Macro

I indulged myself.  I bought a macro lens.

I have been enjoying Fred, A French Gardener and Photo Sociology’s fabulous photos, and this week I just gave in to temptation.

I might have bought a camera too. [says in small voice in manner of confession].

I got a press pass for RHS Hampton Court Flower Show in a couple of weeks’ time (yippee!) But then I started to worry about whether my photos will be good enough.  So what initially seemed like a fantastic bargain (free ticket to prestigious flower show) has now proven to be most expensive ticket to flower show ever (cost of new camera).

I’d better start taking some blooming good photos.

Now, I’m not one to read instructions, and that’s good, because this camera came with NO instructions.  Well, very basic instructions.  So it is going to take a lot of button-pressing and dial-twiddling before I work out what I can do.

This is what I did after work today.

This flower is one of the reasons I bought a new camera.  Stevie’s old SLR makes Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ look very strange.  We have both fiddled and scratched our heads, and Stevie even read the manual, but no matter what we did, Anne came out all mauve.  The photos that I have used in previous blog posts have been taken with my iPhone (see The Evening Light), but I can’t get close-ups with that.

This isn’t perfect, but the colour is much closer to the magenta purple that my eyes see.  And I love that I can capture her curly eye-lashes.  Look at the ones on the right!  For those who are not familiar with hardy geraniums, the flowers are about the size of a ten-pence piece.

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Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’

Next I looked at Anne’s next-door neighbour, Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ (featured in Just Peachy).  I thought I’d try a bud.  I love the miniaret shape of this bud.  And the furriness of the carpels, and the tiny little spines, like you get on cactus fruit.

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Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’ bud

Then a ‘Lady Em’ flower.  Look at those undulating folds.

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Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’

Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ is always abuzz with bees, and so I thought I’d try to get one.  As you can see, that didn’t really work.  I’m going to have to learn patience for wildlife photography…

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Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’ with a blurry bee.

On to the bright border, and I couldn’t walk past this Crocosmia foliage.  My Bridget Riley foliage.  That is Geranium ‘Brookside’ behind.

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Crocosmia foliage

But I could have taken that with my iPhone.  Spendthrift guilt is creeping in at the corners.

Now this is what I bought a macro lens for.  This is Geranium ‘Rozanne’.  Just take a moment to admire her purple anthers and veins.  And the shadows on anthers in the bottom left of her saucer!

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Geranium ‘Rozanne’

Let’s just try a bit of Alchemilla mollis.

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Alchemilla mollis

Oh, look at the beautiful Clematis!  I utterly love the curlicue shapes.  And the way these two are holding hands.  There are two Clematis growing up this support, ‘Princess Diana’ and ‘Jackmanii’, and that is Rosa ‘Benjamin Britten’ behind.

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Wait a minute, who’s this?

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Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and green critter

Now we’re talking.  I am really pleased with these photos.   I love the curly magenta stigma on the geranium, with its dusting of pollen, and the white corona.  I love the hairy stem and buds on the one below.  And I love the colours.

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Geranium ‘Rozanne’ and green critter checking me out.

I just got a teeny bit closer.  And he waved his antennae at me.

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Green critter on Geranium ‘Rozanne’ stem.

Oh.  The bug seems to have disappeared.  But the stem is still pretty.  I love the rosy apricot carpel.  Ooh and I love the background.

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Geranium ‘Rozanne’ buds.

I just drew my family’s attention to the beautiful background.  I wondered if there is a word for this lovely blotchiness in a blurry background.  Stevie tells me it is “Fourier transform”.  I’m sorry, Stevie, but that’s just not very poetic.  Dear arty types, (Emma CownieArty Plantsman?) is there a more romantic name for this effect?  You know, like ombre or chiascuro?

Let’s have another salvia, this time Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’.  I know it’s a bit blurry, but a third of the way down there’s a little bit that is in focus!  I love all the different colours in this salvia.  And the monster mouths.

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Salvia nemorosa ‘Ostfriesland’

I am also pleased with this next one.  Lychnis coronaria (also known as ‘Dusty Miller’ owing to the silver stems which could be dusted with flour.  I also recently discovered the common name ‘Bridget in her Bravery’.  Which is fabulous).

This particular form of Lychnis came from my mum, who seems to have acquired a particularly deep crimson.  I utterly love this plant.  On the same plant you get quite purply buds, magenta newly-opened flowers, reddish crimson flowers which are going over, and dark purple flowers which have shrivelled and dried.  It has velvety petals, and in this photo you can see why they shimmer.  They have tiny protrusions on the surface, which catch the light, like flecks of glitter.  You can also see a little coronet of translucent spikes at the centre, and golden anthers.  There is a light dusting of pollen (or flour?).

Lychnis coronaria.  Very close.

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Lychnis coronaria

The next one is the Gallica rose, ‘Charles de Mills’.  It lives below a Mountain Ash (Rowan) tree, which is dropping its flowers.  The white petals have been lying like confetti between the folds of rose petals, and now I think the rowan is dropping little brown shrivelled anthers too.  Like the dried bouquet of the bride, tossed aside.

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Rosa ‘Charles de Mills’ (Gallica)

Oh look, with my new macro lens, even a nettle looks gorgeous.

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Nettle.

For some reason, these photos upload with an obligatory caption.  So excuse the rather obvious labels!

Whilst I’m here, look at the lichen on the rowan bark:

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Lichen.

Are you ready for another geranium?  This is Geranium magnificum.  With very impressive veins.  These remind me of visiting the Optician.  You know when she shines a light into your eye and you somehow see the image of the blood vessels on the back of your eyeball?  No idea how that works, but it looks like this!

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Geranium magnificum

This geranium has one fantastic flush of flowers, and then she will take a break.  But look at the floofy seedheads, with the hybrid perpetual rose, ‘Reine de Violettes’ behind.

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Geranium magnificum seedheads

Oh goodness, even the raspberry leaves look gorgeous through this lens!

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Raspberry tips

And look!  It’s another little beastie!  Is it a cricket?  And an itsy bitsy fly looking on.

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Rosa ‘Royal Jubilee’ and friends.

Some more foliage.  This time from the rambler rose, ‘Bleu Magenta’.

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Foliage of rambling rose.

And as we’re in the allotment now, a pea flower.  More veining!  Pea flowers are delightfully rude.

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Pea flower

Oh, and a tendril!  Everyone loves a tendril!  Those curls remind me of having to draw a treble clef over and over for piano lesson homework.

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Pea tendril.

Which leads me to the cellos.  Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’.

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Salvia x jamensis ‘Nachtvlinder’

Now stay with me.  I’m nearly done.  Just look at the doves with their heads together and wings outstretched:

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Aquilegia ‘Hensol’s Harebell’

Shall I try again for a bee?

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Salvia and another bee blur

They are tricksy!

One last geranium spent flower.  They stay still.

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Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’ spent flower.

And Anne herself, curly eye-lashes and all.

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Geranium ‘Anne Thomson’

So that’s my camera.  For those who want the technical details, it is an Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II with M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens.

And yes, we’re bonding.

41 Comments Add yours

  1. Congratulations on your new camera and lens. The instruction can be found online at the Olympus website.

    You’ve taken some wonderful photos, and I particularly like lady Emma Hamilton.

    The obligatory caption can be altered in Lightroom if you use it, I’m not sure how to do it in photo shop.

    Your green bug is fantastic. Bees are hard to photograph, and you do have to be patient. On the 60 mm lens change the dial to 19-infinity, find a flower head close to you that the bees keep returning to and point your lens there. Then wait. It may also help to shoot in continuos low. To do this, on the rear of your camera to the right are for buttons around the ok button, press the lowest of these, then scroll to the right until you find the first setting that has a picture of multiple frames that has an l next to it, then press ok.

    If you now press and hold the shutter it will repeatedly shoot. I tend to only let it fire 5times so that I can then refocus.

    Have fun at Chelsea.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you soooo much for this, for taking the time to explain it. I have screenshotted your instructions, so that I can come back to them. I think I am going to have fun with this camera – thank you too for making me aware of it! The size is exactly what I wanted, and I can’t believe how light it is! I have always loved smaller versions of things!!

      1. It’s a brilliant camera and the fact it’s so lightweight and unobtrusive really helps. Enjoy.

      2. Ali says:

        Thank you.

  2. These are gorgeous! The color and softness of each one are perfect. 💗😊

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Lisa. Yes, it is that softness, isn’t it? You get a sense of intimacy.

  3. annpappas says:

    One day I will do macro photography but in the meantime, I joined this group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/Butterfliesandbugs/ just to admire the amazing photography there.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you for that link, Ann – I will check it out.

  4. Wow, gorgeous photographs,
    I think the term you are looking for is Bokeh, close up on flower with blurred background. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bokeh,
    Enjoy Hampton Court , look forward to seeing your photos and reading about your visit.

  5. janesmudgeegarden says:

    Fab photos, Ali and yes, I’m just a teeny bit envious as my closeups seem to be a bit rubbish despite the special closeup setting on my camera. Your last bee looks as though it has just flown over the jump in the pole vault and is righting itself!

    1. Ali says:

      It did surprise me how much they move about mid-air, doing somersaults and the like!

  6. fredgardener says:

    Wonderful photos Ali as always and the purchase of your camera makes me want to do the same!
    I hesitated for a few weeks to buy one. I will explore to find the one that best matches the style of photos I take. This one looks perfect. (And thank you for including me in your post!)

    1. Ali says:

      I didn’t realise that you could get a small and lightweight SLR with good quality macro lens, so I am very pleased! It is perfect for days out – I wouldn’t usually take the big camera because it is so heavy.

  7. Cathy says:

    Wonderful photos Ali! I am envious of your new lens!

  8. cavershamjj says:

    Bless you my child. The universe forgives you. As penance you should say three Hail Mary’s and two rosaries and do good deeds. Or you could take more fabulous photos. Really great pics.

    1. Ali says:

      I can’t stop. This may be an addiction as great as gardening.

  9. I love macro photos and love yours with all that beautiful detail. 🙂

  10. Penny Post says:

    Depending upon what you mean by blotches in the background the technical term you are looking for is bokeh, which is a result of using a shallow depth of field such as f/2 the result being ‘blotches; or circles of light in the background. Have fun with your macro lens and Olympus I’m a Canon person myself but also have a fixed 60mm lens which I have usually use for my flower images.

  11. Beautiful photos – money well spent. Don’t ever feel guilty for money spent on something that helps you slow down and see life from a whole new perspective. Love it!!!

  12. Chloris says:

    Oh wow, what wonderful shots, I want one.

  13. bcparkison says:

    Your photos have always been good. Now they will be great.

  14. Nat says:

    Oh. My. Goodness! Flower Porn indeed. I can’t pick a favourite. Stunning.

  15. Oh I envy you so! I’ve been contemplating getting a macro lens for a few months now. Beautiful shots! Enjoy your new friend 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you Tatiana, I will.

  16. Heyjude says:

    Ah, well, you have discovered my passion Ali. A couple of years ago I ‘treated’ myself (a result of doing without any substantial birthday and Christmas presents for several years) to an Olympus EM-10 camera with a couple of lenses. And then a Macro lens. Which is what I really wanted as I am fascinated in getting in close to flowers. And bugs. Tricksy things to use though and definitely not for windy conditions which are all too common here. I do have a separate blog for flowers: Earth Laughs in Flowers https://smallbluegreenflowers.wordpress.com/
    which feature my macros as well as other gardens. And my most recent capture is a BEE!! Not my best. I do have a much better photo, but I like capturing them in flight.
    That wonderful blurred background btw is referred to as ‘bokeh’ in photographic circles. So I am told 😀

    You are going to have SOOOOO much fun!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you for the link, Jude. I know – I can’t put this camera down.

  17. Bonding well by the looks of things

  18. sgeoil says:

    I think you are well on your way to mastering the new camera and lens! Fabulous photos.

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you. I even read a few instructions online.

  19. You’re like a kid in sweet shop! Isn’t it wonderful!. Gorgeous pictures, even the nettle, whose sister stung me an hour ago…. I look forward to many more.

    1. Ali says:

      I am, completely. Thank you for your kind encouragement!

  20. Gorgeous photos Ali! Honestly, really superb. I’m a teeny bit jealous of your press pass!! I’m working (boo) but have a fabulous time. Do look up occasionally though. Xx

    1. Ali says:

      I will! I won’t know where to start. I need some sort of strategy or I will just be turning around in circles like a disorientated darlek.

  21. Lovely photos….good purchase! Loved the Pyrennean erodium yo featured a few days ago….

    1. Ali says:

      It is beautiful, isn’t it? It doesn’t stop flowering. And is lovely close-up.

  22. Terrific photos Ali. Your purchase was well worth it!

  23. Claudette says:

    Sometimes you jsut gotta spend 🙂 Lovely photos.

  24. Fantabulous! Congrats on your new camera and macro lens! You will have so much fun photographing your garden! I look forward to upcoming posts!

    1. Ali says:

      I’ve had to hide the camera from myself. No more photos. (today).

  25. Nicky says:

    Lovely photos, well worth the investment 😃

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