Squash Blossom

Photographing squash blossoms

When you search for “squash blossom” Google will serve up a long collection of recipes for frying, stuffing, and preparing them in other ways.

Photographing them? Who would ever want to to that? Squash blossoms are fickle models. Not easy. Each blossom is open only once and then for just a few hours. The open early, before the daylight gets good enough for photography.

This was taken about eight in the morning. The EXIF says 2020:08:02 06:55:10-04:00, I keep my camera clock on EST.

An hour and a half later a bit of sunlight got through the trees.

Notice that the edges have started to curl up. The blossom does present a neat star-like appearance. (8:28 EST)

Another hour later, at 9:33 EST, the blossom has begun to look bedraggled.

Little creatures have discovered the offering. Not yet the bumble bees that are the main pollinators, just the local neighbors. This is a male blossom and it offers its pollen in the hopes that some of it gets carried over to a female blossom.

Data on the photo below: Focal length 90mm, f/11, distance 0.56 m, DOF= 20 mm Not that the depth of field isn’t enough to get the small flies into focus. The image is cropped. Full frame showed all of the  blossom.

One more hour and the show is over. At 10:32 the blossom has pretty much closed up and looks like it will fall off shortly.

There is more to my story. These blossoms are about 4 to 6 inch across and are also quite deep. That makes getting everything sharp a challenge. For my first photo all the way at the top, I used a lens at 120 mm focal length and f/8. This gave a depth of field of just 18 mm (0.7 inch) as reported in the EXIF data, my shooting distance was 0.79 m (31 inch).

Besides having to manage the DOF exposure poses another little problem. Yellow blossoms, especially these orange-yellow ones, will confuse the camera light meter.

The image on the left shows the photo on the camera. This demonstrates that “chimping”, reviewing the image on your camera, is a good thing. In this mode the histogram is displayed individually for the three colors. The red arrow (added afterwards, of course) shows that the red data has a peak bunched up to the right side, indicating clipping of red information. This can show as washed out detail. You can see the same information in the histogram on the ON1 Photo RAW editor display, on the right. The image of the blossom looks good on the screen, but the histogram says that some red data is clipped.

When I shoot yellow flowers I underexpose, for this photo by a whole stop. Here is the screen view of the ON1 editor for the underexposed photo.

Yes, the photo looks distinctly underexposed, but the histogram shows that I captured all the data. This allows me to make the best of this image in post-processing.

So, to recap. Squash blossoms are temperamental models, they are open for only a couple of hours early in the morning. Their size across and in depth makes depth of field tricky. Pick what you want sharp. Their bright color can fool the camera, underexposure is desirable.

When you see a bud looking like this, set your alarm!

 

.:. © 2020 Ludwig Keck

Georgia Winter

Winter in Georgia

Yes, we do get winter down here in Georgia. Sometimes we even get snow. Here is my story of “winter” in Georgia in 2020.

On February 3rd our first daffodil greeted the new year.

The next day three more blossoms joined the chorus singing to the coming of spring.

Alas, it wasn’t spring that came. It was a cold rain “event” that beat down the flowers two days later and reminded us all of the official season.

The daffodils are a hardy bunch and determined to do their job. By evening they stated to lift their blossoms back up. But then, surprise, on the following morning, February 8, at around 9:30 snow started falling. It had been 750 days, according to one of the Atlanta meteorologists, since the last snow fall in our area. And it wasn’t just a light dusting. We got the full deal! By eleven o’clock that morning about an inch of the white stuff covered the ground and our spring messengers.

Winter snow had come! Of course, hereabouts that’s to be enjoyed quickly. It doesn’t last very long. By five in the afternoon the melting was on its way.

By nine-thirty the next morning it was back to work for our persistent friends.

Our trumpeter of spring proudly stands tall and bright.

… And so do its friends.

Our daffodils, my iPhone (which captured all but one of these images), my shadow and I wish you a happy Valentine’s Day and a glorious spring time!

.:. © 2020 Ludwig Keck

Departure on the Green

Our Peachtree Corners Town Center concert with Departure

Our live music series on “the Green” brought Departure – the Journey Tribute Band to town

Evening concerts are a challenge for me, my aging eyesight and bones. Here is a selection from my “take”. I tried to bring out the feeling of the music with the colorful lighting and some “enhancements”.

One photo just seemed too “colorful” – here with an added B&W version

The crowd really got into the music. There was dancing in the aisles.

In keeping with the testing the week before all photos were taken at f/4. Shutter speed and ISO to accommodate the fading light and lighting conditions.

 

.:. © 2019 Ludwig Keck

Music in the Rain

Concert in the Rain

– on the Town Green in Peachtree Corners

My plan was to swing by the concert for some test shots trying out some techniques for low light photography. Photography in in the evening has become troublesome for me, my old eyes just don’t do as well any more.

It had rained on and off and to my surprise the town green was pretty much deserted. The audience had fled to get under cover. Just a few hardy holdouts were on the grass.

I have always prided myself in being unobtrusive when shooting events. Of course, with no one there to mingle with that didn’t work that evening. Clearly I was noticed.

When folks are waving at you, you are no longer that “invisible observer”. But they were good sports. The band, the Mar-Tans, continued to perform even though the fans had retreated a bit.

One young fan had the “dance floor” all to himself.

Oh, about my “technique”? I wanted to see if I could get decent photos without the usual adjustments and fussing. All these were shot at f/4 and 1/125 sec. I let the camera set the ISO which ranged from 300 to 8000. Focusing was auto, single spot, there is no way I can do manual focusing in the dark. I do move the focus spot around to manage the composition, but that was all. My set was satisfactory to me.

 

.:.

© 2019 Ludwig Keck