As we inch toward fall there are not a lot of flowers around to photograph. Most of the summer flowers came and went quickly and the few fall flowers around are coming early. This is the time of year I like to hike along the Red Cedar State Trail to photograph the spotted and pale Touch-me-nots. It’s been a challenge this year.
I like to try and photograph them when they are covered by heavy dew but they started blooming early this year. Normally they peak the end of August and the first part of September. Because of the early bloom we have not had many days when the flowers have been covered by dew. I have the added problem that I live on a ridge about 10 miles from the Red Cedar Trail so it’s difficult for me to determine if there is a heavy dew out. I usually ask my wife to report back after she drives along the river on her way to work.
An added problem this year has been the constant wind. We seem to have had wind all spring and summer this year. Wind eliminates the heavy dew and makes it difficult to photograph the small flowers. Touch-me-nots typically grow in a dense tangle of flowers so in order to photograph them it is usually necessary to take multiple shots of the flower. To do this I use as short a depth of field as possible then take multiple shots changing the focus slightly with each shot. This allows me to get the entire flower in focus while eliminating other flowers and the dense vegetation. Once I load them onto my computer I combine the multiple shots into a single image using a program called Helicon Focus. Unfortunately this only works if there is no wind blowing. If the wind is blowing you will get an image with ghosting.
An added problem just about every year is the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Typically they mow one swath along each side of the trail during the early summer. Unfortunately about midsummer they mow a double swath along the trail. This forces me to move deeper into the tangled mass of flowers to get a shot. It makes it difficult to get the tripod situated without knocking the dew off of the flowers or creating movement.
In spite of the challenges I have been able to get a few photos so far this year.