Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Archive for November 21st, 2018

Cardinal flower: a cluttered view and one that’s less so

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On the pleasant afternoon of November 1st we traipsed along the boardwalk around one side of the pond at River Place. I was surprised when I looked down over the railing and saw bright red atop a lone cardinal flower plant (Lobelia cardinalis). In photographing plants I rarely aim straight down because that’s the most likely way to end up with lots of clutter in a picture, as you see here in the photo I took with my 24–105mm lens zoomed to its maximum focal length:

Normally I reduce background clutter in a wildflower portrait by getting close and aiming horizontally, or by getting low and aiming upward. In this case the plant was growing in shallow water, in addition to which the railing and the raised boardwalk prevented me from getting close to the cardinal flower. What to do? I switched to my 100–400mm lens, zoomed it to its maximum, leaned as far as I could over the railing, and then even stretched my arms out so my eye was no longer at the camera’s viewfinder. Guessing at framing my subject and relying on the camera’s autofocus, I ended up with this portrait:

The cardinal flower ranges across an enormous territory from Mexico to Canada, including California through Maine in the United States, as you can verify on a map. You’ve got to hand it to a plant that tolerates the winters in Quebec as well as the summers in Nevada. That last location strikes me as especially surprising, given that this species has to grow near water.

© 2018 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

November 21, 2018 at 4:55 PM

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