The first, obvious rule of photographing flowers is to catch them when they’ve first opened, virginal and fresh — for photos magnify every slight imperfection. This is not as easy as it sounds. We’re all busy; it’s easy to let a day slip by before again checking the blooms, only to find you’re again too late.

Some flowers are hardy enough that they still look fresh after several days, barring rain. In that case the photographer may only have to remove a fly speck or two in the digital editor. Others, like the iris, are highly perishable, and may not remain at the peak of perfection for more than a day.

I had been watching our wonderful patch of Siberian Irises (cultivar “Caesar’s Cousin”) for an opportunity. They bloom late here on the cool edge of the pond, and the last few have just now opened. Finally, yesterday, I spied one that was not only fresh, but had arranged itself artistically. The light was close to ideal, with the sky overcast but bright, yielding a luminous, shadowless light. A breeze off the pond was whipping the flower back and forth. I kept shooting, hoping to catch it during an infrequent lull in the wind.

Of course, a little luck helps on these occasions. After years of trying, I finally succeeded in capturing this exquisite flower at its best. The date was May 29, 2012, at 12:08 pm.

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There’s a nice piece about me and this blog in the Waltham News Tribune online edition.

The article was written by Jim Walker, Photo Editor, in his topical blog about Watch City goings-on. The blog is aptly named Brand New Watch. I recommend it highly for its focus on the little crannies of our city – its life, work and hope – aspects that we otherwise would never see nor appreciate.

Jim came to the house for an interview. I was tired that day, and a bit rambling in response to his questions. But Jim did what a good reporter does. He deftly culled out the essence and presented it with clarity, color and style.


The Chinese “Tree” Peony is so-named for its China origin and its woody stems. It has long been the most common garden peony in the world, with many cultivars having been developed over the years.

If you look closely, you’ll notice a little damage to the petals from the recent rains. Usually, such imperfections would disqualify a photo from appearing on this blog, but the sheer opulence of the bloom overrode such concerns.

The photo was taken on May 26, 2012, a little after noon, under an overcast (shadowless), but brightly luminous sky. The plant grows in Jackie’s lovely garden by the pond.

There’s also a more modern, peony cultivar in the garden. It’s flowers have not held up nearly as well to the recent rains. I wonder if it’s a case of over-breeding that weakens the strain.

See related posts: Spring Garden 2013*, Jackie’s Blooms. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome.


Regular readers know that the image of the Great Blue Heron is a favorite of this blog. The morning this was recorded, a light fog had settled over the pond.

I awoke shortly after dawn, still groggy with sleep, when I first glimpsed this iconic image. It appeared to me dream-like, ethereal, an apparition. The line between sleeping and waking blurred for a moment. I had time for one, quick shot before the big bird flew off.

Why did it leave? Was it spooked by my presence at the window (I tried to stay back), or had it simply reached the limit of its patience? Perhaps a little of both.

A second, slightly smaller Great Blue was perched on a rock a few feet further north. After this one left, I took some shots of the other, but without a similar success.

This image is ever-so-slightly soft, as if overlaid by a fine, gray film. That’s due not only to the low light and fragile fog muting the scene, but also because I had to shoot through double, insulating glass. The date was May 23, 2012, at the always magical hour of 5:36 am.

Update: This post was first published under the title, “Motif #1.” Sorry for any confusion.

See related posts: Great Blue in Fall*, Great Blue at Dawn*. Click image to enlarge it, and browser’s back arrow to close. Comments are welcome, indeed eagerly sought.


The long, cold spring, followed finally by rain, produced unusually lush foliage on plants great and small. The scene was captured May 11, 2012 at 7:32 pm.

Update: This post was originally published under the title, “Spring Idyll.” I apologize for any confusion from the change.

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In an earlier post, I fretted there were no squirrels and chipmunks cavorting in our yard this spring. As much excitement as the Bald Eagles had brought into our lives, loss of those lively creature was an awfully high price to pay. Well, the eagles have not been seen for some weeks, now, the weather has warmed, and the chippies and a few squirrels have finally returned.

At first, the chippies sped away when they saw me at the window. Now, they delay their flight just long enough to take a good look. As they’ve gotten used to me, their curiosity has gotten the better of them. I still take care not to move too quickly when I see them, nor approach too closely to the window. This photo was take through the thermal, double glass of a French door, plus a third layer of glass in the storm door. Not too bad for all that! The date was May 5, 2012.

I’ve used the plural, “chippies,” though I’m not yet sure there’s more than one. Based on last year’s experience, however, I’ll bet there is. Time will tell.

See related post: Thieving Chipmunk.

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