Cornell Flowers

A few weeks ago, the Ithaca Photography Club had a meeting that focused on macro photography.  This is something I’ve gotten into much more lately so I was looking forward to learning more and to watching some of my friends with a lot more macro experience to see what sort of techniques I might be able to pick up on.

I don’t have a macro lens – but macro photography means close-up photography so I figured I’d grab the nifty fifty (aka the plastic fantastic) and see what I can do.  In the past I’ve used this lens mainly for bokeh – set it at f/1.8-5.6  and go.  I’ve gotten some great flower shots this way.

Yellow Bokeh

Yellow Bokeh - taken at the Cornell Botanical Gardens

But this is not macro.  To me – macro is when your subject almost fills the frame and you can see each little piece of flower fuzz clearly.  So I wouldn’t consider this close enough to be considered a macro.  But I still love it.

Which got me to thinking – I’ve been spending so much time lately trying to make great macros that I’ve barely had the 50mm out of the bag.  This was my favorite flower lens last year – what the heck happened?  I think sometimes I just need to get out of my own way and stop worrying so much about technique and things I’ve read and how to make the shot “perfect” and just shoot what I like.  And I like bokeh darn it!!

The bee that's not a bee - bee have antenna - this does not. Taken at the Cornell Botanical Gardens.

(A friend and fellow blogger has been learning a lot lately about identifying her insect macros and I’ve learned via her this little tidbit about the difference between bees and flies. For more information you can visit her blog here.)

Also on this day we were fortunate enough to get a tour of some of Cornell’s greenhouses. Turns out one of the things they do there is test new varieties of plants to see how well they will fare in Zone 5 then they report back to the plant companies. These plants were ready to be planted outside the following week where they will be monitored and reported on. If they do well I might see these varieties in my local home and garden store next year!

White Petunia - took me a few tries to get the exposure right on this one - it's so hard to shoot things that are white!

Yellow/Pink Petunia - I loved how this one bloom was standing up almost shouting, "Look at Me!!"

Portulaca - I liked the one non-variegated flower - I wonder if that was on purpose??

So these are my not-really-macro shots that I ended up taking after spending a lot of time learning about macros. And I’m fine with that. Most of these were taken at f/5.6 – in the future I may dial it down a little bit more – f/4 or maybe even down to f/2.8 – we’ll see. But I haven’t lost my love for macros either – I’m headed to Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia in August and I’ve rented a macros lens for that trip – I can hardly wait!!


2 thoughts on “Cornell Flowers

  1. Pretty shots Deb! I love that “nifty fifty” lens, as Scott calls it. There seems to be something about it that allows a beautiful soft-but-sharp-at-the-same-time focus.
    If you are interested, I know of 2 less expensive ways to take nice macros without spending a bundle on a true macro lens. Extension tubes work great with a zoom lens. I got a set of 3 on B&H for about $80. I also have a neat little macro converter (a Raynox M250) – it easily snaps on over a variety of lenses. Great close-ups but extremely narrow DOF.

  2. Pingback: Macro Progress « My Life in CNY

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