I think the tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park is both a beautiful and sacred landscape. Early morning light highlights the rocks and texture of the environment. Access is achieved by driving up the Trail Ridge Road which is the highest road in any national park. This is truly a land of extremes. Strong, frequent winds and cold temperatures help limit what plants can grow here. However, during July, there is a garden of flowers about 1-3″ tall that grow in the tundra. Many plants are dwarfed – yet, there are a few with blossoms. Below is a close-up of the Alpine Sunflower that I was able to photograph with my macro lens. On this particular morning, there was very little wind and I was able to use a long exposure to capture depth-of-field.
This is the time of year when I can drive to the tundra at Rocky Mountain National Park. The tundra area is 12,000 feet high and a very harsh environment. There are no trees and the wildflowers that grow are only about an inch in height. Yet, there is a delightful garden during the summer growth season. Below are the buds of the Moss Campion ready to burst with one lone wildflower already in bloom. This is the time of year when I practice macro photography and learn to experience, again, the great quality of patience.
Here are additional photographs of the intimate landscape of tundra flowers. It is July and the flowers are a spectacular array of color in the tundra environment. Since it is very windy in the tundra, macro photography is quite the challenge. It was probably around 30 degrees the morning that I photographed these flowers. The top featured image is a medley of Western Wallflower, Alpine Phlox and Moss Campion. The image in this post is Dwarf Clover. Enjoy!
I still love the challenge of macro photography. It involves not only a connection to the earth (for example, the wind) but also one’s choice regarding focus. This part of macro photography always reminds of my life – my choices and what I am choosing to focus on with my thoughts and time. I know that this is a recurring theme on my blog. However, the process of life involves constant diligence.
Macro photography is one of my favorite types of photography. I love to see and feel the complex design and shapes of flowers. I love to feel intimate with the landscape. Also, macro photography involves a lot of patience waiting for the wind to be still as many of these photographs require exposures of 1 second or longer. I used a 60 mm macro lens for these columbine images and two of them were photographed immediately following an afternoon rain. So, the raindrops were still visible and clinging to their newly-chosen home. Please check out my “New Images Gallery” to see more columbine that were photographed during this photo excursion. The key to good composition with macro photography is creating a background that is not distracting to the main flower. So, be aware of depth of field and intentionally create blur in the background with camera settings. Also, getting key elements of the flower in focus (for example: pistil, petal and raindrop in the featured photograph) creates the “wow” factor.
These flowers are located on the side of a church in Lyons. I have been seeing them every day for a few weeks and they make me happy with delight with each new viewing. I soon realized that I started hearing myself sing the lyrics to the recent popular song by Pharrell Williams titled: “Happy” when I was walking by these flowers. So, I offer you this song and delight for your day with these happy flowers.
“It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do…”
Are you striving to attain good depth of field and well-focused images with nature photography? Well, here are some hints.
- Set your camera on manual mode and select a high aperture number (usually F16 to F20 would achieve good results).
- Use a tripod. If you select high aperture numbers, it means that you will be synchronized to use a slower shutter speed and the camera needs to be stable.
- Visually determine the depth of field (near and far edge) of the image. For example, if you are photographing a flower, you might want the front edge of the flower to the rear edge of the flower to be in focus. In other words, choose the composition of the image that you would like to be in focus.
- Visually determine 1/3 the distance from the near edge of the image that you would like to be in focus. Focus on this spot and use manual focus to be accurate. However, when you look through the viewfinder, the image will appear out of focus. This is normal.
- If you have a depth of field preview button on your camera, condition yourself to use it when doing macro work. Before taking the actual photograph, you can check your focus and depth of field by depressing the depth of field preview button on your camera.