Monthly Archives: June 2020

“Morning Peony”

“Morning Peony”

“Hanging heavy with morning dew, a peony blossom among the leaves beams joyfully from the supporting foliage.” – Ed Lehming

I couldn’t have asked for a nicer composition, already framed by the bright green leaves of my spiraea bush, these peony blossoms were a joy to behold. It had just rained and the already large and heavy blossoms would have been on the ground had it not been for the spiraea’s support.

Those who cherish peony know the story. It seems that just as the blooms fully open, a rain storm will pass through and knock them down. Even after shaking as much water as possible from the flowers, they never quite stand up straight again.

This particular specimen was planted along one of my backyard fences as I was seeking a place to put all the peonies that I had acquired from my mother-in-law a few years back. It was important to her that her cherished peonies, many of which her mother passed down to her, stay in the family. So, this one, which was quite small only a few years ago, ended up in an available space next to a spiraea bush. Well, the peony has since flourished and the spirea has been a helpful neighbour, holding the heavy flowers up in even the heaviest rains. At time it looks like the blossoms are part of the bush itself, as they emerge between the leaves.

As I was tending to the garden that morning, I happened to have my phone close by and created this quick and natural composition. Everything was just right and I’m happy to be able to preserve another nice memory.

iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm
1/540 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)

Crispy Leaf Tips

Some good plant advice for us home gardeners.


Who would have thought that watering your plants would so be complicated? One of the many common struggles of plant ownerships is crispy leaf tips. These are incredibly common on prayer plants like Marantas, Calathias, Stromanthes, and Ctenanthes. In most cases, this is from the metals and chemicals often found in tap water.

Some people find that distilled water or rainwater are the only solutions to prevent these crispy bits entirely, but others find that filtered water offers a more convenient and easier compromise. The important thing is that whatever water you decide to use, ensuring that chlorine and fluoride have been removed from your watering source is important. These chemicals aren’t able to be processed by your plant and as a result the ends of your leaves die and crisp up.

At the end of the day, crispy lead tips won’t kill your plant, it’s just aesthetics.  So, if…

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“Seemingly simple but infinitely complex, nature offers new details the closer you look.” – Ed Lehming

This week I decided to take a break from mainstream social media, especially Facebook. I’ve found myself overwhelmed by intense and polarized viewpoints. I think much has to do with the physiological effects of the COVID restrictions. It will be some time before the full effects are assessed and understood. I know it’s been challenging for me on more than a few occasions.

I’ve seen decades-long friendships erode and fall to pieces; not my personal friendships, but those of other acquaintances as each party tries to win the other over to their viewpoint. So, as the Facebook battle rages, I’ve decided to withdraw for a while and focus on the seeming simplicity of the natural world around me. Hopefully, some of my photos and thoughts will bring peace and pleasure to others as the human world rages on.

Though I’m withdrawing from Facebook my blog is set up to push content to my Facebook business page and that will continue because many of my customers and fans don’t do WordPress. I’m very happy that I do because the blogging community is so much more respectful and appreciative that mainstream sites.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/500 sec, f/18.0, ISO 800


“Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)”

“Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)”

“Tiny hints of purple between the undergrowth draw me in. Wild geraniums are beginning to bloom as the forest darkens under a thickening canopy of leaves.” – Ed Lehming

I still recall vividly the first time I discovered these beautiful little blooms along a forest trail. At first, easy to overlook, but once you see them they seem to be in every nook and cranny. Not knowing what they were, I took a few photos and researched them when I got home.

It turns out that these are wild geraniums. They look nothing like their highly modified domestic and highly hybridized counterparts, but when you look at them side by side, some similarities start to show.

I’ve gotten to the point where I begin to note the foliage in late spring and make a point of going back to the denser patches around blossom time, which began last week. Once you notice them, like many of the other diminutive forest floor blossoms, it’s hard not see more. They do tend to like the shade, thus the unusually high aperture setting on my camera in order to facilitate the narrow aperture, and slightly moist soil but are quite adaptable and are a hint at the many forest wildflowers still to bloom.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/80 sec, f/16, ISO 3200

“Chive Blossom”

“There can be wonder in even the simplest things. Sometimes it takes closer observation to see how amazing the mundane can be when you spend time considering it.” – Ed Lehming

One of the most satisfying aspects of photography is the ability to spend time with what I photograph, both during and after making the actual photograph.

The chive blossom pictured here is a prime example. I was out in the garden yesterday photographing some of the flowers when I noticed this single blossom highlighted by a single beam of sunlight. As I set the shot up and started composing the image and making sure it was focussed, some of the fine details of the flower itself revealed themselves. These details are not readily visible to the casual observer. They look like fluffy purple flowers. But when you look carefully and deliberately the fine yellow anthers are noticed as well as the complex layers of the sepals where the blossom joins to the plant stalk.

These details become even more noticeable as I process my image. The flower which is only about 3 centimeters in size shows every detail when viewed on a twentyone inch monitor, even more so when you zoom in.

I’ve really noticed this even more so with naturally occurring things, like plants, whereas man-made items don’t reveal any further complexity, which I find to be a very interesting and surprising phenomenon.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/2500 sec, f/4.5, ISO 250


“Small white stars dot the deep green carpet of the forest floor, a private constellation of purity.” – Ed Lehming

Starflower (Lysimachia borealis) was what I set out to photograph earlier this week. To my dismay, the hot dry weather had accelerated their blooms and I only found a few still flowering. But it was not a total loss, the few that remained were still in good condition and I was able to make this image.

The more time I spend hiking the more keenly aware I become of my natural surroundings. I’ve seen starflower plants emerging from between dried leaves since early May, making note of where the larger colonies where, so i could return at a later date. I’ve gotten better at identifying plants as tiny sprouts and flowerless greenery.

Part of my routine now is to seek out plants that I am not as familiar with, photograph them, and study them once I get home. That was the case with starflowers only a few years ago. They seemed quite rare at the time but as I became familiar with them, I find them to be quite abundant, which I a good thing, since they are such beautiful flowers, if every so briefly.

They can be a challenge to photograph since the bright white contrasts strongly with the deep green foliage. I tend to underexpose my images and correct in post-processing.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/125 sec, f/16.0, ISO 1600


“Nature is impermanent and cyclical. Where once beauty and freshness abounded, desiccated petals remain and leaves begin to lose their freshness. This too will change, following a set pattern, and a new cycle will begin, in its time.” – Ed Lehming

I can’t say that I have ever witnessed this before. Two weeks ago the forest was alight with the pristine blossoms of white trillium (three weeks ago it snowed). Generally, my observation has been that within about a week, the white fades to a pale and mottled pink, causing some observers to think the trilliums are a pink variety. Once the pink fades, the petals fall off, leaving a bright green plant and a seed pod.

This year, the summer heat came quickly and since it been hot and dry at the same time, the petals simply dried in place. The whole forest is filled with these dry petal trilliums. They are actually quite pretty, but unexpected. It’s been a strange year all around so far. I’m wondering what new surprise is around the next corner?

For my photography community, you will see some ‘unorthodox’ settings. I had just entered the forest when I found these and had my ISO set to 400. Because I wanted to get the majority of the image in focus, I set the aperture to f/10.0 and the camera did the rest. Fortunately, I was using a tripod and the slight breeze I experienced the rest of the hike was not present at the time.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/6 sec, f/10.0, ISO 400

“Canada Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)”

“Columbines in the lush green forest is a sure sign that summer is on our doorstep.” – Ed Lehming

As I set out for a hike recently, to photograph Starflowers, I was surprised to find an early patch of wild columbines. Most were in the shadow of the forest but a few dangled like faery bells in the sunshine.

These perennial flowers are always a delight and are so different in structure than most of the low-lying wildflowers usually associated with Southern Ontario woodlands. Their colour alone makes them stand out dramatically against the deep greens of the forest.

Of course, with late spring heat, the mosquitoes were also out to welcome me to their home. I was more concerned with blackflies, which are usually still quite active this time of year, but they seem to have burned off early. The abundance of mosquitoes surprised me, since the spring has been cool and dry, limiting their ability to breed, but they seem quite adept at overcoming such adversities and there were still enough to be an annoyance as I crouched low for this shot. Next time, I will bring bug spray, but for now, I’m just happy to have captured a few pleasing images.

For my fellow photographers, I was not particularly challenged by the light, but there was a slight breeze, which forced me to increase my shutter speed to limit the effects of the motion for this tight macro shot, but had to bump the ISO quite a bit to properly expose the image.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/1250 sec, f/15.0, ISO 1600

“For the Love of Rockets”

“For about a week in June, my world is filled with wonderful seas of purple.” – Ed Lehming

Dames Rocket (Hesperis matronalis) has always been a late spring favourite of mine, even before I knew what it was called. I fondly recall drives into the country with my parents and seeing fields of purple, pink, and white along the roadside.

“Rockets” form dense patches in fields and meadows for about a week in early June. They seem to appear out of nowhere and then they are gone. It may be that fleeting nature that makes them so appealing, especially at a time where there are not a lot of wildflowers blooming yet. It’s even nicer when the occasional daisy blends in. They have a beautiful fragrance which is more pronounced in early evening leading it to also be known as night-scented gilliflower.

I like them so much that for a few years I tried to get them established in my garden. That exercise finally worked out, but they cannot be contained and seed out wherever they want. So a nicely placed patch will soon move to a different part of the garden the next season. They are also not particularly attractive plants when not blooming, so I have since removed them and simply enjoy them in the fields where I first found them.

Like so many of the wonderful wildflowers we have, it was imported from Europe and Asia in the 17th century as a decorative plant and then escaped. In many locations it’s considered an ‘invasive species’ and cultivation is discouraged. Despite that moniker, I like like it and would hate to see it dissappear.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm

1/100 sec, f/10.0, ISO 800