Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Frothy purple blooms and lazy photography.

The first bergamot blooms are out!

I love this stuff.  Frothy, purple blooms.  Blue-tinted, minty foliage.  Lovely smell.  Hearty plant.  What's not to love?

And the pollinators couldn't agree more.  Here is one of the many Bombus impatiens foraging on bergamot yesterday.

The black-eyed Susans are also starting to bloom in greater numbers.  They aren't quite as densely packed as last season, but there's still plenty of time for this hearty native plant to get up to speed. 

The plains coreopsis is back and blooming too.  This plant, with its lacy foliage, considerable height, and extremely variable flower color was a real star last season.  This year it has come back in lesser numbers and is mostly clinging to the outskirts of the plots.  It could be that competition with hardier plants was simply too much for plains coreopsis, or maybe this plant is best used as a pioneer species to provide bloom coverage in an establishment year.  Either way, it's looking like this plant might not make it into the final recommended wildflower seed mix.

Wild sunflower, on the other hand, was barely present last season and is currently popping up everywhere!  There are even a few buds showing up.  Can't wait to see more from this native sunflower variety!

Finally, the prairie coneflower is really impressing me this season.  We only had a handful of these blooms last year, and they never gained enough height to breach the canopy of all the other wildflowers and be accessible to pollinators.  This year, they are performing very well and are easily reaching heights of 3-4 ft where there is a lot of competition with other plants.

I also think that the way that the cones puts out their tiny individual flowers in rows starting from the bottom and working their way up is both ingenious and adorable.  I expect that as soon as the tip of the cone puts out its last minuscule blossom, the big yellow petals will fall off of the bottom because the plant no longer needs to attract pollinators to fertilize it.  Nature is so efficient!

Below are some examples of bad photography habits on my part.  I am very guilty of plopping my camera into the lowest f-stop I can manage (thus, pretty high aperture), which limits my depth of field--giving me images where the focus is only on the foreground, and the background is all fuzzy.  What this means is that I can easily end up with washed-out, overexposed images--and I'm not exactly challenging myself to compose the picture well or produce any kind of variation in my work.  Lazy photography on my part.

Below you'll see examples of me limiting my depth of field so much that I don't even get the entire flower in focus AND they are both overexposed.  Tsk tsk.  Neither image is particularly usable, and this style gets repetitive quickly.

A challenge to myself for the next week:  take photos that utilize the full range of apertures available to me through my current equipment!

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