Spring colour

My Instagram feed seems to have taken on a monochrome look lately, so here’s some springtime colour for wildflower Wednesday

Flower roll-call:

  1. Pretty shooting stars – rare near Vancouver as they prefer drier conditions
  2. Skunk cabbage, also known as the swamp lantern – great name!
  3. Western trillium – barely blooming, I normally expect these to bloom before the fawn lilies
  4. Fawn lily buds – like glacier lilies, it’s not uncommon for them to produce a couple of flowers per stem
  5. White fawn lilies in bud and bloom – yay! The show is just beginning!

I start to get itchy photographic fingers about this time of year ever since I found my first fawn lilies at the very end of my photo-a-day project back in 2012. While Lighthouse Park is my favourite place to go look for them, I found a small patch growing in the Rainforest Garden at the UBC Botanical Garden a couple of years ago and – since I can get in for free – figured that it’d be worth checking out. And that’s exactly what I did last Sunday afternoon.

But it’s not just about the fawn lilies: the gardens have a little patch of Garry Oak ecosystem where other flowers bloom. Among the first out are the gorgeous pink shooting stars, and so perfectly named. In a few weeks it looks like the main flowers there will be nodding onion, but I’m hoping to find others too.

Of course, after a decade of hiking in BC, I now look forward to the sight (and, yes, smell) of the fresh skunk cabbage, their cheery yellow “lanterns” pushing up through marshy ground. And I always love seeing trillium – it doesn’t grow in abundance like it does in Ontario so it’s always a treat to find it growing. Again while Lighthouse Park has been my go-to spot for the longest time, I found many more blooming in Campbell Valley Regional Park last year.

On my travels that day I found a few more early flowers too, which I’ll save for another post. All in all, a pretty good afternoon, and it’s got me really in the mood for spring.

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Trillium

Western trillium is flowering now in Campbell Valley regional park. A nice quiet walk in the rain this morning: now to dry out the camera… And shoes!

I had vague recollections of trillium growing in Campbell Valley regional park (which were confirmed by me looking back at our Flickr photos from 2008), and seeing as I was out that way I decided to head over and go look for them. For once I remembered to put in the tripod and I was determined to actually use it too!

I took this shot with our Nikon D3200 – and yes, on said tripod – and I have to admit I’m really pleased with it, so much so that it’s actually restored my faith in our SLRs. I’ve been getting a bit fed up with our SLRs lately as I’m convinced the newer 18-55 doesn’t work too well on our (aging) D5000, our 55-200 has probably been dropped one too many times, and the D3200 doesn’t focus as reliably as the D5000. On top of that, our little Sony RX100II has been superb – when it’s in focus, it’s really in focus, and the image quality is great even at 100%. Plus it fits in a pocket. (I’ve probably taken more photos with that camera over the past year than with the SLR.)

Ever since we bought the D3200 I’ve felt that it’s been a simultaneously under- and over-specced camera. Under-specced in the sense that the number of focus points is small (leaving huge gaps between focus points), and over-specced when it comes to the 24 megapixel sensor. The problem with having 24 megapixels is that the camera has to be held really steady for it to be sharp at 100%, and for the most part, we shoot handheld and often in relatively poor light. Couple that with the uneven performance of the ultrawide Sigma 10-20 mm and we often came home with mis-focused, blurred, or otherwise less-than-sharp images. The best thing going for the D3200 is that it is light, and that we can occasionally get good enough shots to print quite large (36×12 and 20×16 are our largest so far).

And so it was with a little trepidation that I mounted the 18-55 on the D3200 and took it out flower-photographing. Even with the tripod, my hopes were not especially high. But I have to say that in addition to all the usual crappy shots I took today, when the camera got it right, it absolutely nailed it perfectly. My aim was to come home with one photo I was happy with: I have at least 3 to choose from now. Any issues I had were really more down to the fact that it was raining, so I couldn’t take too much time, and that the tripod was too short and too fiddly to get some of the compositions I was after (I only had my GorillaPod).

My only complaint with getting today’s shot is that a tilting screen would have really helped get the composition right. That and a new pair of eyes that can focus on something less than 2 feet from my nose…! I should probably also get an umbrella to shield the camera from the rain too.

The beginning of a year-long journey

Throwback Thursday to the day 5 years ago almost to the day when I embarked on a photo-a-day project, which I called ‘Once Around The Sun’ (for obvious reasons…). It pretty much started on a whim as I was exploring Lighthouse Park in search of fawn lilies. I didn’t find any that day, so I started with this unfurling trillium flower instead. Little did I know just what I was taking on 🙂 But, hey, now I have a year’s supply of TBT photos to choose from 🙂

The project turned into a blog too if you want to find out how it all ended: once-around-the-sun.blogspot.com.