Photography

My garden’s flowers up close

Lavender

My front yard features a good-sized garden, placed there by Verna, the woman who built my house. Unfortunately, she passed away before she filled the garden. And so little by little over the years I’ve been filling it with flowering plants that I can enjoy – and photograph. My photography is pretty powerful motivation considering that I really don’t like digging in dirt!

Grape hyacinth

I never used to pay any attention to flowers. But when I started taking road trips several years ago, I started to notice them growing wild wherever I stopped to photograph things along the road. So I started photographing the flowers, too, and even started to seek them out. And now I wander around my garden every spring with my camera in my hand. I have a truly outstanding 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor lens that focuses to about nine inches. Recently I put it on my Nikon F2 and loaded some Fujicolor 200 and took several photos over a couple weeks’ time in my garden.

Not violets

The shot above puzzles me, because in real life these flowers are blue. They’re in a basket of red, white, and blue flowers that I placed on my front stoop. I can’t figure out why they came out purple! Was it a limitation of the Fujicolor 200 film? Was it a fault in the processing or scanning?

What are these?

Mom dug several plants out of her garden last fall for me to plant in mine. She and my dad are ready to move out of their home of 38 years, and Mom will be leaving her gardens behind. So I’m glad to have some of her flowers in my garden now. The bell-shaped flowers above are among them. I forget what they’re called!

Daffodil bud

Daffodils were among the flowers Verna planted, and they are always the first things to bloom. They are my signal that spring has begun! Here’s a fresh bud.

Daffodil

And here’s an opened daffodil from several days later. The oversaturated yellow and the lack of detail – do they represent more problems with the film, processing, or scanning? Hard telling. But it has me thinking it’s time to move away from consumer-grade color film for everything except trying out a new-to-me old camera.

Also check out the flowers I’ve photographed roadside: here, here, here, here, and here.

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20 thoughts on “My garden’s flowers up close

  1. hmunro says:

    Your images are beautiful, Jim — but even more beautiful and touching is the fact that you’re keeping Verna’s garden going … and now, adding some plants from your mom’s garden too. I can’t think of a sweeter tribute for a gardener than to take over the care of their plot. Hats off to you!

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  2. Very nice work in the floral realm. Certainly nothing wrong with experimenting with a variety of films, though I would be mostly happy with the color renditions you got from your Fuji. There are so many variables to sort through. Open shade will often result in a shift toward the blue end. Scanning software will interpret the results in a variety of ways. At nine inches and f/8 your zone of sharp focus is only 0.16 inches deep. All that aside, you have certainly shown that your own back yard is full of great picture opportunities.

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    • I thought these colors were a little too saturated. They’re fine standing on their own (except for the lack of detail in the bloomed daffodil) but don’t match my memory of actual color.

      I never looked at these negatives — I wonder what would happen if I scanned them myself.

      I take a ton of photos within a 100-foot radius of my front door. There’s plenty to photograph!

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  3. Bob Smith says:

    Jim, had the same problem with my older Canon- colors were not accurate. sent it to Canon- they replaced the Sensor no charge and it worked great.

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  4. Wes C says:

    I actually like the lack of detail and color of the daffodil picture. Nice and dreamy looking! But, I can also appreciate your frustration since it must not be what you were intending. I’ve been meaning to pickup one of the 55mm Micro-Nikkor’s for my F2 since they seem to be an excellent value today.

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    • That’s just it – I was looking for greater accuracy in rendition. But yes, you’re right, the yellow is strong and almost mesmerizing. And if you like shooting macro, you’ll love the Micro-Nikkor.

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  5. Daffodils are a real challenge. The flower is usually so much brighter than what surrounds it. To get any kind of range of tones I have had to underexposure. I have usually had better luck with digital here since I can more easily combine a range of exposures to get one more like what I have seen.

    There could be a lot of reasons for the color problem. This is one of those times that using the curves tool in Photoshop can be helpful. Some scanning software also has a curve tool. Many times it can help get a color closer to what I would like.

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    • I tried scanning the daffodil negative myself and got pretty different results – less saturation, a little more detail, but not as warm. So I’m wondering if Dwayne’s scanner was running oversaturated that day.

      But you’re right, daffodils are hard to capture well. Even with my Canon S95 I have some difficulties.

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    • These are always the first flowers up in my yard every year. I have a bunch growing in the back yard, too, in a back corner. So I always cut them and bring them in the house to really enjoy them!

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