My love of Indian Pipe wildflowers is nearly boundless. Even if I don’t photograph every one I see (really, I don’t!), I usually stop and admire them (and yes, see if they will make for good photos). I’m lucky enough to have them scattered around the yard, kind of all over, but mostly in deep leaf litter. Nice, but hard to shoot sometimes. So when I saw this beauty, everything just ground to a stop –

A small flower, all alone in a bed of moss. I was immediately captivated and so began a mini-study of a species I’ve been photographing for over a decade. Here it is just a few days later after pollination –

I used a mix of lighting depending on what time of day I went out to shoot it. There’s an LED panel off to the left in the first shot to give it some depth and contour. Then I can work in post to emphasize that quality.

The second shot is natural light, but I created a little light path in post to help give some variation in a scene that was otherwise uniform in how much light there was throughout. Using an LED here would have been pretty much impossible because it was so bright.

Lots of stacking work, too! All those years ago when I started to seriously photograph these little beauties, I’ve never been able to get all of the plant crisply focused without having a really distracting background, too. With stacking I can leave the aperture wide enough to create a soft, out-of-focus background, but have everything rendered with great detail. Ah, technology.

And just a little while later it has dried and is well on its way to splitting open and scattering its seeds.

A little later and it’s even drier.

I planned to go back out to photograph it again after the pod split so the seeds could scatter, but it was gone. I suspect the leaf blower had something to do with it. But it was a fun little project while it lasted. I hope that more come up in this spot or in similarly nice beds of moss. One can dream.


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