her to find out who she was.  In addition to being an author and poet,  she was also an avid gardener.  She and her husband moved to Sissinghurst Castle (in Kent, England) in the 1930’s and spent the rest of their lives restoring the gardens there (which are open for tours).  Her love for flowers was a lifelong passion.

I’m tickled by her statement that  flowers are intoxicating.  To me, the rose above certainly has that quality.  Orange sherbert petals trimmed in  raspberry… their soft and sensuous folds sheltering dewdrops which have mostly dried from their tips…talk about eye candy!  This flower looks good enough to eat…or drink!  Hence, the next time I’m out shooting macro images in a garden, I could say I’m drunk on flowers.  But Vita said it so much more eloquently:

“Flowers really do intoxicate me.”

would be called something else!

Okay, so I’m taking a little liberty with The Bard’s words.  Call it “Blogger’s License.”

In any case, sometimes simple compositions are the best.  Would you agree?