Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Harbinger of Spring

The Pulsatilla 

After we moved here in the middle of winter some years ago, this little beauty was the first flower to greet me after those long cold months. Ever since then the Pulsatilla has a special place in my heart. Spring has arrived, at least for me, once I spot the first ones.
This spring they seem to be especially abundant and I decided to dedicate a blog just to them and put together of my favorite images and some interesting facts about the Pulsatilla for you to enjoy!

 Frost resistant, but not an early riser...

The Pulsatilla has many names, pasque flower, prairie crocus, wind flower and meadow anemone to name a few. It officially belongs to the family of Ranununculaceae and the genus Pulsatilla, which is by some considered a subgenus of the Anemone....

All of the 33 species of Pulsatilla are herbaceous but highly toxic perennials, some of them are used in herbal remedies and homeopathic applications. Due to the effect on the reproductive system they should absolutely not be consumed during pregnancy! Native Americans used Pulsatilla to induce termination of a pregnancy and childbirth.

The Pulsatilla is the provincial flower of Manitoba and the state flower of South Dakota.

As to how I photograph these little gems: Since the Pulsatilla is rather close to the ground, I'm close to the ground, too. Mostly lying on my belly or at least kneeling down. If not using a tripod I most often utilize a rock or my elbows to steady the camera. Most of these images are shot with the Canon Macro 100 mm, 2.8, USM on my 5D Mark III. Key is to avoid or at least minimize the wind. Most often I carry a reflector with me, not necessarily for the light as more as a wind stopper.

As focus stacking experiences a revival lately I have been asked why I'm not using it on my macros. Well, for one, as I just discussed with a photographer friend of mine, although I think focus stacking has its place, it is not my style. I like the fact that I can put the focus where I want it and use the "out of focus" areas to emphasize the focal point. Also, for focus stacking to be successful in conjunction with macro, I would have to take the flower to the studio. Which might be an idea for the future, but for now, I'm much rather enjoying it outside.

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