wildflowers

Showy Orchis

While in The Great Smoky Mountains last month, we were on the lookout for various wildflowers in the area.  One of my favorites is The Showy Orchis.  According to the US Forrest Service website, the showy orchis only gets between 4-8 inches tall.  The showy orchis also has to maintain a relationship with a certain type of fungi in order to grow.  They also prefer moist soil, like somewhere near streams...The Great Smoky Mountains is a prime spot for them.

Here's an image a I made using my Sony A7R II, Metabones Lens Adapter and Tamron 90mm Macro Lens.  I shot this in Aperture Priority at F/4.  I wanted a very shallow depth of field so the background would fall off quickly.  Macro photography is much easier with a tripod.  I used my Sirui W-2204 and K-20 Ballhead for this image.

Here's all the EXIF info:  Aperture Priority, F/4, ISO 100, 1/50th second, 90mm, Exposure Compensation 0. 

Providence Church

This is a scene I photographed a few years back, too.  Then it didn't have all these cool little wildflowers by the sign, however.

I tried to do some research on this place, but couldn't find much on Google except its location on a map.  I saw a church by the same name in the area, so I assume this is their old place.  The new(er) one is much nicer and larger.

These are the kinds of places you find when you take that dirt road. ;)

This little gem is somewhere in between Chappell Hill, TX and Brenham, TX on N. Meyersville Road.  That's pretty much all I know about it.  I can only assume that some classic, southern gospel tunes were belted out of here back in it's day.

Not much to the photo technically.  It was one of those F/8 and be there kinda things.  I did shoot it ultra wide with my Tamron 15-30mm lens at a real low angle.  

If anyone happens to know any info on this place, I'd be happy to hear more about it.

Bluebonnets, bluebonnets, bluebonnets

You were warned yesterday that more of these were coming. ;)

This image was made in the same field as the image I posted yesterday.  This time I focused only on bluebonnets...and it seemed they went on as far as you could see.  It is very hard to see in this image, but in the background right along the horizon on the right side is a very large field of indian paintbrush flowers.  I actually drove over to check those out, but the land owner had placed private property signs up and roped off everything at the road.  So, I headed back over to this bluebonnet field.

Tech talk...I shot this at 15mm on my Sony A7R II using the Metabones adapter and Tamron Lens.  So, basically, I set the lens to 15mm and put it right at the edge of these bluebonnets at a very low perspective.  I wanted to get low for this shot.  Not too low, though.  If I had gotten much lower than this you couldn't see that the field is full of flowers.  It would have looked more like a dozen flowers than thousands.  Since the sky wasn't very interesting at all, I knew I didn't want to include much of it.  So, using my Sirui W-2204 Tripod, I positioned my camera just a bit above the tops of these bluebonnets and angled it down to exclude much of the sky.

I shot this in aperture priority mode at F/16.  I had to raise my ISO up to 800 because it was so windy.  In order to keep the bluebonnets sharp, without blur from the wind, I raised my ISO so I could get a faster shutter speed.  Between bumping my ISO and waiting on times between wind gusts, I was able to capture a few frames where there was no blur.

I'll try to give you a break from wildflowers next time.  ;)

 

Texas Wildflower Sunset

I spent last week in Texas.  While I was there, I wanted to make sure I tried my best to find a good field of the Texas state flower, the bluebonnet.  These flowers could be found most everywhere along the roadside, especially so the farther you drive away from a city, however for the area I was in finding a really large field full of flowers proved to be a challenge.  After doing a little research, I was able to locate one field that was the best of any I found in the short time I was out there.  

The only problem was it was not too far from the main highway, so when I got there, 40 of my closet friends were there already.  Many of them there to take children's portraits in the flowers, or family portraits in the flowers...one photographer had a couple pull their truck out in the field of flowers to pose with the truck for engagement photos.  So I spent a lot of time waiting on these people to move or working around them.

Now, I think a field of bluebonnets is a pretty awesome sight, but when making a photo I like to add something in the foreground as a bit of an anchor.  It doesn't have to be anything really special.  In this case I used the only handful of Indian Paintbrush Wildflowers that were in this field.  I thought the contrast of the red flowers helped to anchor the foreground a bit and also adds a bit of a leading line to the rest of the field of blue.

It was very windy during this particular sunset, so I had to bump my ISO up to get a high enough shutter speed to "freeze" the flowers, so I bumped it up to ISO 1600.  I shot this scene in aperture priority at F/16 in order to get the nice starburst.  That yielded me a shutter speed of 1/30th.  While that isn't a "fast" shutter speed, if I waited until the wind slowed a bit, it was fast enough. 

This image was made using my Sony A7R II, Metabones lens adapter and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  I also used my Sirui W-2204 Tripod and K-20 Ballhead.  I took this tripod because it is super stable and small enough to fold up in my carry on luggage.  It worked out great!

I also processed this image using Lightroom and On1 Effects.  

Warning:  More flower images coming soon.

 

 

 

Mirrorless Lensbaby

I recently acquired a Lensbaby Composer Pro for my Sony FE Mount mirrorless system.  I was pretty excited to get it on the camera and give it a whirl.

I've had the Canon EOS mount Lensbaby Composer that I've used for a while, but I was super stoked to get the FE mount Composer Pro, as I could use it without an adapter.  For new Lensbaby Composer users, I believe there is a bit of a learning curve.  That curve is cut down quite a bit on the Sony mirrorless systems due to something called Focus Peaking.  Focus Peaking basically highlights whatever is in focus on the screen in whatever color you select in the camera's menu system.  And it works!  And works good...really good!  It really helps us blind ones. ;)

Here's an image I made with some of our newly bloomed wildflowers, the Sony A7R and the Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Single Glass Optic.

ISO 100, 50mm, F/4.0 @ 1/640th second

I processed this image in Adobe Lightroom and finished things off in On1's Perfect Effects 9.  I used a couple of my favorite presets in the On1 suite.  First I applied a preset called "Vecchio".  It applies a warming effect on the photo.  Then I finished it off with the "Big Softy" vignette preset.  

If you are interested in Lensbaby Optics, feel free to click the banner on the right to visit their page.

Pink Lady Slippers

No, those aren't what I wear with my housecoat before bed.

They are wildflowers.  And dang fine ones, too!  Oh, and hard to find, too.  That was until we found this spot during our workshop in the Smokies.

We were walking down this trail where my teaching partner, David Akoubian, had remembered seeing some of these Pink Lady Slippers years ago.  Well, we ended up finding a small group and spent some time photographing them.  As we walked further down the trail we found an elderly couple taking a rest on a log and they told us that just down this other trial there were "bunches of them".  

We walked down the other trail to the point where we thought the guy was just nuts, then we started to see small groups of them, then more of them, then large groups of them.  It was us that was nuts it turns out!

The first image on the left was taken on the day we initially found the flowers.  The lighting was not good and we were trying to use everything we had as a diffuser and background.  I had to push the processing on that one a bit to get an image I liked.  

The image on the right was taken a few days later.  The light was great on this day!  We had rain that morning and it was still very overcast when we arrived.  So the light was better and we got the bonus raindrops, too.

Settings for the left image: ISO 1600, 90mm, F/16 @ 1/10th second

Settings for the right image: ISO 800, 90mm, F/4.0 @ 1/125th second

Both images were taken with my Sony A7R, Metabones Adapter and Tamron 90mm Macro Lens.  This setup was of course on a tripod...my Vanguard Abeo Plus 323CT.