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Posts Tagged ‘iris’

A week ago I did a posting called Studio-like irises that featured photos of bearded irises shot against a background of a white foamcore board. This week on Thursday my photography mentor Cindy Dyer and I photographed some more of the irises in her garden, this time against a black background. Cindy had obtained some black velvet-like material with an adhesive backing that she affixed to the back of the white foamcore board. Normally this material is used for jewelry displays, but it worked perfectly to highlight the forms and colors of these beautiful flowers.

Here are a few selected shots from our little photoshoot. Although we had a consistent background, we were moving in and out of the sunlight and shadows and I had to constantly change mycamera settings—we even had a few raindrops fall on us while we were taking photos. Cindy and her husband have three cats and when I opened up my images in Photoshop I learned that velvet serves as a magnet for cat hair.

If you like the look of these shots, you should check out the posting that Cindy did on her blog that features seven fabulous photos, including several colorful iris species not shown below.

bearded iris

bearded iris

bearded iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Although I have grown to know most of the irises in the garden of my friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer, I don’t know their individual names. One iris that recently started blooming is so unusual and outrageous in appearance that I suspected that it was a special hybrid. I was bemused to learn that it is called the ‘Bewilderbeast’ bearded iris.

I love the way that Claire Austin described this striking hybrid iris on the Heritage Irises website, “This flower is a psychedelic mixture of colours, including maroon, mauve, and cream. These colours sit in rivers across the white background. The standards are muted in tone, and the thin beards are dark yellow.”

I tried photographing the iris with a natural background, which I prefer, and also with a piece of foamcore board. Do you prefer one image over the other?

Bewilderbeast iris

Bewilderbeast iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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You do not need to be in a studio to get a studio portrait look—all you need to do is to hold a piece of white cardboard or foamcore board behind the blooming flowers, such as these beautiful bearded irises in the garden of my friend Cindy Dyer. Cindy was gracious enough to hold the board for me and I returned the favor a few minutes later. Several viewers on my Facebook page commented that the style of these shots reminded them of botanical prints.

One of the challenges of shooting outdoors for shots like this was trying to get even lighting. I tweaked my settings in post-processing a bit to make the background as white as I dared, but did not go to the trouble of making the flowers and removing any slight shadows or color casts from the background.

bearded iris

bearded iris

bearded iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Yesterday my friend and photography mentor Cindy Dyer and I were photographing flowers in different parts of her garden when she excitedly called out to me that she had spotted a ladybug inside one of the irises. I rushed over and spotted a tiny Multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle (Harmonia axyridis) feverishly crawling around inside of a beautiful yellow bearded iris.

I had a mental picture of composing an image in which the viewer would looking from the outside into the interior of the flower.  That meant that I could not get too close to the ladybug. It also meant that the ladybug had to cooperate by crawling into the right part of the frame. I watched and waited and eventually was able to capture the kind of artsy image that I had imagined.

ladybug in iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A short while ago I did a posting of iris buds that offered a preview of coming attractions. Today I wanted to give you a quick look at some of the attractions that have already arrived. I like the yellow bearded irises that have started blooming in numbers, but I have to admit that I have really fallen in love with the violet one that is shown in the first photo below. It is the only one of its color that has opened so far, but there are several dozen more that should be appearing in the next week or two. I can hardly wait.

iris

iris

iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This beautiful dwarf bearded iris was almost hidden by the weeds and the undergrowth when I first discovered it early in April. Cindy, my neighbor in whose garden I have been taking flower photos this spring, recalls planting it a couple of years ago, but was a little surprised when I alerted her to it—she does nor remember seeing it bloom last year. The iris never grew very tall and was repeatedly been beaten down by the rain, but it was still strikingly beautiful.

There are so many different irises that specific cultivars are hard to identify. I looked through a lot of photos on-line, though, and think that I have identified it as a variety called “Love Bites.” Stout Gardens at Dancingtree described its characteristics in these words, “Rosy red standards over rich, dark carmine red falls with lavender beards” and added “Velvety carmine red falls with big lavender beards make this one a standout.”

I am curious about the name of the iris, because in my mind it can be interpreted in at least two different ways. Perhaps it refers to romantic little nibbles between lovers.  Maybe, though, it is a bitter commentary on love, an homage to the song by the same name by Def Leppard that ends with the words, “If you’ve got love in your sights, watch out, love bites. Yes it does, it will be hell.”

dwarf iris

dwarf iris

dwarf iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How much longer must I wait? That question has become a familiar refrain for most of us as our days of isolation and quarantine drag on endlessly. Sometimes it seems like time is standing still, yet there are hopeful signs that things are slowly improving.

I visit the garden of my neighbor, fellow photographer Cindy Dyer, almost every day, checking to see what has changed. Over the last month I have observed the growth of the leaves and stalks of a new crop of irises. A few of them have flowered and withered, but most of them are still buds, offering only a hint of their beauty that is yet to come.

Here are a few images that I captured on Thursday of iris buds of different shapes and colors, a preview of coming attractions.

iris buds

iris bud

iris bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most of the irises in the garden of my neighbor and photography mentor Cindy Dyer have not yet bloomed, but this one beautiful yellow bearded iris decided to jump ahead of the others. Most of the iris buds are on stems several feet high, but this blossom is only a few inches off of the ground—perhaps that is why it was an early bloomer.

If you look closely at the two shots, you will immediately notice that I took them on separate days. The light was quite different on each those days and there were raindrops present on the petals when I took the second shot. Additionally, I chose a very different shooting angle for each image and processed them to emphasize different aspects of the photo. I have a slight preference for the overall feel of the first shot, but love the raindrops in the second shot—I think the pair of images work well together in tandem.

 

yellow iris

yellow iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There were crowds of people at Huntley Meadows Park on Monday, a  holiday in the United States, but I managed to find some moments of serenity and solitude as I contemplated this skipper butterfly perched on a faded iris at the edge of a vernal pool off of the beaten path.

I may be a little selfish, I suppose, but I enjoy nature most when I don’t have to share it with others.


Skipper on iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Flowers are beautiful, of course, but when it comes to taking photos, I seem to be equally (or more) attracted to insects among the flowers. Yesterday we finally had some sunshine here in Northern Virginia after three soggy days in a row and I made a trip to Green Spring Gardens with my mentor Cindy Dyer to check out the flowers in bloom.

The wind was blowing most of the afternoon, which turned many of the flowers into moving targets, but patience and persistence allowed me to get some shots of some of my favorites, like love-in-a-mist and columbines. I am still going through my images, but I was immediately attracted to this shot of a bee in flight that I captured as it moved from one iris to another.

I remember being a little surprised to see a bee gathering pollen from irises—there seemed to be much candidates nearby, including some large, showy peonies. The bee didn’t spend long in each iris and the long petals of the iris often hid the bee from view. As I was tracking the bee, I somehow managed to maintain focus and captured this whimsical little shot of it in mid-air. My shutter speed of 1/640 sec was not fast enough to freeze the wings, but I really like the blur of the wings, which enhances the sense of motion for me.

bee and iris

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Is it just me, or does this iris make anyone else think of a rather elegant lady with a broad-brimmed hat? There is just something whimsical about the position of this rather ordinary flower that brings a smile to my face.

I don’t have my own garden, but fellow photographer and neighbor Cindy Dyer has all kinds of flowers in her garden. Her irises have just started to bloom and I walked by her townhouse recently and spotted this somewhat faded iris and took this shot.

iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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At this time of the year I love seeing irises growing in the wild at Huntley Meadows Park. I think these all are Blue Flag Irises (Iris versicolor), though I am not absolutely certain of this identification. These irises are not as big and showy as the ones growing in my neighbors’ gardens, but I find them to be equally beautiful.

Blue Flag Iris

Blue FLag Iris

Blue FLag Iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The past two weeks have been filled with intermittent rain and constant clouds, so I have not been able to chase dragonflies as I like to do at this time of year. The rain has been good for the flowers, however, and the garden of my photography mentor and neighbor Cindy Dyer is now full of beautiful bearded irises. Yesterday I attempted to capture some of the beauty of the purple ones in different stages of development. I particularly like the way the first image turned out, where the blurry image in the background gives a foretaste of the beauty that is to come when the bud opens up.

Speaking of Cindy Dyer, I was thrilled recently when I learned that another of her images will appear as a United States Postal Service (USPS) stamp. Her image of Sacred Lotuses at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens will be part of a 16-stamp series celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service. The series will be officially unveiled in New York City on June 2. Check out this announcement from the USPS for more information and to see her beautiful image.

purple iris

purple iris

purple iris

purple iris

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Like Paul Revere’s call in 1775, the cry went out in early May, “The cicadas are coming, the cicadas are coming.” After 17 years in the ground, the cicadas of Brood II  (Magicicada septendecim) were coming back in force. The Washington Post ran a story with the sensationalist headline of Bug-phobic dread the looming swarm of Brood II cicadas” and hysteric anticipation gripped the metro D.C. area.

Like most of the snowstorms forecast in this area, the invasion of the cicadas has been underwhelming. I had not seen a single cicada until I traveled to Manssas, VA for a cookout and the got to see and hear a large number of these scarey-looking insects. Apparently we are past the peak moments, but the noise in some places was just short of deafening and there were some bushes that were covered with the giant insects.

I was struck by the contrast between the fierce look of this cicada and the delicate beauty of the purple iris on which he was perched.

beast1_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I was pleasantly surprised to come across a group of irises in one of the marshy areas of Huntley Meadows Park, the nature center where I do a lot of my shooting.

It probably reveals my ignorance about flowers, but I had no idea that irises could grow in such moist conditions. Although the irises were smaller and less showy than many of the cultivated ones that I see, they were no less beautiful.

It had been raining intermittently the morning that I took this photo and you can see drops of water on some of the petals. I tried very carefully to frame this image and am pretty happy with the way that it turned out, with the blurry image of a second iris in the background repeating the shape and color of the iris in the foreground.

swamp_iris_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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