Tag Archives: purple

“Monarch on Purple Coneflower”

“Monarch on Purple Coneflower”

“There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself.” 
― Lemony Snicket

For the past several days, I’ve watched one or two monarch butterflies on my purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpura) and I have not had my camera handy. By the time I gathered my camera and got outside, it seems the butterflies had flown off. Or, they fly off as I slowly approach the flowerbed, not to return that day, to my knowledge.

Today, fortune was with me. I was on my way to gather a blossom to photograph in my studio and I noticed a Monarch as busy feasting on the flower’s nectar, along with many honeybees. Once more, I did not have my camera with me and, once again, I went inside to get it. On my return the butterfly was still on the flower, but flew away as I approached. I decided to wait it out by photographing the blossoms and the bees, seeing the butterfly floating around in my periphery. Well, it paid off, and the butterfly, unable to resist this large cluster of Echinacea, returned once more and gave me the opportunity to snap a few shots before taking off once more. This is one of the three images I made while it fed.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/160 sec, f/10.0, ISO 320

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“Purple Loosestrife” – Sauble Beach, Ontario

“Purple Loostrife” - Sauble Beach, Ontario

“When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” 
― Euripides

Continuing on my “purple phase” theme, here’s a beautiful invader. Though a beautiful flowering plant, in Ontario and other areas where it was introduced as a garden flower, this garden escapee soon established itself in meadows and wetlands, crowding out native plants.

It spreads through rapidly spreading rhizomes and seeds. Each plant can produce over one thousand seeds. It also has no naturally occurring predators, so it spreads uncontrolled, though something, likely earwigs or slugs, seems to be feasting on the leaves below the blossoms.

The plant was spreading like wildfire a few years ago, but recent dry and hot summers seemed, coupled with human efforts to eradicate it, seemed to be taking its toll on the population. This year, which has been extremely wet, seems to have enabled it to bounce back and I’ve seen much more of it an areas where it has not previously occurred. SO the battle goes on.

It’s a shame that such a pretty plant needs to be so aggressively invasive. But, that seems to be a common theme. Plants are introduced from overseas because they are beautiful in gardens, but once they escape, without natural controls, they can quickly take over. The dandelion is perhaps the best known example. Imported for its food value centuries ago, it has now spread to every corner of the continent. However, as evidenced in this image, local insects wildlife also adapts and soon begins to eat the introduced species. Nature is quite adaptable, but with limits.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/60 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

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“Spotted Knapweed”

“Spotted Knapweed Blossom”

“Stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet.”
– Jeremy Bentham 

What looked like delicate thistles from a distance turned out to be Knapweed. The dunes and roadside around Sauble Beach were filled with them. It’s yet another flowering plant that I seem to have overlooked in the past. I suppose it’s because I am deliberately looking for new wildflowers to photograph and learn about that I am finding these as well as many of the more obscure plants native to the areas I visit.

As I’ve said in a few previous posts, we’re now fully into the ‘purple phase’ of summer blossoms, with fields and roadsides filled with knapweed, thistles, vervain, and many more. I like this time of year for it’s diversity of flowering plants, though the rain and heat is taking its toll on the leaves and stems and I’m seeing many plants going dormant in preparation for the inevitable autumn, which thankfully, is still a while away.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/80 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

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“Vervain Among the Dunes”

“Vervain among the Dunes”

“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” 
― Rachel Carson 

I get great enjoyment photographing plants and animals in areas away from home and the sand dunes of Sauble Beach are no exception. I came across many plants which survive well in the dry sand dunes which bound the back of the beach. Many still need to be looked up and this one surprised me. A simple Blue Vervain in an unexpected environment.

Close to home, Swamp Vervain is fairly common but not Blue Vervain. The plants are similar, but differ in the shape of the flower spike. I was also expecting Blue Vervain to be more of a meadow or wetland flower, based on my experience, so to find it in the dunes was interesting. It did seem quite healthy in the dry environment, but I expect even the dunes hold surprising amount of water this year with high lake levels. The conditions may have been just right and nature continues to amaze.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/60 sec, f/10.0, ISO 200

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“Bull Thistle Blossom”

“Bull Thistle Blossom”

“If you want the beautiful moments to shine, you have to contrast that with dark and gruesome moments. That’s the way life is.”
– Tony DiTerlizzi 

One of the many common blossom in this ‘purple phase’ of summer blooms is, of course, the Bull Thistle. Though, it could almost make it for the ‘pink phase’ as well. During my drives north, I have seen many Bull Thistles blooming and wondered what was delaying our local thistles. Well they seem to have caught up and I found many wonderful specimens to photograph, including this ‘pristine’ flower, blooming next to a walking path just south of my home.

There were many blossoms with active bees, but I will save those images for a later date. For now, I’m just enjoying the conflicting textures of this flower. So seemingly delicate on top, with its pink/purple frills, yet so obviously painful to touch just below them’

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/40 sec, f/14.0, ISO 100

High Resolution Image on 500px

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“Swamp Vervain – Verbena hastata”

“Swamp Vervain - Verbena hastata”

“When you see how fragile and delicate life can be, all else fades into the background.”
– Jenna Morasca

Here’s yet another purple, mid-summer blossom. I recall very well when I first saw one, blooming at the edge of a swampy area near my home. It was the first time I had ever seen this lovely, delicate species and it took me a while to figure out what it was called.

Swamp Vervain is not an overly attractive name for this beauty, but it does grow in wet areas, so it’s appropriate. I prefer the latin name, as hastata means having a triangular or spear-shape, which nicely describes the flowers, as you can see from the photo.

The next day, it seemed they were everywhere. I guess I had just not noticed them before and my new awareness gave me new eyes for it. To get this image, I went back to the places I remember seeing it previously, and it was quite simple to find.

My lesson in this is knowing what to look for as well as where and when to look. This has made it easier and less time consuming to find good subjects for my photography. I’m removing some of the ‘chance’ which has been an element of my photography in the past. It also means I’m going out at the right time of day to optimize my lighting.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/500 sec, f/3.5 ISO 100

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“Wild Bergamot – Mondarda fistulosa”

“Wild Bergamot - Mondarda fistulosa”

“Little things seem nothing, but they give peace, like those meadow flowers which individually seem odorless but all together perfume the air.”
– Georges Bernanos

Have you noticed the summer shift to purple and yellow? The pattern repeats. There is a gradual shift from pinks to purples and yellows. Thistles, bergamot, vervain for purples, yellow coneflower, sunflower, wood sorrel, and sunflower for yellow.

It’s a definite shift in colours and the pollinators, which are plentiful this year, seem to favour purple.

Wild Bergamot, or Bee Balm is plentiful in the local meadows and conservation areas. The vast clumps are literally ‘abuzz’ with bees and wasps of all shapes and sizes. The Wild Bergamot flower is a fascinating thing, appearing quite ragged, yet wonderfully complex at the same time.

I thought it would make a nice subject for a studio shot and I was not disappointed. This image gives me a chance to look at the wonderful, intricate structures that make up the blossom. It could only have been better if a bee had come with it, I did try to use my portable studio setup, but it was just too breezy today for a good outdoor shot. So, here you have it. Let the flower work its magic on you, drawing you into the frills that the bees are so fond of.

This is an immature blossom, with many underdeveloped florets, but beautiful nonetheless. There will be more to follow, be certain of that. Hopefully, the next few days offer the opportunity for an outdoor shot, without the need to pick a flower. Perhaps a bee may join in?

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
2.0 sec, f/36.0, ISO 100

High Resolution Image on 500px

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