Random Sights and Diversions

Photography Media Reviews Commentary

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Tulips

(All: Nikon 7100 with Nikon 105 mm Macro lens. ISO 200. 1/60 sec at f/36. Ring flash. Click any image for larger.)

Tulips have become a ubiquitous and glorious sign of spring. There are now over 3,000 varieties cultivated. Tulips grow wild across Asia, but the cultivation on tulips is relatively recent in history. The first cultivated tulips originated in Persia around the 11th Century, and then in what is now Turkey. (The name “tulip” came from the flower’s resemblance to a turban.) One of the greatest works of Persian literature, the poem “Gulistan” from the 13th Century, describes a garden paradise,

The murmur of a cool stream
bird song, ripe fruit in plenty
bright multicoloured tulips and fragrant roses

Tulips came to Europe around the 16th Century. Today the center of the tulip world is the Netherlands where billions of tulips are grown every year. In the late 17th Century, tulips became so prized – and expensive – in Europe that they became the subject of a trading mania. Tulip bulbs actually became a form of currency. The period is known as the “Tulip Mania.”

For me, the greatest attraction of tulips is the incredible range of exotic color combinations and flowers. In these closeup photographs, the petals often look (to me) a bit like wings, courtly and elegant yet at the same time carefree. If spring itself is not enough to lift one’s spirits, the wild abandon with which the tulip flower welcomes in spring year after year is sure to do the job.

 

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Ranunculus

Ranunculus. Nikon D7100. 105 mm (Nikon 105 mm Macro). ISO 200. 1/60 sec at f/4.2. Copyright Joanne Mason  2015.

Ranunculus. Nikon D7100. 105 mm (Nikon 105 mm Macro). ISO 200. 1/60 sec at f/4.2. Copyright Joanne Mason 2015.

Another Ranunculus. The soft focus impact of the delicate almost-floating pink petals – How many shades in this single image! – is inspiring.

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Paper I

Untitled (Paper I). Nikon D7100. ISO 200. 105 MM Macro. 1/13 sex at f/4.0. Copyright Joanne Mason 2015.

Untitled (Paper I). Nikon D7100. ISO 200. 105 MM Macro. 1/13 sec at f/4.0. Copyright Joanne Mason 2015.

Starting a new series… There is an amazingly large number (Google > 1 million) of internet sources for photographs of textures and shapes of light and shadow created from white paper. I’m not interested in joining what appears to be somewhat of a cliche, but I do want to explore the explore the creative possibilities in a sheet of paper, light, and a digital camera.

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Yellow Iris – 2

Yellow Iris. Nikon D200. 105 mm Nikkkor f/2.8 Macro. ISO 400. 1/25 sec at f/25.0. Digitally Altered. Copyright Joanne Mason 2015.

Yellow Iris. Nikon D200. 105 mm Nikkor f/2.8 Macro. ISO 400. 1/25 sec at f/25.0. Digitally Altered. Copyright Joanne Mason 2015.

I have posted numerous irises here before, including a yellow iris. (See here.) This image has been newly processed including some digital alteration.

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Rhododendron 2

Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro.  ISO 560. 1/60 sec at f/22. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 560. 1/60 sec at f/22. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

Today’s Rhododendron. The results of a gorgeous spring afternoon in the park. I think, after months of black-and-white, we’ll do some more of this color botanical work. Stay tuned, more to come.

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Rhododendrons 1

Rhododendron

Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikon 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. 1/10 sec at f/13. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.

One of the loveliest and most majestic of spring flowers, the rhododendrons are now at their peak here in Connecticut. There are over 1000 varieties of rhododendron, found growing natively around the world. The rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal, the state flower of Kashmir, and the state flower of West Virginia.

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What I’m Reading… Robert Llewellyn, Seeing Flowers

Seeing Flowers: Discover the Hidden Life of Flowers, Photography, by Robert Llewellyn, Written by Teri Dunn Chace.

Robert Llewellyn Seeing FlowersRobert Llewellyn’s macro photography of flowers for this book is simply astonishing. I have never seen anything quite like it. Seeing Flowers features over three hundred extraordinary photographs of flowers, organized by family, from the Amaryllis family through the Viola family. Each chapter – family – includes text by Teri Dunn Chace discussing botanical and horticultural details – And though in depth and thorough, the scientific discussion is never dry but readable and fascinating.

Click Here → A portfolio of Llewellyn’s images from Seeing Flowers.

For me, though, the images are the heart of the book. Although the book does not include technical information for the photographs, Llewellyn’s website is very informative (http://www.robertllewellyn.com),  Llewellyn produces these macro images using “image stacking” – shooting many images at different points of focus of then stitching into a single image. Llewellyn developed his techniques himself – He shoots as many as 100 images for a single photograph, each image focusing on planes separated by perhaps only a centimeter. Llewellyn’s camera is attached to a computer-controlled motor-driven mount on a vertical axis above his subject.

Until I found Seeing Flowers, I was not aware of Robert Llewellyn, but his website provides lots of wonderful photography and information worth spending a good deal of time. Besides including lots of his macro and other photography, Llewellyn’s website is one of the best designed photography sites I have seen recently. Llewellyn has published his work extensively – Books are listed on his website as well as Amazon’s Llewellyn page. Another recent book featuring Llewellyn’s photography using the same macro technique is Seeing Trees: Discover the Extraordinary Secrets of Everyday Trees.

Robert Llewellyn’s website: http://www.robertllewellyn.com

Seeing Flowers at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Flowers-Discover-Hidden-Life/dp/160469422X

Seeing Trees at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Trees-Discover-Extraordinary-Everyday/dp/1604692197/

More about focus stacking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focus_stacking and http://www.dpreview.com/articles/5717972844/focus-stacking-in-macro-photography

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Spring Bloom

Spring Bloom. Nikon D200. 105 mm Micro Nikkor. ISO 800. 1/4000 sec at f/4.8. April 2013. Copyright Joanne Mason 2013.

Spring Bloom. Nikon D200. 105 mm Micro Nikkor. ISO 800. 1/4000 sec at f/4.8. April 2013. Copyright Joanne Mason 2013.

A bud on a flowering tree, just beginning to open. (Click for larger.)

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