Archive for the ‘Seed pods’ Category

Like Alice,  we were wandering about, all happily fall-ish and then Wham! Down the snowy rabbit hole of winter.

Last year, I found milkweed to be endlessly fascinating and could NOT get enough milkweed shots. This year, apparently the meh cultivar dominated because I was SO over my milkweed phase.

Until this snow. Yup. I’m crushing on milkweed again.






Having read the title to this post, I’ll bet you are already yelling “I know! I know! Wabi Sabi in the Prairie with a macro lens!”

And you would be correct.

I posted earlier that the wind and rain were going to wash any remaining color from the landscape and they did indeed. However, having recently rediscovered my 60mm lens, I wasn’t quite ready to give up on crawling around in the underbrush.

Was I doomed, a Crash Test Dummy with a Camera,  to run heedlessly and headlong into a Wall O’ Brown?

(Are you feeling a certain frisson of fear as you read this?)

Not to worry:  what was lost in the brilliant color department was more than compensated for with an abundance of textures, shadows and forms. New stars stepped up to take their own turns in the spotlight.

The lovely trio above is a collaboration of two goldenrod and one of the myriad variants of Prairie Sunflower that populate this part of the arboretum. (Officially, this section is called the Keith White Prairie.)

I think that the leafy stalks which follow are all goldenrod.

The next gentleman needs to stand alone, regal in golden armor, every inch a nobleman.

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A couple of follow-ups:  I drove to Shawano Monday morning  to see my student teacher and I brought my camera so I could revisit the Farmers’ Brewery downtown.

I circled the building a few times (carefully skirting the burr-laced backlot) but as so often happens, I realized that I’d already taken all the exterior shots that I wanted.

So I took myself to lunch. Am I flexible or what?

On my way home, I discovered that there are flash mobs of milkweed dancing exuberantly all along Highway 29.  Patch after patch. Big patches. Appears that this has been a banner year for good old  Asclepias syriaca.

Today was just a veritable carnival of learning.

Now I am going in search of large brick and cement and glass structures, just to balance off the last run of macros.

This will take a few days.


Latin name: Asclepias syriaca

Common milkweed.

Common?  Perhaps, but I would suggest that Asclepias syrica possesses a most uncommon beauty at this time of the year.

Milkweed produces seeds which are packed in tight overlapping rows inside a large pod, each individual seed topped by silky hairs called pappus. When the pod finally ripens, it splits open and the seeds are offered to the wind.

That’s the science/biology read on milkweed. Because I can’t look at anything without overlaying a story, I see those crowds of seeds rolling and tumbling out of the pod and I swear I can hear peals of female laughter.

All that wild and flying hair?  Whatever a milkweed is at any other point in its life, it is nothing but joyfully feminine at this moment.

I’m spreading my milkweed pictures across three posts because I think that you can be lured into looking at 4 or 5 pictures at a time but you are very likely to bolt if offered 15 in a clump.

Today’s macros are from Tuesday’s outing in the arboretum.  I’m using a 60mm lens on a Canon 7D (hand-held) and, while I was tempted once or twice, no plants were rearranged to meet my needs as a photographer.

Okay,  I snapped off some intrusive twigs  and gently blew away a spider or two, but no MAJOR redecorating.

Nothing further from me: I believe the milkweed speaks quite eloquently for itself.

Coming up:  “Milkweed Glamour Shots.” (Wow! Talk about your niche marketing!)

I was so pleased with the results of my 50mm walk that I thought I’d take my 60mm out for a stroll. The 60 was my favorite and I used it often…until I set out to learn the 50.  They both are so similar that I had forgotten just how exquisitely the 60mm can capture macro shots.

So, I was back in the arboretum Tuesday afternoon,  shooting a leaf here, a twig there and the odd berry in-between, just trying to get the feel of the lens again.

I did a lot of squatting, kneeling and crawling around trying to get the plants from the best possible angles. I mention this because I don’t generally use a tripod. I absolutely know I should but I hate schlepping it around: it’s heavy, I’m lazy. A gentle breeze can have the crazy jerky effect of a windstorm on a leaf viewed through a macro lens, so I had some “oh, drat!” moments, trying to frame up some of the pictures.  Ultimately, I’m happy with the results, despite often finding myself in Extended Triangle position trying to get up close and personal with a pod.

When I found the first patch of milkweed, I knew it was going to be a good day.

Today, the Big Picture. Tomorrow, macros.

Most of the milkweed stalks were stripped bare at this point, but just a few still had leaves, albeit dried. I think the mottling looks like runic markings.

Or snakeskin.

Or milkweed tattoos.

In early fall, you can often find actual piles of these milkweed bugs on some plants. This loner hung around long after the party was over. (Probably fell asleep in the bathroom. Awkward!)

Next up: Milkweed Macros, followed by Milkweed Glamour Shots