"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
 

Summer Daylilies (3 of 3): Red, Orange, and Yellow

From “History of the Daylily” in The Illustrated Guide to Daylilies by Oliver Billingslea:

“The modern daylily is a highly evolved plant, the ancestors of which were species native to the temperate parts of central and northern Asia. According to the American Botanical Society, the genus consists of some 13-15 species of evergreen, semi-evergreen, and dormant herbaceous perennials found growing along the margins of forests, in mountainous areas, marshy river valleys, and meadowlands in China, Korea, and Japan, and occasionally into Manchuria and eastern Siberia….

“The ancient Chinese, in particular, used the species for food and medicine. The flower buds were palatable and nutritious, and the root and crown often served as an effective pain reliever…. Because its flowers were bright and cheerful, the daylily also came to symbolize for the ancients an outlet for grief, its primary effect an emotional one….

“Two species brought to America were the orange H. fulva, commonly known as the ‘roadside’ or ‘homestead’ lily, and H. flava, the ‘Lemon Lily’ of early twentieth century gardens.”

From Colour in My Garden (1918) by Louise Beebe Wilder:

“Among the most lovely and useful of yellow flowers are the Day Lilies (Hemerocallis). Their colour is very pure and fine, and runs the scale from mild lemon colour to strong fuscous orange. The flowering season of the different varieties covers a period of nearly three months, and few plants grow with such hearty good will in all sorts of positions….

“Yet I seldom see any save the common Lemon Lily (Hemerocallis flava) made any great use of in gardens, and this, though truly lovely, is usually relegated to out-of-the-way places where more capricious things have scorned to grow. The Orange Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) we commonly see decorating the roadside near to some old garden, but its colour is magnificent and it is well worth a place within the garden.”


Hello!

This is the last of three posts featuring photos of daylilies I took at Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens earlier this summer. The first post is Summer Daylilies (1 of 3): Burgundy and Yellow; and the second post is Summer Daylilies (2 of 3): Double-Double Orange-Orange.

The orange daylilies below are the “single” variation of the double Hemerocallis fulva that I showed in the second of these three posts.

Fuscous” — from the second quotation above — is a fun new word, don’t you think? I’d never heard it before, though perhaps it’s commonly used in Victorian-era botanical culture (or not). It means “dark” or “dark-hued” so let’s use it in a sentence. Here’s the Atlanta weather for today, which prompted me to increase the brightness on all these photos before posting them:

It was a fuscous and stormy day.

Pretty cool, huh?

Thanks for taking a look!








Summer Daylilies (2 of 3): Double-Double Orange-Orange

From “Daylilies by the Bouquetful” in One Man’s Garden by Henry Mitchell:

“Often I wonder how gardeners fared before the great surge of modern daylilies, as these are a mainstay of the summer garden. Most varieties last three weeks in bloom; that is, a well-grown clump with many flowering stems will show flowers for that long. And there are early and late kinds, so that the season is a good two months or even longer if very early and very late kinds are chosen. Daylily flowers range in size from one and a half to eight inches, on stems one to six feet high.

“Still, it is a mistake to think the daylily will take care of itself like a weed, as the wild Hemerocallis fulva does. That is the burnt-orange kind you see along alleys and at abandoned sites, where it persists along with chicory or dandelions….”

From Colour in My Garden (1918) by Louise Beebe Wilder:

“In Nature, broadly speaking, we find that red and scarlet and yellow are rare, given to us as stimulants, as vivid experiences. They are confined to sunset and sunrise skies, to autumn foliage and to flowers; while the ‘restful and reparative’ colours — blue, green, and violet, as revealed in the sky, the sea, the distance, and the great green setting of grass and trees — make up the beautiful commonplace of our daily seeing….

“Surely there is a lesson here. The constant perception of broad masses of emphatic, exciting colour would prove severely taxing, yet do we most surely need them here and there to bring out the quality of neutral colour, and to arouse the immobile beauty of the garden to glowing life.

“Yellow, orange, and scarlet flowers show to greatest advantage in full sunshine.”


Hello!

This is the second of three posts featuring photos I took of daylilies at Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens earlier this summer. The first post is Summer Daylilies (1 of 3): Burgundy and Yellow.

I’ve always referred to this particular daylily as “double orange” (or sometimes “double-double orange-orange” because it’s so large) — but discovered today that it is actually a variation of one called Hemerocallis fulva as you can also see if you do an image search for “double hemerocallis fulva” on Google.

I took a few pictures of similar daylilies last year when I hadn’t yet learned that daylilies are not actually lilies, so those older photos are mixed in with true lilies on this post: Lilies on Black Backgrounds (3 of 10). Ah, well, at any given time you only know what you know; and, as Bart Simpson would say: “Mistakes were made!

Thanks for taking a look!








Summer Daylilies (1 of 3): Burgundy and Yellow

From “Hemerocallis” in Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants In Your Garden by Noel Kingsbury:

“The name is from the Greek for ‘day’ and ‘beauty’ — a distinguishing mark of the genus is that the flowers open for only a day (hence, daylilies). The 18 species are found across Eurasia, with most in the Far East. The relationship of the Hemerocallidaceae to other formerly ‘lily family’ plants has been much disputed; current thinking puts Hemerocallis in its own family….

Hemerocallis species can be found in a wide range of habitats, including mountain meadow and coastal situations; the common factor is sun or light shade, with moderately high levels of moisture and fertility. These are clonal perennials, forming dense, competitive, persistent clumps and often surviving in abandoned gardens…. Although they are cold hardy, daylilies thrive particularly well in climates with hot, humid summers. They are listed as potentially invasive in some U.S. states. Hybridisation has resulted in a plethora of cultivars, which are divided into a variety of sections, based largely on flower form — trumpet, flat, flaring, star, spider, ruffled, etc.”


Hello!

This is the first of three posts featuring photos I took of daylilies at Oakland Cemetery’s Gardens earlier this summer.

These are the same daylilies as those in one of my posts from last year (see Lilies on Black Backgrounds (4 of 10)), but this year’s colors were really intense — with burgundy, especially, much more saturated than it was in the earlier photos. Coincidentally, burgundy and yellow are two of the trim colors on my house; the third color — you may have guessed it — is green! Scroll toward the bottom if you’d like to read about how I created these images.






With this series of daylily photos (as well as some other daylily and lily-lily photos I’m still working on) I decided in advance of my shoots that I’d likely remove the backgrounds behind the flowers in post-processing. With that in mind, I knew I’d want to get as close-in as possible but also capture as much front-to-back flower detail as I could. So I used narrow apertures — that is, high aperture numbers like f/19 and f/27 — along with a high ISO (ISO 1600!) to get the results I wanted for the original image.

While it’s certainly true that such high ISOs introduce noise, it’s also true that tools like Adobe Lightroom do a decent job of removing that noise while retaining an acceptable level of detail. And, as a bit of a contrarian, every time I see and article describing some element of photography that you should avoid — like using high ISOs — I want to try it and see what happens. I’ve written about this previously: see Lilies on Black Backgrounds: A Photo Project (1 of 10), where I describe how I use this approach to manage color and detail when taking photographs in outdoor, natural light — especially when it’s overcast or I’m working in a tree-covered area (which both help minimize shadowy contrasts).

Below you can see the three photos from the last gallery above, and their transition from the original RAW image in the first column; to the second column where I’ve finished color, contrast, and tone adjustments; to the last column where I removed the background by “painting” it black.

Because I used such narrow aperture settings, the images initially contained a lot of extra behind-the-flower detail, most of which looks pretty messy but gave me the option, in this case, of including some of the better-looking daylily’s leaves in each final image. It took a good bit of patience — and a few hours of eyeball-straining mouse-poking — to reveal some of the leaves in these photos. Lightroom’s automatic subject-selection (see Lightroom’s Masking Tool for an overview) correctly treated the flowers as the primary subject, so the leaves require manual brushing to remove the black overlay. Despite the effort required, though, it was a lot of fun to figure out what parts of the background to include — and these leaves added some shapely flourishes to the images.

Select the first image below if you would like to slide through the transitions.


Thanks for reading and taking a look!

Stalking the Baja Daylily

Sounds exotic, no? This is where the elusive Baja Daylily lives, in its own pot in front of my Chapel Hill Yellow Lantana.

I took several sets of similar photos over a period of three hours yesterday, to see (and capture) the variations in morning sun on the lily’s flower, and to learn how the shutter speed and aperture could be changed based on the intensity of the light. Lighting is optimal at the center of my courtyard from about 8:00 AM until 11:00 AM this time of year: it brightens the area without creating harsh shadows or causing blowout of detail surrounding the subject where something in the background catches too much light (which can be difficult to adjust out of the image).  The light also helped, I hope, with focus: one trick I use when taking closeup or macro photos is to set the camera’s shutter to continuous advance, to increase the chances that I’ll end out with a sharp image — since camera shake or a little breeze can easily throw a close subject out of focus. When doing this, I usually end out with four or five nearly identical images each time I take a shot and have reasonable success of being satisfied with one or two. I could use a tripod, but I have fears of knocking it over, and it’s harder to flower-stalk while having to reposition a tripod.

Since I was taking these at home, I headed back inside after each set and imported the photos into Lightroom. I reviewed these sets at least twice. First time through, I deleted any that struck me as out of focus or had some other problem (like my dog’s tail in the frame, lol). I tried not to dwell on any of them during the first cut, but just reacted to an immediate impression of the focus quality. On subsequent passes, I took a closer look at those remaining and threw out a few more based on their lack of clarity or sharpness. Since I wear eyeglasses with progressive lenses I have to be careful to look at the photos on screen at the correct angle, otherwise I end out convincing myself that an image is clear when my glasses are causing an illusion of sharpness that isn’t there. Out of four trips into the back yard and about 200 shots, I ended out with 75 photos to mess around with in Lightroom. That’s surely one of the big advantages of digital photography, how you can just keep trying and learning, trying and learning … and the only thing it costs (well, except for the gear and the software) is your time. For me, it ends out becoming a workflow or process not unlike creating the draft of a piece of writing: you start by letting your ideas flow, capture them as best you can, then begin iterations of reworking and improving based on the skills and tools you have.

And then … and then….

After lunch, I started picking through the 75 remaining photos, with the general idea that I wanted some for this blog post viewed from straight-on, left side, right side, then zooming closer and closer into the center of the flower. I ended out eliminating two-thirds of my photography work from earlier in the day. The remaining photos required some spot removal, a bit of cropping and straightening, minor adjustments to exposure or color, and sharpness adjustments to guide your eye to the focal point of the image. This is only the second time I’ve taken a set of RAW photos instead of JPEGs and I could definitely see the advantages for shots like these, especially when I intentionally under-exposed some photos to get a longer depth of field and when I cropped some with negligible loss of detail.

That was fun! Thanks for reading and enjoy a slideshow by clicking on any of the images below.

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