Saturday, June 30, 2012

Oh, Mr. DeMille?

Mr. DeMille, Mr. DeMille, I think I'm ready for my closeup!  I've been working so hard, putting on my colors, filling in gaps, and studying the lines for my part.  I think my left side is the best, don't you?  

Closeup photography of flowers is always rewarding, but simultaneously a technically-demanding exercise and yet sometimes not so.  I'm fully aware that to get the best pictures, they must be carefully framed and set, requiring tripods and lighting and perfect flowers.  But even rank amateurs, like myself, can see some fascinating sights at a macro level with a handheld camera, a complete different world from the normal eye's view at shoulder height three feet from the flower.     

Take the lily to the right, above, for instance.  I understand the hierarchy of pistil over stamens, the multiple brown pollens of the anthers vying to attach themselves first to the sticky stigma.  But who makes the spidery minuscule webs that I find in most flowers?  Are the inhabitants still there, hiding, or long gone?  Is the purpose of those filaments to trap infinitesimal insects that I wouldn't even have dreamed existed?  Or are they insect equivalents of the debris left behind at a human campsite?

And then the softer, cumulus-cloudy nature of the anthers of Hibiscus 'Blue Bird', show here from its right side.  I've read that the structure here depends on bird (hummingbird) pollination.  The bird approaches from the front, bumping its head on the stigma and then, further in, it must reach past the anthers to get the nectar prize, in the process covering its head in pollen.  Then, at the next flower, the pollen from one is transferred to the stigma of the next, and so on, and so on.
The vivid contrasts of Hibicus syriacus 'Red Heart' are best viewed at close quarters.  In this cultivar, the brilliant purple-red at the base of the cream-hued sex organs make a bullseye that any hunter could recognize and that the hummingbird will hone in on.
There are things to say, as well, for the mid-range closeups, the photos that don't threaten to show the pores and blemishes of the photogenic stars, but that show the composition, the lines of beauty, the blends of color.  Marilyn Monroe reclining gracefully and suggestively on the chaste lounge.  Natalie Woods splendid in the grass.  Simply composed, the sweet clustering of the Bailey rose 'Sweet Fragrance' can match the beauty of those iconic stars.   

In your own garden, don't forget as you snap photos of the scenery, you should also photograph the individuals, and, deeper, even their pieces and parts, because beauty will be found at all levels, in all plants and in all gardens.

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