Monday, November 18, 2013

Gratitude, With a Side of Milkweed

I posted recently on Maraca (my other blog) that I had become bored with photography lately and asked for advice. Truth be told, I was about to give it up, at least for a while. Among the great responses was this one from Barb at From the World Lens Photography: "Challenge yourself to 'take the picture you've never taken'. That's what I do sometimes, and I don't allow myself to switch to another subject until I've really, really explored the first one."

Well, I have taken a zillion random, so-so shots of milkweed in the field, and I was at it again on Sunday when those words came back to me.  I realized I had never brought milkweed inside, where I had better control of it. It's always seemed kind of wrong to me, doing nature photography indoors, capturing or cutting things down in order to photograph them. But desperate times call for desperate measures. I gathered a few pods and set up the rarely-used light box. Here's what happened:

At first the seeds formed a core, packed tightly as a pinecone, wrinkled and brown.

Milkweed 7

As the warmth of the light began to dry out the pod, the seeds began to wake and rise, like ghosts lifting from their  shared shroud, trailing white satin.  I had to work quickly from there, they were changing so rapidly. But it was time to think about starting dinner.

Another comment came back to me then, from NatureFootstep at Catching the Light: "Most important, take the image when you see it. Never wait - then it is gone."

Right. Sorry, Hubby. The Shot waits for no one.

Milkweed 6

Who would guess, from the blowsy mass of  tangled white cotton we usually see, that milkweed seeds are actually arranged in orderly rows, each layer waiting patiently for its turn to rise and fly.

Milkweed 5

With no wind to blow them free, their silks continued to balloon, barely holding on, sending more and more strands up to the sky, like ships raising their sails.

Milkweed 3

A simple change of perspective revealed an entirely new kind of "flower", one perhaps nobody has ever noticed before.

Milkweed 2

And just like that, in the space of a couple of hours, the thrill was back. And yes, Barb, I'll keep working with these until I've exhausted all the possibilities.

So thanks, Barb and NatureFootstep - and thanks to Karen, Sylvia and Colleen for your suggestions too, and to all who posted such encouraging comments. And thanks to you, Michelle, for hosting this meme!

All of you keep me going, in more ways than you know.

      For more Nature Notes, join Michelle at Rambling Woods.


Rambling Woods said...

I am sorry that I missed that post as you are such a great photographer and it would be a loss.... These are amazing photos Vicki..... Michelle

Leora said...

You did a great study of the milkweed. You certainly have a good eye for photography. I just do it for fun, although sometimes I think I should take a course and buy a new camera just to get even better at it. Maybe some day.

Barb said...

Wow, wow and WOW!!! These are just delightful, Vicki. So crisp and sharp, too. Did you bust out your macro lens? I would think you have most definitely got the shot you've never taken. Isn't it fun when you really get into the zone with your camera? Keep it up!

MyMaracas said...

Thanks, Michelle and Laura! I just do it for fun too. I would like to take a course or two as well, but can't really justify the expense.

Barb, I don't own a macro lens. I have a Canon G9 point and shoot that lets me get about half an inch from the subject, and that's the first three. The other two were done with a 50mm on my Rebel and heavily cropped. It is indeed fun to go where you've never gone before - thanks again for the nudge into new territory!

NatureFootstep said...

OMG, I´m impressed. You really did put two good advices into stunning work. I´m glad I told you not to wait, Now we all know how beautiful milkweed really is.

I don´t think you need to go to class. You are a good photographer. You only have to learn how to see things. If you need to learn go to the library or search for photographic stuff on the internet. I´ll let you know about the sheet. Might psot tonight for tomorrows NF Abstract.
I hope your husband was delighted too. :)


What a terrific challenge you've shared and accomplished. Artfully done, and so great the detailing!!!

Anonymous said...

I love your camera work. Great job and inspiring too. Dianne

Gunilla B├Ąck said...

Excellent work! These are all gorgeous.

Karen said...

These are splendid!

EG CameraGirl said...

Very, VERY nice photos! You don't need to take a photography course. You've got talent.

Betty Luckhurst said...

I can see why you got excited about photos again! Wow!

MyMaracas said...

Again, thanks to all of you for your support, and for your kind comments. It is greatly appreciated!

MyMaracas said...

Nature - The Hubby was impressed with the one that looks like a flower, and he didn't mind at all eating leftovers. He's a keeper that way.

eileeninmd said...

Wow, these are beautiful images! I agree with the others above, you have talent. Have a great day!

Laura said...

Absolutely gorgeous photos!

Carver said...

These shots are fantastic.

aprille said...

What a treat. I wish we had that growing over here in the UK. I have always admired other people's milkweed seed pictures, but this series of unfolding is exceptional.

MyMaracas said...

Aprille, they are a bit big and weedy when they're not in flower or producing seeds. I love them anyway.