“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.
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm 1/80 sec, f/16, ISO 3200
“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
“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 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
“The whites, yellows, and pale purples of early spring begin to fade, yet purple holds on, larger and more brilliant than before.” – Ed Lehming
We have spent the past two weekends starting a fairly significant garden.
As we worked, tilled, and planted a scene that we simply could not ignore was the profusion of deep purple Dame’s Rockets. The literally surround the one-acre garden plot (we did not plant the whole acre). The Rockets a tall and lush and remind us that spring is soon to end, and the summer plants will take over.
The building I chose for the background is a drive shed, used to store tools and implements. It’s a wonderful, weatherworn structure with a tin roof. I have no idea what the little belfry is about. I don’t think it ever held a bell but was attached as a decoration. It does add interest.
I enjoyed the scene so much that I also rendered it as an impessionistic digital painting.
I find this is such a beautiful calming image. Though we were all tired from toiling in the field, scenes like this bring us joy and getting a garden going is very satisfying.
iPhone 7 back camera @ 4.0mm 1/1900 sec; f/1.8; ISO 20
“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” ― Kate Morton
Now that the garden is starting to fill in, I find myself spending more time enjoying some of the simple blossoms that I often take for granted. Some of these, like the tiny lobelia often go unnoticed because they are so tiny, yet they add some beautiful splashes of colour.
Photographing them and reviewing the images also gives me the opportunity more closely observe the flowers themselves and I find myself researching them more than I would if I just glance at them from a distance.
Lobelia erinus, or trailing lobelia, is the full name of this particular variety and was was surprised to find it is native to South Africa/ Though I really should not be that surprised as most of the garden plants we take for granted have come for overseas at some point in time and have been imported for a particular trait. In lobelia’s case, it’s the beautiful shape of the flowers and the fact that it naturally trails, making it ideal for hanging baskets and planters, which is exactly where this one resides.
Nikon D800 Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm 1/50 sec, f/10.0, ISO 800
“Before my eyes was a sea of white stars, bright yellow anthers, and deep green foliage. With the warming air, summer can’t be far off now” – Ed Lehming
The image that I selected today was made in my garden this afternoon. The subject: Star of Bethlehem, a beautiful perennial that I acquired a few years ago from my mother-in-law’s garden. When she downsized and moved to a condo I offered to provide a new home to many of her garden treasures.
This plant was a surprise for me, as she moved in the summer and I simply transplanted what looked like a thick grass, having no idea what variety of plant it actually was, till the next spring, when two of these plants filled my front garden with wonderful white stars.
It does not bloom for long and only blossoms in sunlight, aften waiting till near noon before the flowers open; when they do it’s simply beautiful. They bring a bit of purity to the garden, which is just transitioning to late spring blossoms. They are a splash of freshness among the currently flowerless foliage and ferns and have become one of my garden favourites.
To get a nice composition is a challenge since there are so many near-perfect blossoms to chose from.
Nikon D800 Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm 1/500 sec, f/10.0, ISO 800
“I think I like spring the most. Everything is fresh and pristine, time and weather have not made their mark yet.” – Ed Lehming
I believe this may be my final trillium image for the season, the air has suddenly turned hot and muggy and what was once pure and white will already have begun to deteriorate. The white petals will turn a pale magenta but the pristine beauty they displayed last week will have faded.
This year has been a bit strange, very cool and dry. I fondly recall last year where cool temperatures lasted well into early June. I was enjoying trilliums for two weeks with a complete absence of biting insects.
The purity of this time of year is a special balm this year. With the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic the freshness of the forest has restored me. I’ve extended my hike, taking time to really enjoy my forest surroundings and paying particular attention to all the new growth; leaves opening up, flowers filling the brown-gray forest floor with colour, and the sounds of birds returning. It really is a breath of fresh air.
From a photographic point of view, I had forgotten to turn my ISO back as I’d been shooting in mostly low light all day, so used a high shutter speed and moderate aperture to compensate. Sometimes these things happen.
Nikon D800 Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm 1/2500 sec, f/10.0, ISO 800