My goal is to capture the best looking blooms. However I'm not looking for perfection. This is nature, and it's my garden so there isn't going to be perfection. Perfection looks fake. I want to capture what it really looks like on a good day - not something you find inside a seed catalog.. I got plenty of those. To that end I'm looking for a day with little to no wind. I need a time when the lighting is good. Early morning or early evening is best for that 'Golden Hour'. I find morning works better for me. I'm not racing against a setting sun that is often blocked by our house. Bright afternoon sunlight is too harsh to work with unless there are light diffused clouds, or I can recreate those light clouds with a scrim.
I have used every lens in my arsenal from 10mm to 300mm. They each have their uses. No surprise, my go-to lens in 2021 was my Sony 30mm Macro lens. A Macro will let you get very close to the blooms. I bought it for flowers and copy work. I usually shoot at ISO 400 at ƒ8.0 in Aperture Priority Mode; checking that my shutter speed is high enough to deal with any wind. Even a slight wind can ruin a photo if the bloom is small enough. Occasional I will adjust the F-stop lower if I need a shallow depth of field. (It forces the background out of focus.) I also shoot RAW rather than JPEG because I always edit the photos later.
When mom was alive I use to pester her about naming her flowers. She started using metal and plastic tags. However plants die, tags fade and fall off in the sun. While weeding and deadheading I would occasionally find missing tags. I made a map of the gardens and constantly updated it. I also had mom's garden journals, which help identify certain varieties. I'm sure there are errors, but hopefully not too many. I appreciate any help I get! Thanks to the members of the Fargo Garden Society and my neighbors for their help this year. -Craig
0312 At the kitchen window both Orchids were in bloom. I wait until 11 am., so I can take advantage of the sun. The Orchids' thin petals glow with back-lighting.
0422 Ash Trees removed 9 photos. Cougar Tree Service arrives at 8:30 am. They start cutting down my boulevard Ash Trees. Once they set the orange street cones, they start cutting at 8:50. I photograph with my 85mm lens and my cellphone. At 9:30 the clean-up truck arrives along with the harmony of a second chainsaw. I use the porch to shoot up against the sky, and the second floor window to shoot down on the claw.
0424 Orchid, Ash & Apple Trees photos. Yesterday I cut down the old Apple Tree. Tree Rings. 85mm Sony Lens again.
0528 Spring Flowers 14 photos. I wait until 10 am., when the sun clears the neighbor's trees to photographed some of the flowers that are in bloom with my 85mm lens. In another hour the sun will be too harsh.
0601 Spring Flowers 11 photos. 9 am., I photograph the blooming Allium and Irises with my 85mm lens. I keep the sun at my back.
0603 Spring Flowers 7 photos with 30mm Sony Macro lens. 7:50 am., the sun pokes through the trees, I use the shadows in my photographs of: Clematis, Iris, and Allium plants.
0605 Spring Flowers 11, 30mm photos. It's 10:20 am., under partly cloudy skies, which helps diffuse the light, but not so overcast that the lighting becomes flat. I photograph new blooms: roses, peonies, and an orange Oriental Poppy.
0612 Spring Flowers 5 photos. At 10:11 am., bright sun, I photograph the Winnipeg Park rose bush and the Blue Queen Salvia plant with my 30mm.
0617 Fargo Tree Service 2 photos. 11 am., The boulevard trees across the street are trimmed under party cloudy skies. 10-20mm Sigma Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens, and 85mm lens.
0621 Spring Flowers 2 photos. At 8:58 am., catch the sun through their rose petals with my 30mm.
0629 Spring Flowers 26 photos with 30mm lens. I photograph various blooms the Southwest Garden (SWG) and Main South Garden (MSG) at 10:45 am., in bright sun. I bring out a white photographic umbrella to use as a Scrim - it cuts the sun's brightness and brings details out of the shadows.
0710 Summer Flowers 46 photos. Many flowers are starting to bloom and it’s calm out. I need to take photos on the flowers’ schedule and not my own. (9:41–10:22 am., with some nice light.) Use my 30mm Macro lens and a spray bottle to give petals that fresh dew look.
0715 Summer Flowers 49 photos at 10:16–10:40 am. After I deadhead and weed, I photograph new blooms. Many of the smaller flowers need the close-up resolution the 30mm Macro lens is designed for.
0721 Summer Flowers 25 photos with the 30mm Macro lens. From 6:22-6:42 am., I photograph new blossoms: big and small. The roses and lilies are still wet from the rain. The light is diffused from the remaining clouds: excellent.
0726 Summer Flowers 10 photos. Photo the lilies from 8:14 to 8:21 pm., I want the west sun during 'Golden Hour' for these blooms. I'm shooting long with my Sony 75-300mm zoom lens to compress the composition.
0729 Summer Flowers 3 photos. Repeat the next day at 6:28 pm., with the sun a little higher in the sky; pointed right at the MSG.
0817 Late Summer Flowers 90 photos with the 30mm, from 10:22-10:52 am. I deadhead a lot of the garden(s) Veronica and Phlox, and trim the brown tips off the Iris leaves. I photograph anything that is still in bloom.. before it dies. Thin high clouds yield a nice diffused lighting. The the wind is under 10 mph! (Usual for Fargo)
0911 Autumn Flowers 41 photos. 6:02-6:32 pm. It’s cloudy, but I want a flat-diffused light to photograph mom’s gardens from above. I use a monopod, cable release, and Sigma 10–20mm ultra-wide zoom for some overhead shots of the gardens. I also photograph the blooming flowers: roses, sedum, Hydrangea, and apple tree.
0916 Autumn Flowers 37 photos. 10:13-10:33 am. I photograph flowers with the Sony 30mm Macro Lens. Some huge rose blooms in the bright sun. (In September the sun is much lower than June.)
0925 Autumn Flowers 88 photos. I photograph the fall flowers under cloudy skies and little to no wind. 9-10 am. 30mm Macro lens. Chrysanthemum, Roses, Sedum, and Zinnias are the stars of the gardens.
0926 Autumn Flowers 15 photos. 5:09-6:36 pm., front yard with the setting sun. 30mm lens.
0929 Vegetable Harvest 2 photos. Carrots and beans in the kitchen.
1005 Autumn Flowers 17 photos with a 30mm lens. At 2:40-2:50 pm., the sun isn’t quite in position to illuminate the front yard roses and mums. It's filtered through the neighbor's trees and it’s a tad too windy.
1006 Autumn Flowers 7 photos with a 30mm Macro lens. 11:42-11:45 am., Roses and Mums. The sun is from the opposite side today.
1011 Altar Flowers 2 photos shot inside with the 30mm lens. "The altar flowers in the Sanctuary today (10/10) are given in loving memory of Charlotte Maas, from Craig Maas and Suzanne Dobbins." -First Lutheran Church bulletin.
1018 Sunset 1, 30mm photo at 6:40 pm. The sun has set for 2021.
1022 Flower vases 2 photos. While cutting the gardens back for winter, I rescued these blooms and put them in vases. 30mm shot inside.
1029 Trees in sunlight 2, 30mm photos of the backyard trees turning colors.
1107 Spider silk in lawn 3, 30mm photos. At 5:00 CDT, (4 pm) the sun is beginning to set, spider silk covers the entire front yard. It glistens in the sun.
1108 Winter Flowers 13, 30mm photos from 12:25-12:33 CDT. Hard to believe anything has color this late in the season. I was surprised to see Delphinium and Clematis blooming.
All these flowers are mom's. Except the Zinnias.. I planted those this year.
© Craig Maas