In Situ

As much as possible I take pictures of flowers in their natural circumstances.   Sometimes I’ll gently move aside an intruding plant (cleavers are everywhere) to get a clear shot of the subject.

First, I end up practicing photographer’s yoga a lot, perching and stretching into some very awkward positions in order to get close to the plant.  Sometimes I have to use a hand to steady myself when it should be steadying the macro lens.  It’s tricky (usually impossible) to set up a tripod.  If a plant is low enough or if there’s a convenient rock I can use a sandbag.

Then, there’s wind.  Early in the morning there’s little breeze, which makes taking extreme closeups a lot easier.  But then the ambient light is lower.  Except sometimes there’s a bright isolated shaft of light -usually illuminating only part of the subject.  And some flowers close overnight and don’t open until late in the morning…

Even at midday light is a challenge.  Most of these plants are growing and flowering under the forest canopy, in shade or deep shade or dappled shade.  Even if I bump up the ISO and/or use flash, the whole picture tends to be washed in green, which is lovely in its own way but not really good for showing details.

And then there’s the issue of contrast.  Early in the year, most of the plants show nicely against a backdrop of leaf litter.  By May, the background is green, green, and more green, with a confusion of shapes.  It’s so much easier when a plant is up against a rock.

I don’t collect specimens; whether or not it’s against the law, I think it immoral in most situations.  If a plant is there for me to enjoy, I want it to stay there for others to enjoy.  And for me to enjoy again next year.


a huge stand of clustered snakerootSanicula gregaria; Apiaceae (carrot family)

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