Tiny mating moths

12 05 2013

My neighbor, dear friend and frequent photography companion, Michael Powell, challenged me to get a shot of these tiny moths in my garden yesterday afternoon. They were on the edge of a leaf of one of my many Rose campion (Lychnis coronaria) plants (they self-seed all over the garden). Combined (and yes, they were combined), the moths barely measured an inch in width! If you’re familiar with depth-of-field in photography and how it works, you’ll know that the closer you get to the subject (and the tinier it is), the areas in focus become extremely shallow. I was directly overhead shooting these two moths and they were visually on the same plane, but it was difficult to get a shot where almost everything was in focus. This was my best shot and I’m happy with it overall.

I still haven’t identified what kind of insects they are. Michael and I are fairly certain they are moths, but we could be swayed otherwise with a more official identifications. Takers, anyone?

UPDATE: Thanks to Jane Auty Kirkland (author/photographer of the Take a Walk Books series), for identifying these little moths. She has identified them as Orange Mint moths (Pyrausta orphisalis). Check out this link here for clarification.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mating Moths lorez





Blooming in my garden: Rose Campion

24 05 2011

Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria) is a hardy and drought-tolerant perennial with silver-gray leaves on 2- to 3-foot tall stalks. Vividly intense magenta flowers bloom late spring to mid-summer and frequent deadheading keeps them blooming longer. A common flower in cottage gardens, they seed everywhere and are suitable for xeriscaping. Partial shade to full sun, zones 3-9, colors: pale pink, pink, fuchsia and white/near white (And yes, they are this intensely colored!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blooming in my garden: Rose Campion ‘Angel’s Blush’

23 05 2011

This is one of the most prolific self-seeding plants I have ever grown and one of my favorites because it is happy to grow when and where it wants! I have this pink and white variety as well as the intensely-colored deep pink blooms (which are actually harder to photograph because the color is so intense!). It self-seeds in the front garden sidewalk cracks, sprouts out of the stone wall border around our garden, and even shows up halfway across the garden (where I certainly didn’t plant it!). This disease-resistant perennial is very easy to grow. Deadheading spent flowers ensures blooms through the entire summer! The velvety texture and silvery gray-green leaves and stems remind me of Dusty Miller and Lamb’s Ears. Rose Campion (Lychnis coronaria), also called Mullein pink, prefers sunny, well-drained soil (but I’ve had it grow in partial shade, too, when it self-seeded!). It can be propagated by seed or divided by basal cuttings in early spring. One inch flowers bloom profusely atop stems that reach 18-24″.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.






Columbine + today’s photography lesson

20 05 2011

I’m really enjoying experimenting with depth-of-field to create bokeh (pronounced “bo-kuh”) in my flower photography. Yes, you’ll sacrifice the foreground-to-background focus you’d get using smaller apertures, but sometimes a flower demands that effect—use selective focusing and let the other areas go soft.

I decide when I’m going to use larger apertures mostly based on what the background behind my subject looks like. If I’m shooting extremely close up on a flower, I want to capture all the details from front to back and since there wouldn’t be a strong background in those shots, I can use smaller apertures and get really sharp depth-of-field throughout. When the background behind a subject is less than desirable (many colors competing with my subject, sharp lines like grass blades and flower stems, etc.), I’ll try the larger aperture approach until I get that wonderful bokeh photographers strive for. Knocking the background out in some shots can create amazing blobs and streaks of color. Here, the background flowers (Poppies and Rose Campion, as I recall) go completely out of focus, giving this shot what I call the “Skittles” effect!

And now for your daily lecture: If you don’t have a tripod, save up your bucks and get a really good one and use it as often as you can. I’ve always had one and wasn’t religious about using it much until I got serious about my macro photography. Yes, it’s a burden to lug one around, but take a look at the carbon fiber models—they’re much lighter than others. I bought a Benro C-298EX tripod last year at a photography show for under $250 (a steal compared to what I paid for my first carbon fiber tripod when they first came out!) from Hunt’s Photo and Video (great retailer, by the way!). You can find almost all of the Benro models at great prices by doing a search on the Hunt’s Photo website here. I don’t think they’re making this model anymore, but there are other Benro carbon fiber models to chose from and some are less expensive. Read the specs; if your camera is lightweight, you could get by with one of the lesser priced models. With this particular model, I can take the center column and switch it from vertical to horizontal for more flexibility. You can also spread the tripod legs independently and lock them in place in three stop increments.

Once you settle on your choice of tripod, add a good tripod head to it. I have some smaller and cheaper tripod heads, but after trying the Manfrotto 322RC2 joystick head, I was sold. It’s not quite as pricey as some of Manfrotto’s other tripod heads (Amazon has it for $129.95 here). When I’m photographing portraits and on-the-go shots, I don’t always use a tripod, but to get really good macro shots, you really should use a tripod. It will free your hands up to tidy up the area around your subject, move leaves/twigs/wayward grasses, etc., and you’ll have a hand free to hold a diffuser if you don’t have a trusty assistant with you!

Then again, a cheaper tripod is better than no tripod at all, I’d venture to say. So, if you can’t afford to splurge on a lightweight carbon fiber model with a really good quick-release ball head, use what you have and work your way up to it when you want to take your work to the next level. In case you’re wondering—no, I don’t get paid for these product endorsements—I just wanted to share some of the tools I use to get those shots!

Addendum: I could just buy one more Photoshop plug-in product (Alien Skin’s Bokeh 2) and take the easier way out (don’t think I haven’t considered it—I own everything else they make, almost). Now that I’ve watched their demo video, I’m getting the urge to order it. Watch the video—you’ll fall in love with this product just like I did!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





It’s a jungle out there

28 05 2009

Shot of our front yard garden taken this afternoon…

Just past bloom: White & purple Bearded Iris and Purple Sensation Allium 

Debuting now: Beard’s Tongue, Catmint, Veronica Speedwell, Creeping Thyme, Sweet William, Penstemon, Rose Campion (blush pink-white and bright pink varieties), Hellebores, Sedum, Yellow Yarrow, Nasturtium, White Dianthus, Pink Phlox, Hosta flowers, Ageratum, Evening Primrose ‘Lemon Drop’, Strawflower, Geraniums 

Very-soon-to-bloom: Globe Thistle, Lavender (various), Coreopsis, Tickseed, Lilies (various) and Salvia

And later in the seasonButterfly bush (pink, yellow, purple varieties), Coneflower (various varieties)

Platycodon Balloon Flower (purple and white varieties), Shasta Daisies, Black-eyed Susan, Monarda Bee Balm, Lamb’s Ear, Morning Glory ‘Heavenly Blue’, Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’, Maximilian sunflower

Ha! And this is just the list of plants in the front yard. Proof enough that I’m a gardener obsessed.

Got a question for my fellow gardeners…what is the weed (looks a lot like the tops of celery plants or almost cilantro-looking leaf) that is taking over my entire garden in spades? Why have I not noticed this prolific pest in previous years? Is it a new invasive? Do I need to photograph it for identification?
  
© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

InBloom5282009


 





Blooming in the garden today…

3 06 2008

Blooming in the front garden today: Tickseed, Creeping Thyme, Beard’s Tongue, pink and white Rose Campion, Sweet William, white and rusty-red Lilies, hot pink Ice Plant, white Dianthus, Alliums, white and burgundy Campanula, purple Veronica, yellow Yarrow, Lavender, Catmint, and various Sedums

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.    www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos





And now, back to those flowers…

25 05 2008

You should have known I wouldn’t stray away too far from the garden this time of the year, shouldn’t you?

I shot these Friday afternoon. Below: Rock Penstemon, Campanula ‘Wedding Bells’, Yellow Yarrow, Hot Pink Ice Plant, Rose Campion ‘Angel’s Blush’ (in bloom and foliage only photos), coral-colored Begonias (I think), unknown Allium (I think), Lamb’s Ear and Johnny-Jump-ups, and a yet identified Clematis.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.  www.cindydyer.wordpress.com