I actually saw this seed detach from a milkweed pod and float away on a breath of wind. I tracked its flight until it got stuck – ever so slightly – on the seed head of a nearby grass plant. I had just enough time to plop my tripod down, focus quickly, and squeeze off one shot before the gentle breeze lifted the seed again and carried it out of sight.
A butterfly milkweed seed clings (briefly) to the seed head of sideoats grama. Lincoln Creek Prairie – Aurora, Nebraska.
It was one of those rare, but gratifying, times when I actually caught a fleeting image with my camera. Near misses are much more common – see earlier blog posts on photographing prairie dogs and bees, for example… In fact, I often have to remind myself not to get so wrapped up in the (often fruitless) attempt to capture an image photographically that I forget to simply enjoy the moment.
This time, I got both the image and the enjoyment, which means I get to pass both along to you.
Sometimes the simplest things make the best photos. The below photo was taken right outside my back door, and is just two fallen sycamore leaves overlapping each other.
When photographing leaf patterns, I often have a hard time finding a composition that captures what really draws me to a certain leaf or group of leaves. Often, I have to pause for a moment and define what it is about a particular scene that’s actually appealing. Is it the color or pattern of one particular leaf or the juxtaposition of multiple leaves together? That helps me decide what the appropriate scale is for the photograph. Many times, I end up getting closer and shooting a smaller scene – to scale down to the real essence of the subject. Other times, I back up and either try to capture the way several objects interact visually with each other, or the way a subject is set off against its surroundings. (I also abandon a lot of potential shots because I just can’t find a way to make them work.)
With this photo, I decided that what I really liked about these two leaves was the shape of the line that separated them. When I tried to compose a photo showing both leaves in their entirety, the power of that line was diminished, but when I got closer, the line dominated the photo – and that’s what I wanted.