August 13, 2002

Planet Helianthus And so


Planet Helianthus

And so another summer garden draws prematurely to an end, going out with a dry-throated gasp and a dusty wimper, dehydrated from the ongoing drought, looking a bit like a shrunken head. It sure was love while it lasted.

This Sunflower picture, then, is symbolic of the end of things...summer's last hurrah, and probably the last in a string of 'bug cameos' from the garden. Of all the various insect images this summer, this one was hardest to capture, and least like what I had envisioned, not that the average casual viewer much cares for the technical considerations behind an image. I'll burden you with it, anyway.

Strongly backlit in the mid-afternoon sun, the ray flowers (yellow-petalled edges of the flower) were strikingly brilliant. The disk flowers (the parts that turn into edible sunflower seeds) were being swarmed by at least a dozen bumblebees that looked like so many carnival bumper-cars as they coursed over the flower, as it bobbed in and out of focus, in the breeze. (You DID know that members of the aster or sunflower family have 'composite' inflorescences, consisting of disk flowers and ray flowers, didn't you?)

So, a passer-by (of which we have a half-dozen, daily) would have seen a tall man standing on a 5-gallon plastic bucket in the corn, under an 8-foot sunflower, holding his cap in one outstretched hand (to keep glare off the lens), the camera in the other, up precariously close to a dozen bumblers, while teetering, sweating and cussing quietly to himself, and of course, to the bees.

Creative dilemma: expose for the rays which are in blinding sun. This throws the central part of the flower 2-3 stops underexposed, dark and without detail. Or, expose for the disk flowers and the bees, which, as you see here, puts the ray flowers into extreme overexposure, to the point of disappearing...as if the entire flower exists floating, unfixed and fading off into the ethers. Rather like the disk of the sun, sending out cosmic yellow petals into the depths of space. (a bit too saccharine, hmmm?)

It is an odd effect, but, seeing as it probably represents the temporary end of an era here on Goose Creek, I offer it to you as a garden's goodbye, and am already looking forward to next year's plantings, pictures, and vegetable-punditry. I hope you'll come back and see us for the next summer's crop.

Posted by fred1st at August 13, 2002 06:14 AM
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