Category Archives: Flowers

Dancing in Death

The French call them natures mortes, but I don’t see them as dead. And we call them still lives, but, to be honest, I don’t think they look still either. I think they’re dancing…

 

Slide to the right...

Swaying to the right…

 

Slide to the left...

Groove to the left…

 

My hostas are going over – it’s the time of year – but their skeletons are full of movement. A last hurrah before the cold comes in. Beautiful, right to the end.

Waves and folds

Waves and folds

 

and a final twirl...

and a final twirl…


Just goes to show – you never can tell!

It’s not quite the done thing to blow your own trumpet. Nor would I usually post an image that I’d already posted. But today I’m breaking the rules, and toot tooting my horn. I entered a photo competition last year, and the results came out yesterday – and my pic has done quite well…

Spring pathway, Swaledale

Spring pathway, Swaledale. Highly Commended

The International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY) covers 8 categories & gets 20,000+ entries from all over the globe. So I went in for the Wildflower Landscapes section and entered 4 pictures. The odd thing is I was sure the 3 other pics were better than the one above – it was almost a throw-away last choice – but this was the one the judges went for. Highly commended was the comment, and by heck, I’m chuffed!

These are the 3 I was more convinced about:

buttercups, red clover, cranesbill

Swaledale buttercups, red clover, cranesbill

Walking through God's county

Walking through God’s county

Meadows, walls, moors

Meadows, walls, moors

If you get the chance, the IGPOTY exhibition is on at Kew Gardens until 30th March – the images are stunning when printed up nice and large. Exquisite. Or check out the website: http://www.igpoty.com/competition07/winners.asp?parent=winners

Just goes to show you never can tell, and that you should always try. Who knows what will happen?!


Spring is sprung, at last

At last, the blackthorn is in full bloom! One of the sights of spring. This year it’s late, of course, but better late then never.

Hawthorne in all its splendour

Blackthorn in all its splendour

I’ve been to take photographs in this spot every year for the last decade or so. It’s become a ritual. Part of my spring.

against the light

against the light

Early morning is best. The dew is still on the grass, occasionally still frost. But the sun lights up the bushes and they glow.

detail

detail

The flowers have a delicate scent, again, best experienced on a bright early Sunday morning.

vanishing point

vanishing point

The dog walkers were out in force this morning. Even in some pretty remote fields I was bumping into people frequently. Everybody is so relieved that the weather is finally improving – a chance to get out into the fresh air.

gap in the hedgerow

gap in the hedgerow

detail

detail

Even so, hang around too long and the inevitable happens. Mind you, a shower makes for a good photograph!

caught by the storm

caught by the storm


Woodland in Blue

Last weekend was dreary. I didn’t want to get out of bed. Cocooning warmth vs the eternal drizzle of the wettest spring in decades. But then the inner voice – “you’ve got to go to the Bluebell wood today, because next weekend it will all be gone!” So I dragged myself out of bed, and thank God I did….

The farmer planted rape this year – he’s a colour artist

A the vibrant zing of contrasting colours. In a weird way the incessant mizzling makes the colours leap out even more. The woodland is an enchanting place. No other people around, but the wildlife seems to be erupting everywhere. A cacophony of sound – mainly from the birds; within 15 minutes I’ve seen deer, fox, pheasant, kites, squirrels and rabbits.

stitched panorama

In fact, I think I’ve disturbed the fox. He’s clearly more intent on the pheasant than on me. And once the pheasant explodes into the air, cracking wings and squawking in panic, I swear the fox gives me a disgusted look as he lopes off into the undergrowth.

Woodland track

Having ruined the fox’s breakfast, I then manage to disturb the deer too. In the middle of the wood, surrounded by bluebells, a young deer. Being the advanced photographer that I am, I have the camera switched off, wrong lens, and have to put down tripod and backpack gear before I can raise camera to eye. By that time – no deer anymore. Ah well, that’s one that got away…

Blue star

Even the kite, screeching away as he circles over the wood, seems to mock my efforts to photograph the wildlife. So, thank heavens the flowers can’t move! In contrast to all the fauna, the flora revels in posing for the camera. To the benefit of the enchanted wood! Ah, the warm bed might entice with its soft folds. But that is a momentary pleasure easily forgotten. My morning in the enchanted wood… That will stay with me forever.

Bluebells and rape field

If you liked this post, then try out:

Blue is the colour

Dick Turpin in Epping Forest


Mother-in-law’s poison!

Little did I realise, when my mother-in-law came for dinner, that she had brought poison into the house!

Ranunculus – beware…

These deadly plants – if you eat them – are growing in her garden. So, she brought a posey to put on our dining table. And very colourful they are. But pretty dangerous too….

Beautiful and deadly

This is not the plant you want to eat. (Not that we were planning on eating it – Roast duck actually with a fine Rhone wine, cooked by Mrs P no less!) I take it on good authority that there is an acrid taste, intense blistering to the mouth. Ingesting will cause excessive salivation and bloody diarrhoea…!

What a pink!

blinding yellow!

Beauty often hides a darker side. Lured in, captivated and entranced, only to be stung. Such is the power of deceptive plants…

hooded and hidden heart

Vicious fiery intensity

No respite in that poisonous green

So, poison from the garden, placed meekly in the vase on the dining table. From the mother-in-law! And who would know this dangerous plant’s common name? Ranunculus = the buttercup!

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Every cloud has a silver lining…


Frothy White Easter

The Easter weekend – time to celebrate that Spring has sprung! The hawthorne is out 3 weeks earlier than usual this year, and it looks as spectacular as ever.

The hawthorne blossom

A fluffy delight.

Epping Forest bursts back into life

Wake Valley Pond

Epping Forest country lane

The hawthorne is pretty difficult to photograph – I’m never really satisfied with my shots. But I keep trying, every year. And regardless of the final images, I get a strong sense that Spring is here, bubbling over in its frothy whiteness. Gorgeous! Bring on the warmer weather!!!


Tango in Argentina

Now, I have a good friend in Buenos Aires, and he sent me a facebook message the other day saying: nice blog, but where are the pictures from Argentina? And he was quite right. So Daniel, here they are for you!

Street tango

A real vibrancy to the city, epitomised of course by the street dancing. And spectacular they are too. All clickety click heels and flashing skirts. The men were men, and the women most definitely women.

Apparently I had turned up at a quiet moment…. What it must be like on a hot Saturday night! Steamy, at a guess….

(this was about 11 in the morning...)

you have to imagine the accordion in the background

Once I managed to tear myself away from the dancers I had a bit of a nose around. Very different flora and fauna in Sth America:

Street vendor

And one of the most frequented visiting spots in the city was the graveyard. Most people wanted to see Evita’s tomb. I got wrapped up in the amazing statuary.

It'll happen to us all, eventually

Soft stone hands

But enough of the morbid stuff. Take a look at some of the other statues around the city!

Make your own mind up...

And this is a giant metal flower that opens and closes for the sun.

(it's huge)

(and very dramatic)

Get back to the tango I hear you shout! Of course, if there’s a dance going then I want to have a go. And indeed we all did. Here’s Daniel, taking his first steps, tentative and nervous, with his Tango Mistress.

Come on Daniel, courage!

As the night wears on, his feet get faster and faster.

(to be honest, I don't think that's Daniel anymore)

OK, Daniel wasn’t much good. And frankly neither was I. Better leave it to the pros, who make it effortless and dreamy:

Ta Dah!


Frothy Blackthorn in Epping Forest

You know that winter is truly over when the Blackthorn explodes into blossom:

The hedgerows look amazing, a mass of frothy, bubble white, on the edge of the forest. But quite difficult to photograph, as I discovered last Sunday morning at about 7.30, as the first sun was coming up.

The problem is how to get a distinct picture. Go wide, and all you see is an indistinct white blob. So you need to go close and focus in on the blossom flowers themselves. But then the slightest wind and you get a lot of blur. Not easy.

These flowers are tiny, maybe the size of a 5p piece, no more. So once the camera is on the tripod, the macro lens fully extended, focus and composition decided, then the mere whisper of a breeze and everything’s messed up. Even at the stillest moment of the day I think a ratio of 5 blurred shots to 1 in focus. Gentle rocking back and forth on the tripod.

It may have been quite still, but quiet it was not. The birds were in full voice, cackling, warbling, trilling, flirting with each other. Almost deafening. The forest and the hedgerows are alive and kicking! Spring, at last.


Amaryllis photo shoot, Epping, Sunday afternoon

Spring is sprung, at last, and the flowers are beginning to bloom. Which is such a relief after the grim grey of the last few months. And when the flowers come out, I like to grab my camera. Here’s my first effort from earlier today. An Amaryllis that I’ve got in a pot in the kitchen.

Bursting out.

This is quite an amazing plant. The stem is about half a metre long already, and still growing strong. The flowers will be large and bold. Amaryllis isn’t shy about coming forward!

But is colour the right way to show this flower…? I wonder if black and white doesn’t actually make it even more impressive – as a picture that is? Here’s a shot of the same plant, same time, same camera, same lighting conditions etc. I’ve just converted this into b&w. Ok, so now we don’t get the spring colours…, but is the photo more aesthetically pleasing as a picture? Is it more unusual? Does the removal of colour move the photo from a simple depiction of what’s there, to an interpretation of the flower? Does b&w move the picture from the real to the interpretative, more ‘arty’?

Unopened bud.

Let me know which one you like the best, and why!


If it’s not good enough, you’re not close enough! Macro Flowers.

I’ve just been going back through my files. It’s really weird to look back at what I was photographing 10 years ago. My first real subject was flowers, and close up at that. I got quite passionate about flowers, I guess I still am, and I loved taking my time, getting in really close, using the macro lens and a tripod, and trying to capture form, colour, shape, texture and line.

A common-or-garden poppy

Amazing, I think, that such beauty exists all around us, in the most ordinary things, and that we usually just pass them by without really noticing them. But that is exactly what photography forces you to do: to look, closely. The most common things become quite breath-taking. Here’s another poppy:

Another back garden poppy

There were 2 photographers who were inspirational when it came to flowers. The first is Clive Nichols, whose book New Shoots, is very much the style that I’ve copied here. The second is Robert Mapplethorpe, who is known for a quite different lens subject matter. When you realise that he died in the 90s in New York from Aids you’ll get a sense of what scene he was best known for. His pictures are truly superb, and his black and white flower photos are exquisite. Check out his book ‘Pistils’. I don’t have his eye, or his skill, yet. But I’m working towards it. In the meantime, here are a few Ranunculii:

Yellow ranunculus

These flower heads are actually quite small. About the size of a 50 pence piece. The macro lens brings all that glorious colour and form right up close and perspective is quite lost. I rather like the abstract nature of the pic above, creamy egg yolk on top of fiery layers of gold leaf paper. Delicious.

Here’s a more realistic pic of the same genus:

Yellow ranunculus, head on.

Get in contact if you ever want a print to go on a bedroom, lounge, dining room wall (I know that some people have even got my flower pics in the loo!) I probably have a flower to match any colour scheme…

And let me know if you like the photos – you can subscribe to the blog using the button on the right hand side. Cheers!