Flowers Around the Yard This Week: Close-ups

I have to look hard to find flowers around our yard. We do not have green thumbs here. Too, everything that we think is growing nicely gets mowed down by the deer. There's a well-worn deer path along the edge of our property, between the lawn and the woods.  We've even seen fox and coyotes following the path.

I do keep any eye out while I'm mowing the lawn. It gives me a chance to survey the land.  When I find something, I'll turn off the mower and go into the house to grab a camera.

Around the yard, I've been shooting mostly with the Olympus EM-1 and Panasonic 14-140 super zoom lens, with its fantastically convenient 1:2 equivalent macro and a focal range that "does it all". Sometimes I swap for the Olympus 60mm macro because of the focus stacking capability this lens has on the EM-1 body (8 shots automatically stacked). Oh, and for the shallowest depth of field I use an old manual focus Tamron 90mm macro on a Sony a6000 camera body.

Here are my favorites from the last week.

Best narrow depth of field is with the Sony a6000 and 90mm Tamron macro.


New fern. This is what happens soon after a fiddlehead opens and unfolds.

Our first iris of the season greeted me earlier this week. 

I saw a couple of these peeking out from under the holly bush at the corner of the house. Maybe the deer won't find them *chuckle*. My best guess is that this is a Bloody Geranium (*Geranium Sanguineum*)

A couple of new phlox buds

Our lilac bushes are flowering and smelling great.

We all know what this is lol. It's hard for me to think of a dandelion as beautiful, especially when it's in the process of “going to seed” on our lawn. But close up it really is so beautiful and intricate …. and so geometric. 

Nature's Perfection... Late afternoon and a back-lit leaf. A brand new maple leaf hanging from our Royal Red Norway (?) maple...as perfectly formed as nature allows.  It's so fresh and new that there are yet no caterpillar bites out of it, though I do see a bit of caterpillar silk in the lower left.


For a Fleeting Moment Only: While Mowing the Lawn

At about 6pm a few days ago I was mowing the lawn in our... by then... shaded side yard, when I noticed the sun shining low through the trees and perfectly and beautifully back-lighting the fresh new maple leaves on this one particular tree, adding a rich golden color. 

I'm not sure what kind of maple tree we have here.  In normal light, the mature leaves are a dark red-brown. The leaves seen here are new growth and are a bit lighter in color and thinner. They have a waxy surface, too, that disappears later in the season. 

One discovery I made while framing this image (and of course a bunch of others I discarded) is that each bud on the tree, when it burst open, first released four leaves, followed by two additional leaves.  My math is still good...that's six leaves per bud. I found that interesting. We've lived here over ten years and I've never noticed that before. Cameras help us discover, don't you think?  

Photo taken with Olympus EM-1 and Panasonic 14-140 zoom. 


More Close Ups with the Panasonic 14-140

I'm shooting here with the Panasonic 14-140 on the Olympus E-M1.

This lens is the newer of the two Panasonic 14-140's.  Maximum aperture is F3.5 to F5.6. I purchased it in December and have found it to be great for closeups.  It has a 1:2 (35mm camera equivalent) maximum magnification.  That's very adequate for flowers and is accomplished at a focusing distance of about 20" when zoomed between 22 and 140mm.

I like the lens paired with the Olympus E-M1 because I am enjoying the focus bracketing feature that recently became available on the E-M1 with the latest firmware.  Images #2 and #3 were focus bracketed with up to 10 images and stacked with Zerene Stacker.)

Nothing particularly great here.  We've been having a patch of cold and dreary weather.  So between raindrops today I took about 10 minutes and walked around outside our home looking for things to snap.

All of these were taken at wide open aperture.


My first walk through Acton Arboretum

As suggested by a high school friend whose home abuts this beautiful 65 acre public resource in the town of Action, Massachusetts, I spend a couple of hours roaming around last weekend with my close up photography tools and a fold up stool.

I stuck to the wildflower garden area. The main walkways in the wildflower garden were paved about 3' wide and there were also a few dirt path short cuts. The access for wheel chairs and baby carriages was excellent.  It was great to see so many people enjoying the nice weather.

All of the images below were taken with an Olympus E-M1 and Panasonic 14-140 "travel zoom". I shot with the lens wide open at F3.5 to F5.6 depending on the focal length.  I bought this lens in December and love it, though I have not reported on it here on my blog yet.  My sense it that it is plenty sharp enough, though not as sharp over common focal lengths as the very nice Olympus 12-40mm F2.8.  And of course it is not as fast at the 12-40. But it is certainly quite versatile and has great close up capabilities as you can see below. It provides basically a 1:3 equivalent macro.  That's generally quite adequate for flowers. However, for the mosquito image I snapped onto the end of the lens a Raynox 150 two piece acromatic filter so as to acquire a 1:1 macro.

Any cropping was just to enhance the composition. I have no complaints about sharpness of this lens for close up work.

Thank you Bruce Carley for helping with the identifications.

Wood Poppy Flowers

White Trillium

Spring Beauty

Squirrel Corn

Fern Unfolding

Red Trillium

Wood Poppy

Double-Flowered Bloodroot

Fuzzy antennae = male mosquito


My Favorite Coffee Mug...With Flash Plus Ambient Light

I took this picture while...well, drinking coffee. It was in the morning last weekend, and I was sitting on the porch playing around with the settings on my Sony a6000.  It's pretty hard to play with camera settings without taking a picture or two. (Over the years I have taken a ton of pictures of my feet on our coffee table!)

Perhaps a coffee mug photo is a silly thing to post here... though I did get some nice comments when I posted the image on my Instagram and Facebook pages (by the way, there are more than 2,500 posts on Instagram with #favoritecoffeemug.)

This mug came from my mom's house when I was cleaning it out after she passed away a few years ago. The loop is perfect for the first two fingers of my right hand and my thumb appreciates the flat top of the loop. The shape is nice too.  With a low center of gravity its less likely to be knocked over when I am fumbling for it while reading my iPad in the morning. Perhaps theoretically the shape holds heat longer than a mug with a wide opening. I like the three shades of color (assuming you accept beige as a worthy color). The ridging at the top is functional as well as good looking. When I reach with my left hand and grip the mug with my full hand (I just ignore the loop), my first finger neatly wraps around the groove at the top. Any disadvantages?  Yes, it doesn't hold enough coffee! Lol.


I used my Sony a6000 with 30mm Sigma prime at F2.8. Metz i40 flash was bounced up 45° from horizontal, and swiveled 120° to the right of forward.  I love the way the Sony works with flash: When using TTL it automatically balances half ambient light with half flash.  Since I use auto ISO, it does the balancing act by cutting the ISO to half of what it would use for ambient light only.


Tulips and Daffodils at the Botanic Garden Last Weekend: 5 Images

All taken with the Panasonic 14-140 mm (28-280 equivalent) "travel" zoom. This lens has fantastic closeup capabilities.  Not quite macro, but close to 1:2 equivalent...though even that was not quite necessary for these images.

A Nice Little Surprise on the Way to the Botanic Garden

Last weekend I headed for the botanic garden for a couple of hours of shooting and walking. I entered the gate, pleased that we'd renewed our one-year pass, and was motoring slowly along the long driveway when I spied a group of wild turkeys.

As I recall there was one male and several females.  The male was definitely showing off.

I stopped the car and fortunately had a long zoom attached to my camera.  I did get a few shots of the turkeys in the field next to the car.  However, my favorite shot was this "attitude" shot taken as the male crossed the road in front of me and headed into the woods on the other side, following the females.

I posted the image on my Instagram and Facebook pages, with the title: "Struttin' Swagger".  It's fun to think of titles for photos.  I'm thinking better titles might be:

Struttin' Some Stuff

Showing Some Attitude

I like the fact that the turkey is in the middle of the road, looking ready to stop all traffic while he struts his stuff slowly across to the other side.

I personally think that the above image makes a better story than the "natural" images I took of him displaying in the field.  That being said, below is the best shot I was able to get of him in the field.

(Both of these images were taken zoomed to 280mm (equiv) and wide open at F5.6 on my Panasonic 14-140 "travel" zoom.  Shutter at 1/320 and ISO at base 200.)