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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Lemons To Lemonade

Every summer I make my ‘pilgrimage’ to Jennings Environmental Education Center to see the annual blooming of the Blazing Stars (Liatris spicata), which grow naturally on this glacially carved prairie in the middle of the rolling hills of Western Pennsylvania. Alas, this year the bloom seems limited, and the flowers that were in bloom seemed mainly further out on the prairie, as opposed to being accessible near the trail. While it is possible that the larger portion of the bloom is yet to come (typical peak bloom is the mid to end of July and the beginning of August), I suspect that, for whatever reason, this year is simply not going to be a banner year for them.

Rather than lament the lack of Blazing Stars along the trail, I decided to photograph what was accessible to me. Only after getting home and doing an internet search did I think I identified this plant. I believe it is Yellow Foxtail (Setaria pumila).

At any rate, the foxtail itself was not overly attractive in its immediate surrounding, so I ended up layering in a texture. Even then the photograph looked as if it needed something additional, so I took another image of the Blazing Stars in the distance that I had made on the same morning, sized it appropriately, and layered it into the button of the photo. That gave me the result I was after.

 
Yellow Foxtail © Howard Grill

Yellow Foxtail © Howard Grill

 

In terms of what the Blazing Stars look like, I will share a photo of them I took a couple years back, from right along the trail:

 
Blazing Stars © Howard Grill

Blazing Stars © Howard Grill

 

Iris

During my April trip to Georgia, the group I was with went to visit the Callaway Gardens Chapel In The Woods, a very peaceful location.  A few purple irises were growing at the edge of the water just in front of the chapel. I spent a good deal of time working on the camera position to try to get a background that didn't detract from the beautiful simplicity of the flower.

Working to get a good composition and a clean background can really make or break a photograph. I like the results I got in this composition.  I positioned the camera relatively high so that the water behind and in the distance from the flower would serve as a clean background. The focal length of the lens was 300mm (using my 100-400 zoom) which was able to blur any details in the water because of the limited depth of field at 300mm, even at f8. The sky was blue and thus the water itself had a bluish tonality, complementing the flower.

 

 
 

Trout Lily

One of the wildflowers that I seem to have missed in years past is the trout lily. They are quite small, which is one reason I may have missed them, but they also have beautiful speckled leaves.  This year I was a bit early, as they were out, but the flowers had not yet fully opened.  However, even closed they possess a very dainty beauty.  They are a bit tough to photograph on their long stalks with the flowers drooped downwards, as the slightlest breeze makes them bounce all over. It was this constant movement that made me want to make a photo with a shallow depth of field, which I felt would impart that feeling of motion by blurring most of the flower but still show the delicateness by leaving a small area of the plant sharp.  The connection of the stalk to the flower seemed to me to be the best area to focus on.

Trout Lily