Signs of Life 2019/9

In my June 2019 end notes, I promised a gallery of the trailside flowers from my hike to Manza Benchmark in the Laguna Mountains – but it would obviously be fairly similar to another “Signs of Life” gallery… so those that are worth showing here (first four photos in the gallery below) gave me reason to finally get my act together :P to complete the next dozen of flowers that I photographed in the last couple of months and haven’t had on the website yet.

Not all of these are new – the most exciting find surely was Streptanthus campestris, the rare Southern Jewelflower (third photo), and I think the Trichostema parishii (Mountain Bluecurls) photo finally shows the unique features of the plant in a compelling way in a single image. The more complete view of the Collomia grandiflora complements my existing gallery nicely.

I’ve also “branched out” a little bit – the extreme close-up of the Zeltnera venusta anthers was made by adding an extension tube to my 105mm macro lens, and the softness of of the Heliotropum currassavicum is owed to combining a 50mm f/1.4 prime lens with an extension tube. The 50mm f/1.4 with extension tube, when used with a wide open aperture (the photo was made at f/2), yields a very dreamy look and I think I’ll try that more often in the future.

I hope you like the selection. Happy Forth of July to all Americans!

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Previous: June 2019 End Notes

9 thoughts on “Signs of Life 2019/9”

  1. Wonderful finds and captures! Are you seeing an above average wildflower bloom this year? We are here after record snow but access up high is still limited. We have white Mariposa Lilies blooming on our property right now.

    • We did have a great bloom this year but as summer is here, it is certainly coming to an end now (the blooms in Southern California begin with the first winter rains, actually – when it rains in November we will see the first bushes start blooming in December).

  2. Beautiful macros! I especially love the Golden Mariposa. I have only ever seen a white variety.

  3. Such a beautiful gallery, Alex. I love the look you got with the extension tube, too – I’ve never used one, and those photos make me tempted to try one out. Whatever lavender-colored plant was in the background of the hibiscus flower photo sure gave that a nice feeling. The detail in the Mariposa lily photo is beautiful and really brings the eye in. The hairs on the Bird’s foot trefoil are so delicately rendered, and that soft gray background that’s not really gray is wonderful. Once I worked for two NYC interior decorators (tending their grounds and gardens). They painted a guest bedroom a light gray that blew my mind, it was a magical shade. I asked about it and they said it was something the painter managed to mix using many, many colors. And lots of white I guess. That background brought the story to mind. :-)

    • Thank you very much, Lynn. The background of the Rock Hibiscus are a bunch of Phacelias – they’re probably the most abundant flowers here and in the desert in spring. Try extension tubes – they’re lightweight and so easy to add/remove, great for lightweight walks when I don’t want to carry the bulkier and heavier macro lens. The only downside is that you can’t focus at infinity anymore and are limited to near focus but then again, that’s the point of using them… ;-)

  4. You’re very good a finding a depth of field to really bring out the subject, like in the first image of the Mariposa Lily, just fantastic. I also love that last image of the Rock Hibiscus, really nice with the purple patches below. I’ve used extension tubes with a 50mm and really liked the results, though it’s been quite a while since I did this. But I don’t think I’ve ever tried extension tubes with the 105mm macro lens. I will have to give that a try one of these days. Beautiful work, Alex.

    • Thanks a lot, Todd! The extension tubes with the 105mm macro lens are really quite something – you can get so incredibly close, it’s ridiculous! :-) I don’t need to tell you how limited DOF is with this setup – the Zeltnera anthers were photographed at f/16…


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