I love the names of plants. Not the scientific names – I am neither a scientist nor a speaker of Latin so those names are like Greek to me. It is the common names that I really love, especially when they just fit.

Take this plant below. Its scientific name is Geum triflorum and I photographed it at Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico.  It is more commonly called Prairie Smoke or Old Man’s Whiskers. Now those are names even I can remember! Their seed heads do indeed seem to flow in the wind like smoke, and they do look like scraggly old whiskers, too.

I thought shooting it backlit in the fading evening light would bring out those “whiskers” quite nicely. I set up a couple of small LED’s behind the them to really make each little hair stand out and glow. Shooting front lit would have been totally boring. Like TOTALLY.  I usually use flash, but I have been using small LEDs more and more lately to photograph flowers, and I really like using them. I’ll do a more in depth post later.

Backlighting is especially effective with a dark background. The subject really stands out, and you can make your exposure without worrying about overexposing the background. Here, I got as lows as I could and the dark background behind didn’t even register. (You can also use a piece of dark black velvet).

Vermejo is an amazing place for wildflowers (among other things), and I am back next month leading a photo workshop there. If interested in going, click here!

Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) seed heads, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.

Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum) seed heads, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA. Canon 5D III. 180mm macro. ISO 3200. f/8 @ 1/125 second.