Tag Archives: flower

Macrophotography in a Nutshell: Tiny Fly on Tiny Flower

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Just chillin’ with my new carpet. You guys like?

(Click this link to see the original image at 4217 x 2811)

Another San Francisco capture, so don’t ask me to identify. I only do flowers of the American Southwest, and even that, not terribly gracefully. To me, tiny bug on tiny flower is the most macro of all macrophotography images. I know some people like to take extreme closeups of currency or body parts, but the things I want to see in minute details are tiny bugs and tiny flowers, so pictures like these are synergy.

Anyway, if you zoom in on this one you can see the cool little sticky bits that look like white fluff around the edges quite clearly. I don’t know if it’s moisture in the air that stuck to the flower or something the plant secretes for some reason, but it’s interesting to see.

Per the new schedule, I’m not even attempting to draw a comic until Friday, so I can consider the possibility of writing a few words. It would be nice to work on my T-shirt shop, too.

Oh! I got another paying photography gig. I guess I can call myself a professional photographer, since this will be the 3rd time that’s happened even though I’ve never even told people that I take pictures for money. They just sort of offer it to me. It’s somewhat nerve wracking: formal portraits for a wedding. Like, if you screw those up, you’re not just screwing up a photoshoot. You’re screwing up someone’s memories. The Vampire Bat does a ton of wedding photography, and it seems crazy-making to me. In this case, I’m fairly certain that neither of the brides will bride-zilla on me or make unreasonable demands or be nitpick-y about the work, but I’m sure that people who make a living at this must deal with that all the time. I can barely deal with writing clients, and I know that I know what I’m doing for them.

Maybe I should take a photography class? Then, one day, I’ll remember which aperture and which shutter speed goes with which environment, and how to set these things on my camera. Until then, it’s great that modern technology can handle a lot of those decisions for you.

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The Humble Dandelion

Everything's in the details.

Everything’s in the details.

One of the limitations of macrophotography, I’ve found, is that the gradations of depth are so fine that keeping your entire subject in focus is almost impossible unless your subject is 2 dimensional. I have about 10 shots of this dandelion. In some of them the, anthers are in perfect focus and the stigma can barely be seen. In others, the stigma are insanely sharp, but the rest of the flower is just a yellow blur. This image is sort of in between; you can see all the parts, but everything could be sharper.

My sister-in-law gave me a book on macrophotography and I’d like to read it; maybe there are solutions to my problem (short of photoshopping 2 images together) but man am I busy all the time. Although being sick for 10 days has, necessarily, cut into my productivity. Now this blog post is 14 hours late and I have to go get the kids in 24 minutes even though I’m not dressed and only halfway through breakfast.

Back to this flower. I love dandelions and I think people who kill them so they can have boring expanses of useless grass are wrong and in need of education about what’s important in the world. So-called “weeds” are the best part of having a lawn. We don’t have many dandelions here (this photo is from San Francisco), but we have other amazing volunteer flowers on our quarter acre: apricot mallow, wild daisy fleabane, evening primrose (you have to catch it at just the right time or you’d never even know it was a flower).

On this same roll I also had a decent shot of an ant (pretty well in focus but the ant is in a shadow, so it’s imperfect) and an excellent picture of a water strider, very sharp and clear but just not as colorful as this. The macrophotography books suggests that, while flowers and insects are the most popular themes for macrophotography, there are other interesting things you can do with it. Personally, I find that if you can shoot a clear image of a bug on a flower, there’s nothing more interesting.

What is this thing?

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I have achieved sufficient wisdom in life that I knew better than to touch this thing.

We wanted to see some friends out in Silicon Valley before we headed back to the desert, so The Man used one of those apps that allows you to rent someone’s car for a day, which didn’t cost much more than the train would have for 2 of us, and allowed us some extra freedom. He got this zippy little Fiat, which was insane, because who drives a manual transmission in San Francisco? I was a little worried that we would roll backwards down Lombard Street and die in a blaze of fire before we got out of the city, but it worked out quite well.

Before we met our friends, we stopped at Gray Whale Cove and hiked down to the beach. It’s not too many stairs, compared to someplace like Wreck Beach in Vancouver, but it’s a decent number. Great view, though, even on a foggy day. We didn’t see any whales, unfortunately.

Down at the bottom, growing out of the cliff wall, I found these weird flowers. Some of them were more normal flowers, with yellow petals, but there were a bunch of these with bizarre little spikes and no petals, all exuding this strange, milky sap. So unusual.

We also saw a bunch of ducks surfing, and I took some fun macros of tiny dead sand crabs. There’s a very old bunker, from WWII, I guess, which people were climbing because obviously the stairs and the hills aren’t enough climbing. The Man thought he saw Wilson the volleyball rolling in the surf but I think it was actually something that broke off a buoy.

Wednesday we go home, which is where I need to be. Depending on how late we get in, there could be a Dragon Comic, or there could be more macrophotography. I don’t know why I even bother bringing the Wacom tablet when I visit my family. It never gets used.

The Luscious Saguaro Flower

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Any feedback from professional photographers on how I could have captured this image even more clearly would be greatly appreciated.

This macro showcases the 24-hour saguaro flower. The flower usually appear in June, but what with all this wacky weather here on planet Earth, they’ve blossomed 2 months early. Saguaros, for the initiated, are those iconic Sonoran cacti, tall and long-armed, like a green army marching over the hills. They are only native to this small region of the planet, although they can thrive in other deserts. The buds are about 6 inches long, and appear on the end of mature arms, and on the very top of the cactus, in clusters of up to a few dozen.

Bats with long tongues pollinate these flowers, which have a delicate but delicious aroma. You can see how deep the flower goes here. Each flower blooms for a single day, but only some of the cluster bloom on any given day. When the flower shrivels, a red fruit remains, but I’ve never tried one. They are generally difficult to obtain, often 20 feet overhead, and the birds usually get at them first.

I’m sort of pleased with this image, which was the best out of a dozen, but it could still be better. Maybe if I’d had the tripod with me. I can never figure out how to line up macro shots of thing that have various levels of depth, particularly is the center is the bit that’s farther away from the camera. I’d like to go back to this particular cactus (it has a very low-hanging arm with a huge cluster and it’s very close to the road) and try to get a sharper image, but I’m not sure that I’ll have the time.

Gardens in the Rain

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This image has been cropped and color corrected.

I went out to photograph some tiny tomatoes in the rain, but I didn’t realize that the reason all my macrophotography has been looking weird lately is that there is a filter on the lens and the filter was filthy. That accounts for the soft focus-looking bit on the right side of the image. Still, cropped, it looks nice, I think. This is the peach tree in my back yard. It’s been back there for year but never managed to do much growing, because it is apparently tasty to caterpillars. So I’ve been super-vigilant about caterpillar murder (I use a bacteria that actually murders the caterpillar for me; I’m not much of a killer) and now here we have the testimony: tiny peaches bursting forth from the dying flower.

Now, apparently, I have to start killing ants before they eat the baby peaches?

I would have liked to have drawn a comic tonight, but I think my allergies have achieve sentience and are building a more enlightened society in my sinus cavity. I tried to appease them with some soup from the hip ramen shop downtown, but I suspect I may have consumed some MSG, because now my temples are as seized up as the rest of my face.

Perfectly Pink Flower Mandala

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It’s a mutant plumeria, or something.

It’s been a rough month in Dragon’s Cave. The deadly beast insomnia (second only to gravity in the “keeping-Dragon-down” pantheon) keeps rearing its ugly head, which can be kind of debilitating. On the plus side, I have beaten my own personal record for most consecutive hours of consciousness. The previous record was 36, in which time I took 2 cars, 2 planes, and 4 trains from Chicago to Prague. This weekend, all I did was travel to and from the town of Bisbee, attend a late night stand up comedy show at an underground club, and fail, repeatedly, to fall asleep.

Picture me, hour 39, in the front row of a club hazy with the green-tinged atmosphere of a Dutch coffee shop, looking up, as if from the bottom of the ocean, at this big black comedian who’s explaining to the organizers of a local Pride Parade that Chik-Fil-A is so good that he doesn’t care if the organization is homophobic, that he would eat Chik-Fil-A if they were openly racist and made him sit in a black-only segregated area of the restaurant, while the civil rights lawyer on my right side is actively booing him. What am I doing here? I ask myself. Is this really happening? Also, if I stand up to go to the bathroom, how likely is it that I will fall over and injure myself? How am I going to get out of this club, anyway? Will I have to walk? Am I actually already asleep and having a weird meta dream about insomnia? And so on.

Round about hour 41, my brain finally relented and I got 9 hours of unconsciousness (not uninterrupted, as The Man got up and made a smoothie halfway through). I bet I could have slept another 2 hours at least, but also there are the kids, and when you’re a kid, “being quiet” and “banging the door of the front-loading washer 17 times in a row” are somehow not mutually exclusive activities. But you can’t make up lost sleep, can you? Like, I should have slept 16 hours, right? Not an option. So, I’m not wholly recovered. I may never be.

Here’s a pinky-pinky flower mandala with an unusual symmetry based on the number 7, drawn in less stressful and more well-rested times.

Simplicity of Emotion

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I don’t know how many times it’s magnified. But a lot.

This picture seems to encapsulate my emotional state: grains of pollen on a red tulip leaf. There aren’t adequate words, but the image works. It’s not retouched or Photoshopped at all.

The tulip, needless to say, is dead now. It was a cut flower. But The Man bought me some bulbs, which are set in this glass jar, and are supposed to bloom without being planted. Potentially, I could keep them alive for a while.

Seems like I’m getting a migraine every night. I probably need new glasses, but I don’t have eye insurance, and my prescription is an expensive one. Originally, I started sketching out a drawing that would accurately express my emotional state (hint: it was a porcupine) but there’s no way. Actually, originally I was going to paint or draw with Misses Kitty but we just spend an hour yammering. I can’t focus on anything lately.

Grains of pollen. On a red tulip.

If this sort of thing appeals to you, you can also see some other images in this set on Imgur: the stamen of that tulip, and a fleabane wearing an insect like a hat.