Posts tagged “Lily of the Valley

The Best of 2010

This is a new thing for me, choosing my best photos of the year.  I’ve done it with books I’ve read and albums I’ve bought, but not things I made myself.  It can be hard to subjectively judge your own work, but I think it’s a worthy exercise for anyone who wants to get better at what they do.  I wrote a whole long post about my analysis and its criteria, but I’ve decided not to publish that.  It’s boring, and who cares really?

On with the winners, in the order I shot them with some reasons why I chose them.

Piscataquog in the Morning - January

Even if I had planned this shot and spent a lot of time framing and composing, it couldn’t have been done better. As it was it was a grab-shot that took me only seconds to take. The Piscataquog is a very picturesque river and so it’s hard to get a bad image of it, but I like this one particularly because of the strong S curve of snow framing the dark river that leads your eye right through the frame. The white is almost blinding in spots, but the surrounding trees and sky keep your eyes in the shot. Someone commented that she expected to see a group of barbarians on horseback come bursting through and I love that new perspective.


Stepping Softly - January

The picture tells a story and the lighting and composition are in harmony. I was with a couple of friends this day and they were yakking it up to my right. I was looking back into the scene we’d just spent an hour in. Some of my best shots come from a last look back and that’s when I saw this. Because we were all cold and ready for coffee, I couldn’t take a lot of time over this and shot only a few frames. Luckily I had been working in this light and setting for a while and could capture it perfectly. I love the softness of the light and the snowed-over footprints and how they lead you into those mysterious trees. The shadows pick out the texture of the snow and add interest to the foreground. It’s hushed and peaceful and reminds me of every beautiful winter morning.



Whirlpool - March

That whirlpool is awesome and I planned this shot pretty meticulously before I actually took it. Having been through this area before I noticed the whirlpools here and there, I knew I wanted to get a photo of one, but had to wait for better lighting. When that day came I scouted locations until I found this one and then got all excited when I saw that Charlie Brown tree in the foreground. It makes for the perfect element to keep your eyes up on the waterfall and the vortex.  It also gives the scene some scale and it’s just plain fun.  All around pretty damn great if I do say so myself.  It also is a major indication that I was really trying to be a more deliberate photographer – one of my resolutions of 2010.



Hope - April

This photo came out looking very poignant and somehow introspective, as if this oinker knows he’ll end up in a sandwich. It was kind of a grab-shot that spoke volumes after I got it home.  It is startling not only for the subject, but for the mood.  I didn’t intend to make this a serious picture since pigs are not serious subjects – they’re boisterous and curious and don’t stay still for long at this age. I think it’s a testament to my skills as a photographer that I could bring out such a change of emotion in the final shot. A few years ago, I probably wouldn’t have been able to.



Stagefright - April

The title really sums up how this shot of the emerging flower feels. As if it’s shy and reticent about showing itself. I love the light and the slight shadows within the leaves. Just look at those leaves – so graceful and elegant. The fresh color and the focus is pretty damn good, too. I had the camera on my front steps cushioned by a bag of barley. So high tech.  This is part of my Lily of the Valley project which I undertook to help hone my macro photography skills and it certainly did.  For the most part I use a legacy Olympus lens – the 90mm f2 macro and I really needed practice with it and this project helped with that, too.  Oh and gave me some excellent images, too.



Allium crispum - May

The framing, the bg and the color of the flower work remarkably well. I remember hunting around for the best composition while my poor husband stood aside patiently waiting for me to photograph yet another flower. The depth-of-field is also right where it needs to be. I didn’t check it, but relied on my experience and knowledge of the lens to give me what I wanted. Not only is the image good in camera, but my post processing skill was coming along pretty well and I could do it justice and make it sing.



Haunting the Obscure - August

This shot is a testament to my skill as a photographer if that doesn’t sound too big-headed. I’m amazed I got it. About a dozen non-photographers were milling around exploring this tiny family burial ground and so when I noticed how a break in the canopy lit up Hannah’s stone, I had only a few seconds in which to compose, set exposure and shoot. Just after I did some people got into the frame and then the light changed and Hannah was no longer spotlit. When I got this image in Lightroom it was almost perfect out of the camera, but I thought a desaturated look with a slight vignette would really bring out the spooky, which it does. I’m very proud of this shot.  Even if it is one of my beloved cemetery images, I think it has enough appeal to stand outside of that realm.



Daybreak - October

This is pretty fab all around. I was with some of my best photographer friends for the first time in months and we always have a great time together.  The early morning light is so warm and soft on the background, but the post shades the rest of the gate and provides a contrasting color temperature. Not to mention those great little shadows the vine throws across the post. I also like the way the grass in the immediate foreground is lit up and the kiss of sun on the gate itself.  At first I thought the gate was too prominent, but now I realize it isn’t.



Warrior of Life - October

It’s a powerful subject the Merrimack river and I worked for some time on the granite shelf of a bank trying to frame this right – particularly that stripe of rough water that leads your eye to the trees. I must have looked funny shuffling around and peering down into my LCD screen over and over again. Longish shutter speed, but not too much that the trees are totally blurry (there was a light wind) and light that is direct, but not too flat or harsh. Finally, it came together.  This part of the river is beautiful and easily accessed, but somehow I’d never explored it until this year.  It won’t be the last visit.



A Shaman's Whisper - October

This one makes me smile. The sunny yellow color and the way the focus falls off gently speak of peace to me. I was on my back deck when I noticed the sun in this birch and went for the camera. I spent several minutes playing in the leaves, framing and shooting. This composition works the best and I love the overall color palette. Sometimes spontaneity produces the best shots.



Post Peak – October

Technically this photo rocks. The color and the clarity is terrific and I remember hunting around on the bank looking for just the right foreground elements to frame the shot. I think the composition works well and just look how those birch trunks pop.  Even though the color is technically past peak (those bare trees were probably red only a week before) I like the deep golden hues; so rich and harmonious.

I also love this shot because I was able to take it.  A few months ago I said I’d have to go on forced hiatus.  I was emotionally strung out and couldn’t go into detail because it was cancer.  Yeah, the Big C.  After months of frustrating doctor visits I had surgery in late August and thought for sure my autumn would be ruined either from recovery or because I’d need chemo or radiation therapy.  That thought made a depressing situation even worse.  In the end I needed neither and I was actively shooting 4 weeks after my operation.  The day I shot this image I’d just come from my first post-op appointment with my oncologist.  She said everything looked fine and I was healing perfectly and it took such a weight off my shoulders that I felt I could fly.  I’m almost crying writing this and remembering how wonderful I felt at this location on this most perfect day.



November palette

This is technically pretty great and I love the horizon line with the fog shrouded trees and those red berry bushes that really define the edge. Crisp foreground and hazy background contrast well and add to the mood of the image itself.  it really says November to me.  Plus I was with my mom having a great time together. We walked all the way up to the point where the little jog in the walkway is when I said we had to go back so I could shoot it. She ended up taking a shot too.

So that’s it then.  The best I could do this year.  I hope you enjoyed viewing them as much as I did making them.  Here’s to 2011!

Lily of the Valley – Part 10

I am back.

I am not 100%, but I’ve been out photographing here and there.  Not just for this project, but walking in the woods and stuff.  Hopefully this weekend is reasonably nice and I can see about finding fall color.

But fall color isn’t just about leaves.  Picking up from the last installment in this project, the berries ripened really fast, going from a greeny-tinged orange to a deep orange in a couple days.  Then seemingly overnight they were red.

Summer's End (OM 90mm f2 macro)

Taste the Flower (OM 90mm f2 macro)

Now due to a combination of wind, rain and the advancing decomposition of the plants themselves, things have come to this –

The Departed (ZD 12-60mm f2.8-4)

I really like the shades of brown and gray in this as well as the leaf shapes.  Only a little manipulated by me, mostly as found.

It’s supposed to rain all day today so I might have some interesting shots to take when it stops.  Saturated, soaked, puddled and really bedraggled leaves is what I’m hoping for.

Lily of the Valley – Part 9


The berries that I’ve been watching turned orange before I have to go on hiatus.  I spent the last few early mornings photographing them and some of the leaves.  Am pretty satisfied with how things came out, but I’m irritated that a certain shot just won’t come crisp.  Given the lens I’m using and my previous results with it, I can’t understand why it’s not coming up sharp.  Bah.

Anyway, here’s what I do have –

Made in the Shade (OM 90mm f2 macro)

Ripening (OM 90mm f2 macro)

The light in the morning really brings out the warmth of the colors.  Yesterday the left over rain made that second image a tad more interesting.

Here is a look at how the leaves and the plants as a whole are looking.  Bedraggled about sums it up, but I like the color variations in the leaves themselves and think isolating parts of them still works.  Those weird spots on the upper middle leaf are spiders.  Will have to go out to investigate more.

Loner (OM 90mm f2 macro)

Convergence (OM 90mm f2 macro)

I really like that last one for some reason.  I think it’s the texture of the leaves.

Oh and look who stopped by to check out what I was doing.

The Veteran (OM 90mm f2 macro)

Even down to 6 legs it was still able to evade another daddy long legs that came by.

Anyway, I hope I can continue with this project, soon.  Although the plants aren’t getting any prettier I am committed to documenting them all the way to full die back.  It’s been a fun project and thanks for keeping up with it.

Lily of the Valley – Part 8

After some weeks of relative sameness, the plants are beginning a new phase – the die back.

August 4 - ZD 12-60mm

I love the contrast between the still verdant leaves and the dying leaves.   The textures are still terrific.

August 5 - OM 90mm f2

And of course I couldn’t resist a monochrome conversion.  The shapes and light variation in the early morning is perfect for this kind of interpretation.  A square crop adds to the classical feel I think.

August 5 - OM 90mm f2

I also noticed that the berries from the last session are still hanging in there, although they haven’t changed in color enough to warrant new photos yet.  Keeping my eyes peeled though.

August 5 - OM 90mm f2

Overall I’m pleased with my messy little patch of flowers and the project so far.  As the die back continues I’ll be out there again.  There’s one more shot on the SmugMug Gallery if you’re so inclined.

Lily of the Valley – Part 7

Yep, it’s been a while.  Sick of this yet?  I am and I’m not.  The plants are at a point of non-interestingness.  At least that’s what I thought.  You see I had no idea they actually make fruit.  I knew they propagated themselves by the rhizome system, but didn’t think too much about this.  Turns out that colonies consisting of a single clone don’t set fruit which contain seeds as pretty much all fruit does.  Eventually these little green berries turn an orangey-red.  I really hope they hang on to do so; a few have already disappeared.  Anyway, here are the images –

Cute, but I don't think they're edible. (OM 90mm only)

This berry has since disappeared. (ZD 12-60mm SWD zoom)

Stems without berries far outnumber the ones with and those are withered and dry now.

Bygones (eek, I can't remember which lens this is)

So that’s how things are in the Lily of the Valley patch.  I’ll be watching for ripening berries & withering leaves.

Lily of the Valley – Part 6

Before I dive into my California vacation pictures and before NH History part 2, I’m getting up to speed with this project.  I’m really glad I shot on the day before I left because the flowers were at their most verdant and lush.  The raindrops really helped convey that sense of freshness I was going for and so these next ones will be even more dramatically different.

May 25 (OM 90mm alone)

The blossoms are hanging on, but not by much and they fall like leaves in the slightest breeze.

May 26 - For Miss Havisham (OM 90mm alone)

This one kept spinning on its tether –

By a Spider's Thread (OM 90mm alone)

It looks like I placed this fallen blossom in this position, but I didn’t, I found it this way.

May 26th - Last Cup of Sorrow (OM 90mm alone)

That’s it for now.  There are more shots in the gallery including one of For Miss Havisham in black and white.  There are three monochrome shots now and I really like them.  Check them out HERE.

Lily of the Valley – Part 5

As I’m leaving for California for a week starting tomorrow, I thought I’d update this study today.  Also because it rained this morning and I love including raindrops in flower photos if I can.  Plus it’s relatively still today which is good because the slightest breeze sets these leaves off.  They’re like sails, they catch the tiniest movement of air which is terrific in another way – the scent is like heaven.  Hard to believe such a powerful aroma comes from such tiny flowers.

The light in this first on is really odd, but I like it.  You know how the sky gets a bit yellow after rain towards the end of the day?  That’s what it was doing.

Quenched - May 3rd (OM 35mm f2 for a change)

Ride on Tears - May 14 (OM 90mm macro alone)

Paint the Seconds - May 14 (OM 90mm alone)

Joyeuse - May 14 (OM 90mm alone)

For this last one I couldn’t resist using the same name as Charlemagne’s sword.  It just fits.  It’s one of my favorite images in this study so far, too.

Lily of the Valley – Part 4

They’re really coming into a beautiful phase right now.  The leaves are almost fully unfurled and are still delicate and pale in color.  VERY photogenic.  When I shot this last session I was struck by how like a stage it all seemed and thus the titles.

Stagefright (OM 90mm alone)

Understudy (OM 90mm alone)

That one just cried out for black and white.  I use Lightroom for all my post processing and managed the sliders very carefully for this one.  I didn’t want it too harsh, but had to have enough drama to make it compelling.  The shallow depth of field lends itself to the softness, but the shapes themselves hold the drama.  I like.

For this next one I wanted to show how that once the bud is released from it’s papery wrapper it turns downwards in preparation for blooming.

In the Wings (OM 90mm alone)

Overall I like how this series is going and how much I’ve learned about a plant I’ve spent so much time with, but hardly knew.  I will probably head out again today since they’ve changed some more.

Lily of the Valley – Part 3

Eeek!  I’ve been taking photos, but not posting about them.  Things are progressing out there.  Leaves are unfurling and tiny buds are showing now.  I’ll probably get out there again today, especially if it rains.  Raindrops on the leaves will be really pretty if it happens.

April 8 - Lily of the Valley - OM 90mm f2 macro

April 15 - Lily of the Valley - OM 90mm f2 macro

I really like this next shot.  The sun  had just gone behind the house, but it was still bright enough to light up the leaves.

April 21 - Lily of the Valley - OM 90mm f2 macro

And here are the buds…future blossoms waiting for their time in the sun.

April 21 - Lily of the Valley - OM 90mm f2 macro, 25mm ext. tube, T10 ring flash