Spring flowers, courtesy my Yashica-D and a Spiratone close-up lens

After I figured out I had the close-up lenses on wrong on my Yashica-D, I knew I’d want to shoot with them right to see how the photos turned out. So I attached them correctly and loaded some Kodak Ektar, and waited for the flowers in my gardens to start blooming this spring. One by one, I photographed them as they emerged.

I shared the first of them with you yesterday — the best photo of them all, if you ask me. But here are some more, starting with my grape hyacinths.

Spring flowers from my garden

I forget what these are. I bought them at Walmart, of all places! I planted them in the middle of my big bed and they didn’t flourish. So a couple years ago I moved them to a largely shaded spot just outside my front door and they’ve been very happy ever since.

Spring flowers from my garden

And of course, there are daffodils. Verna, who built my house and lived in it first, planted these. My neighbor says she created the big front bed a few years before she passed. I’m happy to be the current steward of her garden, and to have added my own flowers to it.

Spring flowers from my garden

These are Grecian windflowers. A smattering of them come up every year, bloom for a few days, and then retreat.

Spring flowers from my garden

I forget where my Lily of the Valley come from. I remember planting them, I think. Did Mom give them to me after she and Dad moved out of my childhood home? Did I buy them at Lowe’s? It’s funny how such memories blur after a while.

Spring flowers from my garden

Purple is my favorite color, and I’ve favored purple flowers (like these irises) when I’ve chosen them.

Spring flowers from my garden

These purple and white irises were already here when I moved in. Since my parents retired and moved here, my mom, who misses her gardens, has worked hard in mine. A pine tree Verna planted had grown so large it shaded these irises from full sun. So Mom moved them, and they’re so happy in their new location that they now bloom in the spring and in the autumn.

Spring flowers from my garden

As you can see, I didn’t get the whole flower in focus. I wanted blurred backgrounds, so I chose widest apertures possible in the available light. I wish I had narrowed the aperture a stop or maybe two, which would have brought the whole flower into focus. I’ll bet I would still have gotten blurred backgrounds.

The Yashica-D remains a total joy to shoot. Despite being shaped like a brick, it’s comfortable to hold. Its controls move with silky heft. But it’s the big, bright viewfinder that charms the most, elevating even the most mundane scene with jewel-like color. And now that I know how to properly attach the Spiratone close-up lenses to it, I’m getting good results. Look at this color, this sharpness, this bokeh! The Yahinon lenses are not diminished at all by these inexpensive aftermarket accessories. They let me move to within inches of my subjects while carrying through all of the Yashinon lenses’ great characteristics. Win!

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Spring flowers from my garden

Yashica-D (with Spiratone Close-Up Kit)
Kodak Ektar 100

This is the last year I’ll get to enjoy the gardens on my property, as by this time next year I expect to have finally moved in with my wife in her home. I attached the Spiratone close-up lenses to my Yashica-D and loaded some Ektar, and as the spring flowers began to bloom I recorded them all. More tomorrow!

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single frame: Narcissus



Down the Road is on hiatus, returning Monday, 26 September. I’m rerunning old posts in the meantime.

Spring morning, Rose-Hulman, 1988

As a boy, summer was my favorite season, but as I grew up spring began to overtake it. I remember well the day that spring clinched the top spot. It was the day before I took this photograph, one May morning in 1988.

These were my college days, and this was the view from my residence hall’s back door. I walked this way to breakfast every morning, but my mind was always preoccupied. This lovely scene shouted to me so I had to notice, and I stood there a few steps from the door startled and amazed by how beautiful the campus was. I didn’t want to look away from the still pond, so lovely with all the reflected trees. For the first time I smelled the sweet air, noticing how cool it felt on my arms in contrast to how the sun warmed my skin. As I heard birds chirping in the distance I wondered how many days spring’s arrival had escaped my notice.


Captured: Rose-Hulman spring morning, 1988


People say that the best camera is the one you have with you, but I don’t go all the way in on that.

The camera I always have with me is my iPhone, first a 5 and now a 6s. Both have been fine for everyday snapshots — far better than any snapshot camera I owned even 10 years ago. I’ve even used them to take some pleasing artistic photos. But I muff one in 10 shots because they’re hard to hold steady. And the images go blotchy when I zoom in close. Also, their angle of view (about 60°) is too wide for the close work I like to do.

But before I go to work each morning I step into my garden to see what’s bloomed since yesterday. I pull my iPhone out of my pocket, snap a fresh bloom, and text it to Margaret for a quick morning smile.

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That’s what your phone’s camera is brilliant at: instantly sharing images of what you’re seeing and doing right now.

How useful! Margaret likes to grab selfies of us when we’re out and about to record the day’s memory. While we were in New York City earlier this year, I took several snaps with my iPhone to share on Facebook and to email to my mom in realtime. And when I come upon an old car parked, I pull out my phone and shoot the car from every angle so I can later write about the car for Curbside Classic.

I’ve read articles that wring their hands over how legions of photos on our phones will be lost because we don’t properly label and archive them. I’m not sure it matters for most of these of-the-moment photos. They’re much like these flowers: beautiful for the moment, but soon withered and fallen and swept away by the wind.


Beautiful for the moment, but soon withered and fallen and swept away by the wind


Purple tulips on my dining room table

Purple tulips on the dining table
Canon PowerShot S95


Early spring crocus

I wonder how many photographers can remember the moment when the bug hit. I can: this was it.

I had been shooting film on my early road trips, but processing costs were killing me. I figured that an inexpensive digital camera would save me a bundle over time. I chose the affordable Kodak EasyShare Z730 for its fine Schneider-Kreuznach lens.

Fooling around in the yard with my new camera, I photographed this fresh crocus. I was thrilled that the camera could focus so closely. I went right inside to look at the image at full size on my computer. I couldn’t believe the great detail it captured, and how well it rendered the purple petals. Why is purple so hard for many cameras to get right?

My curiosity was deeply triggered. I’d collected cameras since I was 9, but never before had the possibilities of photography itself captured my attention. I wanted to take more pictures to explore this camera’s limits. I wanted to renew my collection to explore other cameras. And so I did.

Early spring crocus • Kodak EasyShare Z730 • March, 2007


Favorite Photos Week: Early spring crocus