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

The Marine

“The Marine”

It was on the morning of June 14th, 2019, when I first became acquainted with the sculpture that I call here “The Marine”. The dedication of the Peachtree Corners Veterans Monument was scheduled for Saturday, June 15, the following day.

The final installations were now underway.

Sculptor Chad Fisher had arrived with his team and a truck with the seven sculptures for the monument.

The bronzes were carefully unloaded and taken to the oval with a forklift.

Here “The Marine” is being brought in with Chad walking alongside, making sure that all are handled with the utmost care.

The mounting patterns were measured to allow the pedestals to be drilled to match each sculpture.

One by one the sculptures were lifted by crane and installed, the mounting rods carefully inserted into the holes filled with epoxy.

Final touches and then the sculptured were wrapped for the ceremony on the next day.

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“The Marine” (second from left) and the other sculptured now awaited the unveiling at the dedication ceremony.

Saturday, June 15, 2019 was a bright and sunny day in Peachtree Corners. The crowd gathered, there were short speeches and the bronzes were unveiled.

PC Veterans Monument Dedication

PC Veterans Monument Dedication

“The Marine” stands on a pedestal inscribed with the words, “PROUD BUT WEARY MARINE – WORLD WAR II ERA”.

My own ode to “The Marine” is available for purchase so you may proudly display an image of American strength and dedication (click the image below).

The Marine

 

.:. © 2019 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