Flower portraits

My current project for the photography course I am following is to take a “flower portrait”.   I have been taking pictures of wild flowers overs the past few months, but this is different.   Just one flower, to fill the frame with an uncluttered background.  I discovered it was easier said than done.

On my way south to London in July I tried some pictures of thistles in Westmorland.   But I did not take enough time and although the flower looks fine, there is a distracting spot of purple in the background.


Back home again I set out to see what I could do in my garden.   We planted some Cosmos “Sonata White” near our front door and they have been flowering beautifuly all summer.  Cosmos  is a native of Mexico. Along with taking gold, silver, and other riches from Mexico, 16th century Spanish explorers sent hundreds of cosmos back to Madrid. Cosmos wasn’t collected until the late 1700s, however, and the flower made its way to England in 1789, thanks to the Marchioness of Bute, wife of the English ambassador to Spain.

Cosmos “Sonata White”

I was down on my hands and knees with a little paintbrush cleaning up the flower I had chosen – chasing off the little bugs and the odd bit of dirt left by the rain.  The background had to be sorted out too.  Here it was a piece of card helpfully held in place by Flora, my grandaughter who was roped into the project.

My next subject was a pansy.  I planted plansies in the autumn in pots and they have been blooming right through.   I picked my subject and again used coloured card to mask the distracting background that would otherwise have been there – house wall, other flowers and leaves.


Finally, I thought an orchid which Mary was given when i retired 18 months ago might be suitable.   It had come into flower while we were on holiday in July.  I found it hard to get just the right angle on the two flowers in bloom with the buds on the same stem. I tried several angles and this is the one i liked best.   This time the pot with the orchid was placed on a stool in the middle of the grass with the dark leaves of a conifer providing the background.

Orchid starting to bloom

I have still to choose which one to submit.

While taking these flower portraits I managed to catch a bumble bee foraging among the pansies.  I have become more aware of bumble bees this year since reading a delightful book by a Bumble Bee expert, Dave Golouson from Sirling Univeristy, called  a ” A Sting in the Tale”.  Well worth a read.   Although I have read the book and have a chart of bumble bees from a magazine on my desk, I still find it difficult to identify which is which.

Bumble bee – but what sort?

While looking for flower subjects in my brother-in-law’s garden near Alloa, I was distracted by this Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.   They used to be very common, but I have not seen many around Hatton this year.  The flowers were forgotton as I hunted the butterfly!

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly


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