09.09.2014 All of me…why not take all of me?

My holy grail for the late summer is the Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita).  If I find one you will see why.  Or maybe you already have seen them and know why.  However, the calendar says it is still a bit early but the Meadow Bottle Gentian (Gentiana clausa) aka Closed Gentian is in full bloom and I did happen upon some this past Sunday at Chesterfield Gorge (also a Trustees of Reservations property) in Chesterfield, MA.  I state MA because there is a Chesterfield Gorge in NH too. As my MO describes my images as mostly from within 50 miles of home I thought I would mention this.

These flowers are fully open.  To pollinate the flowers, very fit and burly little insects must force their way through the closed petals to do the deed.  I may not be an arachnophobe, but I am a claustrophobe and this would not be my chosen profession were I an insect. 🙂

Quite often I close in for an intimate portrait of flowers, insects etc. and I did that here.  But I thought I would show two shots with one being from enough of a distance to show the majority of the plant.  Hence the title…more about that at the finish.

This one contains a torn leaf and busy background.  I was able to soften the contrast in the background with some targeted adjustments (mentioned for David) which helps the flower itself to step a little forward while still allowing for good detail in the bloom at f/5.6 @1/4 sec.  I should also mention that the leaves were very wet from the overnight dew and I dried them off with a handkerchief to kill the strong reflective glare in addition to using a circular polarizer.Meadow-bottle-Gentian-2-090714-600WebAs is my habit, I try to eliminate as much distraction as possible in a portrait, or any other image for that matter, so I moved in closer.Meadow-bottle-Gentian-1-090714-600WebYou will notice the change in color tone coming from the sun starting to shine through the trees.  This is a bit tidier and puts all the emphasis on the 7 little bottles.  I wanted the flower to be the only element, so I stayed at f/5.6 but did a series of fourteen 1/8 sec. exposures starting with the focus at the front tip of the closest leaf and proceeding to the rear leaf tip.  I don’t often stack images, but gave it a shot and I think it worked out ok.  I tried both Helicon Focus and Photoshop’s stacking functionality and preferred the job Photoshop did.

Which do you prefer?

As for the title….


About Steve Gingold

I am a Nature Photographer with interests in all things related. Water, flowers, insects and fungi are my main interests but I am happy to photograph wildlife and landscapes and all other of Nature's subjects.
This entry was posted in Closeup Photography, Flora, Nature Photography, Trustees of Reservations, Western Massachusetts, Wildflowers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to 09.09.2014 All of me…why not take all of me?

  1. Andrew says:

    The second image gets my vote – tighter and brighter – more pop. Nicely done Mr. G.


  2. Jim in IA says:

    Second one gets my vote by a little bit.

    Astrophotographers also use stacking of many images to produce high quality results.


  3. Lottie Nevin says:

    I’m so enthralled listening to Billie, that I’ve forgotten what I was going to say….Oh yes, wiping the leaves with a handkerchief – I think that’s what I’ve been doing wrong! (note to self, take kleenex next time I go out with my camera) I like both of these shots but the #1 is my favourite because the slightly busier background is a great contrast to the boldness and solidity of the foreground. I also love imperfection so the nibbled leaf is a bonus!


  4. OK … yeah, I get it – it’s just a matter of terms. LR allows for ‘brush adjustments’ which may be a bit clumsy but which, I think, do the same sort of thing as your ‘selective adjustments’. If I want to selectively blur a background, for example, I need to manually select that background with a brush and then modify the selected area. Now, having said that, the sorts of selection modifications which are possible are perhaps few than those which PS is capable of. Let me ask … is your PS cloud-based? Or, do you have a physical copy on your computer? I’ve been thinking about going into the cloud for both PS and LR. And finally … I’m waiting for the ‘other’ Steve to point out that describing the ‘slits’ in this beautiful specimen would provide a good opportunity for use of the word ‘fenestration.’ We’ll wait to see if he picks up on this comment! D


    • Ah yes, Latin fenestra, which meant ‘window.’ Along with fenestration there’s the verb defenestrate, which means ‘to throw [someone] out of a window.’ Next time someone annoys you, you can say “If you keep that up I’m going to defenestrate you.”

      As for your question, my understanding is that even if you use PS and LR via subscription, the copies still reside on and run from your hard drive. My guess is that each time you launch them they send a query to an online database to see if you’re currently a paid-up user.


    • Steve’s assumption is correct. All Creative Cloud software gets downloaded from the cloud to your computer and becomes functional when your subscription is verified. One of the drawbacks is when traveling, most often in remote parts of the world, the cloud is out of contact and then the software won’t work. That is a good reason, if you travel with a laptop, to keep the most recent version of the software, in your case LR, so you will have functional programs. Another problem is if you decide to end your subscription, the software stops working and there may be problems accessing your images depending on how you saved them and where. I do not keep any of my files in cloud storage.
      I took advantage of the $10/month deal. I don’t know how long it will continue to be available to new subscribers. Initially it was for a few months last year. They extended it for a few more months and now it is still the purchase price…or subscription price I should say. Supposedly it is guaranteed for as long as you keep your subscription current.


  5. I like the way you put it: “…this would not be my chosen profession were I an insect.” Shades of Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.”

    Being of a certain age, I caught your title’s reference right away and didn’t have to wait for you to contextualize it at the end of your post, but I didn’t know who wrote the song so I looked it up:


    Way too many times now, a website mentions someone (often someone currently popular) who sang the song but fails to give credit to the person or people who wrote it.

    I’ve wondered why some plant species keep their flowers mostly closed. Maybe they want only the fittest pollinators.


    • It rarely is the performer who wrote a song back in the day. Tin Pan Alley etc. It is more likely now, but there are still “Song Stylists” making the rounds.

      Obviously there is usually a reason that a plant and insect have a mutual evolutionary path. In the case of this flower, there must be a reason, placement of anthers maybe, why the petals remain closed and require a certain activity by the visitor to gather the pollen from the anthers and deliver the pollen from another to the stigma. OTOH, it could just be chaos.


  6. Number one i like for depth iof color but for the sake if clarity I suppose (2) is the best since it has less clutter surrounding the subject.


  7. Oh, man, nobody ever sang that better! As to stacking the image, aha! When I shoot a plant and get disappointing results, it has crossed my mind that “real” photographers might have found a way to do what you described~ shift the focus sequentially front to back. I usually take a series of photos and make a sketch or two to compensate.
    There is nothing like the joyful little jolt a gentian gives you late in the season, is there? I like both of these, because I really like a noisy background. It gives the plant its setting. But the portraits are irresistible.


    • Stacking is a great tool but I try not to rely on it very much, Melissa. I am much happier when I can find a situation where what matters most is in focus and the rest a soft blur and can be captured in one shot as with the Grass Pink.

      Imagine how wonderful it would have been for Billie Holiday to be performing in this somewhat more friendly era than during her lifetime. There are an awful lot of popular and successful low talent performers out there these days…in my own senior citizen opinion, of course. 🙂

      As much as I do enjoy these gentians, my year will be a flowering success if I happen upon a fringed gentian. I mentioned my desire in a native plants group on Facebook, but no one has offered to divulge anything. Last year, I got a site from someone but it is next to a high school and gets mowed frequently so I may be out of luck. There is still time.


  8. The last, and it goes well with the song.


  9. Thank you for the Billie Holiday video. She is such a special part of our history, she touched our community and she changed it.


  10. shoreacres says:

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen even a photo of this beauty. Or, if I have, I wasn’t attuned to its special qualities and just assumed it wasn’t fully open. No forced choice for me — I like them both. What I especially like are the purple veins – as though the color’s fully saturated the blooms, and the excess has run out into the leaves.


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