Wednesday Wonderment – pt 8

Lowly beauty with benefits

With Spring fast approaching, I have been in a somewhat more floral mood, which leads me to this little flower that soon every gardener will be trying to remove from their lawns: the dandelion.

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Spherical Beauty

The humble dandelion is a simple yet beautiful flower that is maligned only for its propensity to spread very quickly, as its seed head has the ability to start many other plants. In many parts of the world, this plant is cultivated.  The name dandelion comes from the French dent de lion, which translates to lion’s tooth; the dandelion leaf has a resemblance to lion’s teeth.

Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties, and it contains a number of pharmacologically active compounds. Dandelion is used as a herbal remedy in Europe, North America, and China. It has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, bile and liver problems, and as a diuretic.

The flower petals, along with other ingredients, usually including citrus, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry, mostly in salads and sandwiches.

Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C, and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese.

Overall, the lowly dandelion is a good little plant, except when it disturbs the green of your lovely lawn!

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk II and an EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens .  Exposure settings were  f/7.1 at 1/125 second with ISO 400.

TTT – Analysis of a Photo

Cabbage anyone?

In this Tuesday Technique Topic, rather than covering a wider range of technical topic, I’d like to do an analysis of a single image.  Please let me know, if this is something that you would like to see done on other images.

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Ornamental Cabbage

This image is rather simple, isn’t it?  At first glance, you see a rather colorful ornamental cabbage.  As you look closer, you’ll notice that the cabbage is sharp in its bright purple center, but that the edges are blurring, as we go away from center.  This is not something that was added in Photoshop, but, rather, a conscious decision at the time that I photographed this lovely Autumn vegetable.

The sharp center and blurred edges have the effect of allowing the eye to leave the center, but always drawing it back in; this makes the image a bit mesmerizing in, I hope, a good way.

The advantage of most DSLRs is that they have a variety of settings that allow the photographer to control the final result of the image.  As the depth of field was the critical aspect, I shot this image in aperture priority, so that I set the aperture to f/5.6, which for a focal length of 105mm produces a rather shallow depth of field; at the distance of just under 5 feet, the focal plane is about an inch on either side of the focus point, providing the effect you see here.

What other questions might you have about this image?  If I have any insight into what you may be curious about, I will be happy to share it with you.

Post-processing

My post-processing routine is pretty straightforward, as I am by no means a Photoshop expert.  On this image, the layers used were (in order):

  1. Base image
  2. Unsharp mask
  3. Overlay at 41% opacity
  4. Levels to increase the pop of the colors
  5. A slight bit of contrast increase
  6. A little extra saturation

Nothing overly dramatic, as you see.

I hope this is of interest to you.  I’d love to hear feedback both positive and negative!  Thank you, as always, for reading!!

7-Day Nature Photo Challenge – Day 3

Canis lupus walks with us

I was nominated by a fellow blogger, Project Relish, for a 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge.

So for the next week, let’s see, if I can come up with some interesting nature images and pass the challenge onto some of my fellow bloggers.

 

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Denahee, our Ambassador

Today’s image is from a wonderful experience that I had in 2010, when I had the privilege of walking with a wolf, Denahee.  This was at an education-oriented wolf sanctuary not far from home.

Denahee walked with us through the woods and would wander off on her own from time to time, but always come right back to our group.  At one point during the walk, she walked up beside me and leaned into me, which was an amazing moment of bonding.

This image was taken at about eye-height for Denahee, from a distance of approximately 5 feet.  You can see that she is listening to the photographer in background.

Technical Details

This image was captured with my trusty Canon EOS 5D Mk II and 24-105 f/4L lens.  Exposure settings were f/6.3 at 1/160 second at ISO 1250.

The Rules

Post a #naturephoto every day and nominate another blogger for this challenge.

Nomination

The challenge of nominating a fellow blogger…  Michael of mlambertsphotography has a beautifully organized photography blog, which is well worth checking out!  If Michael accepts the challenge, I look forward to the results!

7-Day Nature Photo Challenge – Day 2

Rosy-fingered dawn

I was nominated by a fellow blogger, Project Relish, for a 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge.

So for the next week, let’s see, if I can come up with some interesting nature images and pass the challenge onto some of my fellow bloggers.

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ρόδoδακτύλos Ηως

This image came from arriving at a golf course, as the sun was still making its presence felt.  What came to mind was Homer’s oft-used epithet for Eos, the goddess of Dawn, the rosy-fingered Dawn.

This image also gives me a sense of the cycle of death and renewal, as petals are dying on this rose-bush, while buds are showing the promise of new growth.

Technical Details

This image was captured with an iPhone 4S using the standard camera app and treated through Instagram.

The Rules

Post a #naturephoto every day and nominate another blogger for this challenge.

Nomination

The challenge of nominating a fellow blogger…  gottatakemorepix runs a blog full of amazing images, many of which are nature at its finest!

7-Day Nature Photo Challenge – Day 1

Sky and plant meet

I was nominated by a fellow blogger, Project Relish, for a 7-Day Nature Photo Challenge.

So for the next week, let’s see, if I can come up with some interesting nature images and pass the challenge onto some of my fellow bloggers.

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Skyflection

This was an image that I captured at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA, last year July.  Tower Hill is one of my favorite places to go visit in any season, as the staff do a wonderful job at managing the flora to create something of interest just about any time of year.

During the Winter, the indoor displays are relaxing and magnificent to traverse, as many tropical and subtropical species are in-doors, ranging from orange and lemon trees to exotic ferns, whose structure is mesmerizing.

Spring starts with an onslaught of color, which continues well into Summer.  Autumn is probably my favorite time of year, as the rich, warm tones of the season dominate.

Technical Details

This image was captured with my trusty Canon EOS 5D Mk III and 24-105 f/4L lens.  Exposure settings were f/10 at 1/125 second at ISO 200.

The Rules

Post a #naturephoto every day and nominate another blogger for this challenge.

Nomination

The challenge of nominating a fellow blogger…  idiot.with.camera runs a very cool blog with amazing images from this year’s project 365 (hint: go check it out).  I think 7 days of nature photography will blend well with this talented idiot’s work!  I look forward to the results!

Thoughts of Spring

Flowers, wherefore art thou?

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Soon!

When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy over the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year;
For the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.

The Winter’s Tale (4.3.1-4)
William Shakespeare

***

This lovely tulip may not be the flower of choice for Shakespeare, but I look forward to her return, as the lovely season of Spring gets ever closer!

What do you enjoy most about Spring?

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 6

Leaf power

Today, I am going back to Nature for this installment of Wednesday Wonderment, as she is a source of immeasurable variety, beauty and amazement.

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Structural Integrity

This amazing leaf was in a tropical greenhouse at the Botanical Garden of the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.  This botanical garden is both a fantastic exhibit to visit and see plants from a variety of biomes, and a research facility for the students of the University of Technology.  During our visit, a group of students was working with a professor to study soil characteristics, which was interesting to watch.

One of the aspects of Nature that continually grabs my attention are the structures that make up plants, leaves and trees; the distribution of strength in support of the energy production machinery is sheer perfection.  Even today, when I look at this image, there are little details such as the feathering of the lamina between the lateral veins; it might be indicative of the flow of energy and fluid through the leaf.

Each of these details have evolved over the ages, as successful function edged out other variants by the thinnest of margins.  It would be amazing to see the entire book of variations over the ages, as that would provide insight beyond anything that we have ever possessed.

Technical Details

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mk III and a 24-105 f/4L lens.  Settings were  f/5.6 at 1/320 second with ISO 1000.  The image was processed using the camera’s HDR capability.

Hope you enjoy this leaf, as much as I do.