Named for 18th century botanist Anders Dahl, Dahlias are native to Mexico and
Central America and were grown primarily for their tubers as a food source, although
their fibers were used in clothing and their hollow stalks for the transportation of water.
The Spanish were the first Europeans to discover 'Tree Dahlias' in the
1500's, but rootstock and seed were not introduced in Spain until the 1700's and at
that time were grown primarily as a food source as the blooms were not particularly
attractive. By the early 1800's nurserymen were creating attractive blooms through
hybridization and for a brief period Dahlias became popular, but interest soon waned
since it was felt they had achieved all possible color and form combinations. In
1872 tubers were shipped from the mountains of central Mexico to Holland, but only
one survived; this one tuber, when hybrid with the earlier stock, became the parent
of the thousands of modern garden Dahlia cultivars.
While Dahlias can be grown almost anywhere, they thrive in wet environments with
cool nights and professional Dahlia growers, hybrid Dahlias for repeatability.
Today, well over 50,000 registered Dahlias exist and that number increases annually,
but many of the blooms that I photograph are unregistered, failed hybrid experiments
that will never be seen again. As a photographer, I prefer the unique form and
movement of the rejected 'blown center' flowers and other anomalies that end up
being yanked from gardens in favor of more consistently uniform blooms.
If photographing flowers is a passion for you, as it is for me (and diversity is what you are after), find a grower in
your area and see if he will allow you to photograph his Dahlias. The image
possibilities are endless and of course, the more you're able to shoot and
experiment with any given subject, the better your work will become.
1) Macro lens: Preferably one that zooms-growers who grow for shows grow in tight
rows, so the less you move about and disturb their plants the more likely they will
be to allow you to return and it makes composing much easier.
2) Tripod: My camera never leaves the tripod unless I fly somewhere; a tripod will
get you sharper images and slows you down so you can compose more meticulously
(you'll be amazed at how much an infinitesimal movement in your camera can make in
the composition of a close-up photograph).
3) Neutral colored umbrella: Sometimes direct sunlight can make a shot, but as a
rule, overcast skies or even lighting (however you can get it: i.e. the umbrella)
are what you want for flower photography.
4) Backdrop cloth: If you shoot with a background, awareness of or controlling your
background is critical to the success of any image. I experiment more with limited
depth of field, out of focus background and foreground, close-up photography than I
do with anything else in nature-I think it's the most creative venue, although, if
you really want to pop an image a simple black background or any solid color
(experiment) is the way to go.
5) Camera with spot meter: I spot meter everything and expose for the brightest part
of the image-the quickest way to ruin any photograph is to blow out highlights.
Metering is a science and an art and once you have used your spot meter for a while,
it becomes intuitive.
6) Fujichrome Velvia or the Velvia setting on your digital camera: If you want
vibrant color and great contrast, Velvia is all there is; it's the only film I
shoot. High contrast situations (unless you are going for contrast) are not where
the film excels, that's why I do most of my waterfalls and high contrast images in
fog or at least when there is no direct sunlight.
7) Remote shutter release: The slightest movement of the camera will create blur, so
if you don't touch the camera to release the shutter, you'll get much cleaner
8) Lastly PATIENCE: It can be very frustrating to be shooting on a partly cloudy day
and you've metered the light, waited for still air (so there is no movement in the
flower), you're ready to release the shutter and the light changes, so you have to
do it all over again and maybe again and again and again. Stick with it. PATIENCE
has its rewards.
Click the author's gallery image on the top of the page to view the author's photographs.
My Outdoor Eyes Photography Blog|
Eastern Kingbird At Our Bird Bath On Cape Cod
What a treat it was to see this Eastern Kingbird at our bird bath her on Cape Cod. We saw our first eastern Kingbird about a month ago at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. We had never seen one before. So now to see one in our own backyard is really cool!
The Yuccas Are Blooming And Hardy Here On Cape Cod
The Yuccas are absolutely stunning this year on Cape Cod. I wonder if it’s because of all the moisture that we’ve had. I saw this “pastoral scene” with the luscious Yuccas on one of my early morning bike rides around to the different beaches. It’s amazing what you can see when you’re not worried about … Continue reading The Yuccas Are Blooming And Hardy Here On Cape Cod
Baby Baltimore Oriole In The Bird Bath On Cape Cod
We have so many baby Baltimore Orioles in our yard this summer! It is so much fun. This little guy was still wet from his bath. The coloring of the babies is so different from the adults with almost muted yellow and brown coloring. I loved the yellow Daylilies in the background. Cute little guy, … Continue reading Baby Baltimore Oriole In The Bird Bath On Cape Cod
Purple Climbing Nightshade Wildflower At Fort Hill On Cape Cod
The Climbing Nightshade wildflowers, also known as Bittersweet Nightshade, are just beautiful at Fort Hill in Eastham on Cape Cod. You can see them on the trail near the Cutting Rock or on the trail leading up to the overlook parking lot. Climbing Nightshade wildflowers are a climbing vine with purple shooting star-shaped flowers of … Continue reading Purple Climbing Nightshade Wildflower At Fort Hill On Cape Cod
American Copper Butterfly At Fort Hill On Cape Cod
I almost missed this little American Copper butterfly at Fort Hill on Cape Cod. He was pretty camouflaged until he opened his wings for a second and I saw the beautiful orange color and black spots. American Copper butterflies are small, only about 1″ with orange forewings and about 8 black dots and a black … Continue reading American Copper Butterfly At Fort Hill On Cape Cod
Gorgeous Orange Day Lilies on Cape Cod
The Daylilies here on Cape Cod are gorgeous this summer. They are growing everywhere and almost seem like a wildflower on the sides of the roads. I loved the coloring of this Daylily…so vibrant a deep orange color! What do you think?