Since moving to Wisconsin I’ve encountered many new-to-me wildflowers. In NH I traveled about 45 minutes to photograph round-lobed hepatica and these days my yard is full of them. Now I travel not quite as far to find pointed-lobed hepatica which is not found in my yard, but boy was the section of Ice Age Trail blanketed in them!
The first difference I noticed was that pointed-lobed (PL) come in more colors than does round-lobed (RL) and the instances of those colors seem to be common and white less so. Nearly the opposite of RL.
Taking pictures of these beauties was a little difficult because they were so thick on the ground along with other wildflowers. It was really hard to take a step without crushing something. Impossible in spots even though I walked slowly, carefully and kept my eyes open. By taking my time this way, I noticed that the texture of the flower petals seems smoother and waxier with the PL variety.
Another thing I noticed was that many of the flowers have double petals – the percentage is much higher in PL than in RL. I don’t know if it’s a random genetic mutation or a strategic adaptation tied to pollination, but it was noticeable.
Also the plants themselves are larger – on average 50%. The blossoms are more numerous as well as being taller.
All-in-all it was fascinating to find them in such profusion and that they were so distinct from their round-lobed cousins.
I have a feeling I’ll be visiting more of the areas that have these beauties come next spring!
When I lived in NH I could spend a lot of time out in my yard photographing all kinds of small things. I had barely 1/4 of an acre or something and it was pretty anemic being basically a giant sand pile. But for a person like me who can see beauty in just about anything, it was adequate. Now I live in Wisconsin I have a bigger yard plus many vacant lots nearby and so the camera fodder is exponentially expanded. I could get lost out there for hours at a time and the other day I did just that when the hepatica first started blooming.
In NH I had to drive about 45 minutes to reach a location with these flowers and did so because of their delicate beauty. Now I just have to walk outside. Funny.
Their presentation is a bit different than where I used to shoot them. The leaf litter here is really, really deep because we only have deciduous trees in our yard (the conifers were harvested over a decade ago by the original land owner). This means very few of the plants have a lot of leaves and most of them are buried. So it was a challenge to find them at first, but boy, they are everywhere.
I went out when the sun was still low and I love the different aspects it produces, like this backlit group that I converted to black and white. It really picks up the fuzzy stems which I love. With a bit of cloud cover, the light softened a bit and for this really big group next to my driveway, it was a perfect way to emphasize their soft beauty. They’re kind of an ethereal flower; nothing at all aggressive or bold about them.
They open with the sun and on cloudy days most remain closed, which I have photographed before and had great results, but on this day it was sun, sun, sun.
Yes, they really are that color. Intense, slightly bluish purple; the deepest shade I’ve ever seen. From what I’ve observed, the purple ones are closer to the water than the white ones. I have no idea if that is random or not, but it seems to be consistent. I went across the street (away from the water) and there were no purples, only white.
I did my best to isolate some of the blossoms against the backdrop of last year’s leaves. I just love how it makes them really pop. Not all of them are purple or white, we have this lovely group of pink ones just next to the lawn. I only spotted one other plant with pink flowers. Puzzling.
All were shot with the legacy Olympus 90mm macro at f8 or wider.
They’re still blooming and so there will be more shots coming, but the bloodroot is also coming into season and so are the trout lily, of which we have thousands in the yard. Behind them, trillium in equal numbers. It’s going to be a busy spring!
It’s me. The phantom photographer.
Funny how working full-time makes it hard to get out and shoot. I can’t just stop and go out when the light is nice. I can’t cancel meetings because it’s suddenly overcast and I could go to a waterfall. Even if I do have intentions of going out before or after working hours, I’m sometimes too tired to actually go.
I did yesterday though. I was at Pawtuckaway investigating the hepatica and other flowers and I shot some, but my batteries were so unused that they just died on me one by one. So drained they wouldn’t even register or power on the camera. But I knew I’d have to go back. The flowers last year were wicked pale, but this year are full to bursting with color.
Aren’t they gorgeous?
Hopefully I have a few more in the memory card. It was very trying because my camera, despite factory service, has begun to flake on me. EXIF data says this was shot at f7.1. Uh. I don’t think so. The camera isn’t stopping the lens where I set it and I know this was shot wide open. It also wasn’t metering or firing properly. I have no idea what’s going on. I need to get a hold of Olympus again, but I’m betting my old E-30 is toast. Which bums me out like crazy. I like the dumb thing.
Phew. A second trip got me what I wanted. Hepatica in bloom. The wind though was relentless and the light harsh, so my photographic options were somewhat limited, but I got a couple that I’m happy with. This first one is the same group of flowers in the trail that I shot on my first attempt. So lucky they weren’t crushed by an inattentive hiker. I had to wait until they were in the shade of a tree so that the detail wouldn’t be blown in the petals. The light is kind of strange; usually people put the shadow in the background, but I like the contrast.
This second one is bit unusual for a hepatica shot. I find that most people shoot them at the angle of the one in the background where the petal separation isn’t as obvious. But this little duo was in a perfect location, light-wise and I love those leaves so I had to include one. Standing on the hill, waiting for the wind to die down for a second so I could shoot was pretty peaceful. So much so that an enterprising and friendly garter snake came by to say hello. It wasn’t even aware of me in a way that threatened it and never stopped in its snakey glide on by in search of lunch. I love it when that happens. It feels so harmonious. Like I’m meant to be there and am not an intruder at all.
In the event that I get crap out of the camera tomorrow, here’s what I shot today. All three were shot with my old Olympus 90mm.
It’s round-lobed hepatica, a very early riser in the spring wildflower pantheon. And one I’ve never shot before. The name refers to the leaves which are quite distinctive and so I couldn’t keep them out of my compositions –
Hopefully tomorrow is sunny enough so that they bloom. Even with them in a nodding position, they are lovely to behold. Like spring beauties (a similar flower) they are very small and stay nearly buried in leaf-litter most of the time. The leaves as you can, see, turn a lovely red color and overwinter like that. I loved the idea of using one as a background and when I saw the arrangement above I went through my usual contortions to capture it. So hard not to squash other flowers. Here’s a shot of one that is showing a lavender variation (no color correction needed, btw!) and its old leaf in front. I love the color combinations of these shots. Not what is normally seen with wildflowers.
Each plant bears a single flower and so when I found big groups of them I took note of the location for tomorrow. I hope I can get them flowering and in dappled sunlight. That would just be so great. So, here’s hoping!