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Archive for May, 2012

IN THE FIELD: Hey, What The Heck Is He Doing?

May 7, 2012 32 comments

It was a bright clear morning the other day, and I was out photographing the wildflowers our neighbor planted near the road. Not much was blooming at the time, except for some daises and what appeared to be Sweet William plants.

With my camera mounted on the tripod and cable release in hand, I went about shooting the first bloomers. The light was perfect since it was early and the sun was still low. I didn’t feel the need to use a reflector or flash to fill in shadows or even a diffuser to cut back the light. Because it was bright enough to use shutter speeds just fast enough to stop the movement of the flowers in the light breeze, and still use wide apertures, I was able to obtain a shallow depth of field.

I was sitting in the grass composing this shot when I heard a car coming down the street. We don’t have a lot of traffic here, so when an unfamiliar car slows down then stops nearby, it’s noticed. I didn’t recognize the vehicle or the folks inside. They just sat there for about ten seconds, no smiles or waves, and drove off. I suppose they had never seen a person sitting on the ground with a camera and tripod surrounded by two-foot tall daises.

I will be frequenting this spot not only for the convenience it affords, but for the variety of plants growing there. I wonder if any other cars will stop to look and see “what the heck is that guy doing?”

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IN THE FIELD: Weeds and Wildflowers

May 4, 2012 29 comments

Growing flowers and plants where I live can be a challenge. The soil is filled with pebbles, stones, rocks and boulders. Thousands of years ago, glaciers left all the good stuff in the valleys below and deposited all the rocks here on top of the ridge.

Our neighbor across the street has been trying for several years to get control of what grows on the embankment between the road and woods on his property. Grass doesn’t last as it is either eroded away or becomes overgrown with weeds.

Last year our neighbor got fed up and rented an oversized rototiller to tackle the persistent weed growth on his hillside. I’m surprised he has any control left of his arms the way the tiller was bouncing all over the place.

A few days later, the truck from the soil company paid him a visit and dropped off a huge load of fresh topsoil. Mr. Neighbor then went to work spreading the soil. He figured the planting of three or four five-pound bags of wildflower seeds would crowd out any weeds attempting to grow there.

All that work paid off. This year there are very few weeds except for some clover and a few others that somehow made it through the onslaught of the rototiller. The hillside has filled in nicely and already, daises are starting to bloom. There are quite a few other plants that haven’t sent up flower stems or buds yet, but it should be a colorful hillside this summer. The best part is we get to see most of it from our front windows. And when I need some photos of wildflowers, I only have to walk a few hundred feet to get to them.

I took this hand held photo on the way back from our morning walk with the dogs. I have no idea what it is, but I will post a photo of it when it opens. Any ideas?

IN THE FIELD: In My Element

May 2, 2012 28 comments

You may recall me mentioning I can’t stay away from garden centers. I’m like a kid in a candy store…happy as a clam in mud at high tide…like a dog with two bones. Well, you get the picture. Earlier this week I was shopping at the local farm market. The place was overflowing with vegetable plants, annual flowers, perennials and flower baskets of all sorts of sizes and color combinations.

After finishing my shopping, I simply had to get the camera out and capture all that color. Because it was a bit crowded with plant material and customers, I opted to use my monopod rather than the tripod. Monopods are extremely handy in situations like this because they are lightweight, portable and it is much easier to stay out of the way. It was a sunny morning and I probably could have handheld most of the shots. But I find using some kind of support forces me to to really look at the composition rather than just taking snapshots. Especially when there is so much subject matter to choose from.

I am fortunate to have established quite a neighborly relationship with the folks at this local market. They have been very accommodating, allowing me free reign on their property whenever I want, and have used some of my photos in their online promotional pieces. So, it is a win-win scenario for everyone.

Around the middle of my shoot, a little boy wandered into the space and was in awe of all the variety and color laid out before him. I know I had the same facial expression during the whole shoot as well. Just like I do every time I visit a place like this. Yup, kid in a candy store.