May 162014

Crabapple Tree ©2014 April Siegfried

Spring has finally arrived in Chicago, after a long and unusually harsh winter.

Yes, these are “flowers”—so difficult to see and photograph in a way that is fresh, that’s not similar to the thousands of images already housed in the data banks of our mind’s eye. Their abundant beauty is so welcome, however, that I can’t help but try to express that experience.

Click on any image above to view large as slide show (with 5 second pause between each.)


Crabapple Tree
Panasonic DMC-FZ40; 1/25 sec @ f7.1, ISO 100 (handheld);
Focal length: 8.5mm (47mm EFL)

Crabapple Flowers
Nikon D300 ; 1/125 sec (handheld);
AF-S Nikkor 18-200 mm f/3.5–5.6 G ED plus
Canon 500D Close-Up Lens

Jun 042013

Crabapple Blossoms ©2013 by April Siegfried

When I started practicing Miksang three years ago, we were instructed to “boycott your default position”. Sometimes, however, I just have to capture classic beauty in a traditional way. The light on these flowers was perfect, and the raw file needed very little post-processing. I love when that happens!

Nikon D300; 1/125 sec @ f11, ISO 400 (handheld);
70-300 mm f/4.5–5.6 @ 240mm (360mm EFL); focus distance 1.78m

Jun 052012

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Pretty flowers I couldn’t resist! The violet blossoms in the foreground are campanula, or “Bellflower”.  🙂

Nikon D300; 1/60 sec @ f5.6, ISO 3200 (handheld);
70-300 mm f/4.5–5.6 @ 92mm (138mm EFL); focus distance 2.11m

May 152012

Gardenfall №4
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Panasonic DMC-FZ40; f5 @ 1/160 sec, ISO 80 (handheld);
Focal length: 26.8mm (155mm EFL)

Gardenfall №3
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Panasonic DMC-FZ40; f5 @ 1/160sec, ISO 80 (handheld);
Focal length: 26.8mm (155mm EFL)

As in the previous post, these were photographed through a glass “waterfall wall” at our local garden center.

May 132012

Gardenfall №1
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Panasonic DMC-FZ40; f4.5 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 100 (handheld);
Focal length: 26.3mm (159mm EFL)

Gardenfall №1
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Panasonic DMC-FZ40; f4 @ 1/125sec, ISO 100 (handheld);
Focal length: 23.8mm (144mm EFL)

Just the other day…I had great fun at our local garden center. These images were photographed through a “wall of water” fountain, capturing flowers in the background. There’s no manipulation involved, other than typical enhancement of the RAW file during post-processing.

At a price of $1,900 we won’t be buying one of those fountains! But maybe I can rig a hose on a storm window in our own garden… 🙂

May 092012

Spring Light
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Nikon D300; f11 @ 1/350 sec, ISO 200 (handheld);
70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 220mm (330mm EFL); focus distance 1.68m

Prairie Fire
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Nikon D300; f9.5 @ 1/125sec, ISO 3200 (handheld);
70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 165mm (247m EFL); focus distance 1.68m

“Dappled light” sounds pretty, doesn’t it? But high contrast and hard shadows have led me to dismiss it in favor of photographing subjects under soft, even lighting…

Until last month, during the Callway Gardens workshop, when a participant opened my eyes to possibilities I’d been ignoring. She was photographing the color and reflections of azaleas along a riverbank, playing with impressionist ripples in the water. What especially struck me, however, was the way she’d been drawn to one particular mound of blossoms spotlit by sunshine through a break in the surrounding trees. Ah-hah.

Thank you, for showing me the light!

Mar 222012

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Narcissus, squill, forsythia, azaleas, vinca, tulips, dogwood, magnolias, serviceberry, viburnum and crabapples—all are blooming together in Chicago right now.

“Slow down so we can enjoy it longer,” I wish! Yet this rare spring is incredibly lush.

Nikon D300; f8 @ 1/250 sec, ISO 640 (handheld);
105 mm f/2.8 (157mm EFL); focus distance 1.19m

Apr 302011

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Photographed on a rainy day with an umbrella in one hand and camera in the other, stabilization is great on the little Lumix!

However, with a wide-open aperture and relatively high ISO, details aren’t as sharp as I’d like. I went back to the same location this morning with the Nikon under overcast skies, but color was nothing like that first day. I’ll have to try again when it’s drizzling, using a rain sleeve to protect the camera—hopefully before the tree leafs out much more.

Panasonic DMC-FZ40; f3.4 @ 1/15 sec, ISO 400 (handheld);
Focal length: 17.5mm (97mm EFL)

May 222010

A spray of white crabapples blossoms in the shape of an "s".

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This image was photographed May 1st. I’m having too much fun shooting, and am behind on processing!

Actually, I feel the need to process as much as shoot because each informs the other. Processing shows up weaknesses (or strengths) in a composition that I didn’t necessarily see in the field, and can watch for next time.

Public feedback helps, too.  🙂

Dark green color swatch.Medium green color swatch.Light green color swatch.Yellow color swatch.

  • Dark green R:78 G:108 B:41
  • Medium green R:112 G:141 B:96
  • Light green R:156 G:175 B:148
  • Yellow R:191 G:166 B:76
May 092010

Detail of an ivy tree panorama.

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The image above is detail from a 7-frame panorama photographed in a very old cemetery. (See also a large view on black .)  Tripods are not allowed, so it was shot hand-held in portrait mode with a lot of overlap and wriggle room around the subject. To help reduce distortion, rather than panning I took several steps parallel to the wall between each frame.

Detail of an ivy tree panorama.

Further along was a completely different ivy tree. The image left is detail from a 5-frame panorama, photographed the same way. (Click image to view the full panorama or see also large on black.)

The light was high and hard that day so, inspired by Mark Johnson’s recent Photoshop Workbench: Salvaging Detail, I began processing with a foray into the Shadows/Highlights adjustment. It’s the first time I’ve used that feature, and am intrigued by what it can do!



Gray color swatch.Medium green color swatch.Light green color swatch.

  • Gray R:102 G:104 B:89
  • Medium green R:90 G:149 B:41
  • Light green R:162 G:211 B:84