Three photos of Showy Penstemon (Penstemon spectabilis) growing along my favorite local trail for wildflowers – the Piedras Pintadas Trail of the San Dieguito River Park at Lake Hodges.
Showy Penstemon is a real challenge to photograph – well, at least with the way I want to photograph flowers, with rather limited depth of field and good isolation from the background.
The plants can grow quite tall, its stem is rather thin and flexible, and the amount of flowers provide plenty of surface area – a light breeze will move the plant around enough to make any attempt at acquiring focus a real test of patience. The intensive purple/blue color never looks quite right when photographed either (generally too bright) and needs careful treatment to look somewhat authentic. Last not least, there’s the sheer size and depth of the individual flowers – it’s hard to get sufficient depth of field while maintaining a nice bokeh.
When I set up a Smart Collection in Lightroom to collect the images of the plant I had over 30 photos to choose from, from multiple walks in the area. After weeding out the failures (lack of focus etc.) only 14 were left, and three made it into this blog post. When 10% are good enough to show them it’s actually not a bad rate I think… even though this is based on my own flawed evaluation – flawed because naturally, I’m more attached to my photos than anyone else. :-)
Anyway, here they are… and they’re all long gone now of course, blooming here mostly in April and May. I guess I’ll meet them again next year.
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