Friday, March 18, 2011

Heucheras, Hostas and More, Oh, My!

I was out in the yard again today. All the leaves that had been piled under the maple tree, on the west side of the yard, made their way to the curb, where they will be picked up by the city.  When I moved to the east side of my lot, I became distracted by the Mop-head Hydrangea bush, which still bore last year's blossoms, now skeletonized and dried to a pale tan. Those had to go, so I worked for some time getting the 46 year old shrub trimmed back into a semblance of order; lots of new growth there. That task 'shot my wad' and I had to retreat inside without raking the east half of the yard (but see end of this post.*)

I wrote yesterday that  some of my plants are up/newly leafed, etc., among them my Hostas and Heuchera, or Coral Bells. The photo above shows one of the Heuchera with Hosta shoots behind and to the left. The next photo is a closer look at the Southern Comfort Heuchera. The copper-colored leaves are beautiful, I think.

All photos should enlarge with a click, if you're interested.

I actually stopped to count the Hosta clumps today; I think I said yesterday that there were ten of them, but I counted only seven while I was mulching around the plants with pine needles (generously contributed by my across the street neighbor whose back yard is full of pine trees.) Right now, all that can be seen of the Hostas are these spiky shoots, but there will soon be leaves.
 Before I came back into the house after taking the above photos, I thought I might get some close-ups of the blooms on my Japanese Maple tree. Although quite small, I think they are pretty.  In the process of taking the photos, I made a discovery about my camera. Why this particular effect occurred, I do not know; someone with more photographic experience than I can probably furnish a simple explanation. Both the photo to the left and the one below were taken within seconds of each other. There was still light in the sky, as is evident at left.

My camera was in Macro mode (I was not using my Macro lens, just the camera setting). I activated the flash to take a photo of the same group of blossoms, and .... huh?  It looks like it was taken in the dead of night. (Photo below.) I love the effect, but I don't understand why it happened.

I tried it again on another cluster. Photo to the left - no flash. Photo below - flash.

Inquiring minds want to know -- and they really would like to know without having to read a photography manual (can you say "lazy?")  Anyone out there who would care to explain? Preferably in words of no more than two syllables?

* The east side of the yard: When I returned from a Friday evening church service (we have more services than usual during Lent), I found that the east side of my yard had been raked clean. ??  Some good fairy had been busy.  Making a guess at the person to whom I should be thankful, I phoned Gardening Daughter. Yes, it was she that I had to thank for finishing this tiresome chore. Now I can concentrate on the back yard.

Tomorrow is also a day.


StitchinByTheLake said...

What a sweet thing for your daughter to do. I've got three children but volunteering for yard work isn't on their agenda! blessings, marlene

richies said...

Our Hostas have just poked through the ground the last few days.

An Arkies Musings

Abby said...

Yes, 'Southern Comfort' is beautiful. Most of my hostas and coral bells are on the north side of the garage - must check on them today, although your clime is way ahead of mine. Pine needles from neighbors - why didn't I think of that?

Tracy said...

I think there is nothing as lovely as flowers and plants and shrubs and trees...definitley reminding us that God's work is everywhere...beautiful plants and I'm so glad your daughter came to help-I know you were thankful!

Arkansas Patti said...

I envy your hostas. I just have no luck with them.
Can't help with that strange camera shots. I am still stuck on the "easy" mode of mine.

rhymeswithplague said...

I don't have a clue about your photography questions, but I did want to say that your skeletonized, dried-to-a-pale-tan, last year's Mop-head Hydrangea blossoms are often used in these parts as indoor floral arrangements.

I have not gotten to my backyard yet....

George said...

I wish I could help you with an explanation for the way your flash worked, but I can't. I guess we'll just have to leave it as one of life's little mysteries.
I haven't seen any signs of our Hostas yet, but I'll have to check.

Marvin said...

Those copper-colored leaves are beautiful.

The effect you achieved when using your camera's flash is typical for any camera used in the Point and Shoot mode. (I'm not putting down PS. That's where I usually start, and is often where I finish too.) Your camera calculates the flash intensity needed for where it is focused. Light intensity for a flash declines rapidly over distance. If you're in macro and focused on something close, the flash intensity is calculated to only illuminate that object. If the ambient light is a little low and the background non-reflective, the background "absorbs" the light from the flash and will usually go completely black. Your camera simply isn't producing a strong enough flash to illuminate anything beyond the point of focus.

If you play around with manual settings, there are ways to consider both ambient light and light from the flash so that the flash only "fills in" the dark places on your subject.

Here is a discussion of the subject in greater, but still understandable, detail.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Marvin Thank you for the information about the flash! That makes perfect sense to me. I knew there had to be a (relatively) simple explanation. Cameras are far smarter than I.