Waist Deep in Water Lilies.

Wading In A Sea Of Pink, White, And Green.

This post is also serving double duty as my entry this week in the Weekly Photo Challenge. This weeks theme is “Inside.” The image below shows the outside of a soon to bloom fragrant water-lily. The image following that one shows the “Inside.” See, pretty sneaky huh?.

The Outside.

To Get Close…

To get close to one of my favorite floral photo subjects almost always requires getting wet. It might be only ankle-deep, but to get to that “perfect” flower, I’ve been known to go over my waist in the wet stuff. “Why not use a canoe or a kayak?” you might ask. One word, waves. In a kayak, no matter how still you think you’re sitting the boat will move creating camera movement along with ripples on the water, ripples that in turn cause subject movement. Add the two together and it gets pretty tough to get a sharp photograph.

…You Need To Get Wet.

So in the water, tripod in hand, I go. Once I’m set up and the image composed in the viewfinder, I simply stand still, it takes but a few seconds for the water to settle down enough to get your shot. The lily pads also help as a natural buffer to the water’s movement.

If you’re a little leery of the muck and any creepy crawlies lurking in the water you can wear waders, but I prefer to wade wet. Usually a pair of shorts and my Vibram Five Fingers is all my water-lily shooting wardrobe consists of.

The Inside.

Special Note: While looking through the viewfinder at the bright yellow stamen, you can actually see them unfolding as the flower opens. Pretty cool. 

Surprisingly, one of the hardest things I have to deal with when photographing these beauties isn’t getting to them at all. What makes getting good images of them is the light. These flowers are particularly sun-loving and don’t open up until the sun is well above the horizon and the light is starting to get harsh. A nice overcast day is your friend, but when the sun hits the flower just right they almost seem to glow from within. Wind is another enemy of making a good photograph, as it acts on the flower itself, as well as on the water, which in turn acts on the flower. If there is more than the occasional slight breeze, I go home to return another time.

One last piece of advice for anyone who wants to get wet for their water lilies. Make sure you empty your pockets of any and all valuables that don’t play well with water. Your wallet and cell phone will thank you.

Lastly, be careful, you never know who might be watching your every move.

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86 thoughts on “Waist Deep in Water Lilies.

  1. The trouble with your photography Jeff is that it’s consistently beautiful and I have to think hard for different ways to describe it every time I leave a comment! Love the lilies. 🙂

  2. These are marvelous, and up to your usual standard :). Your input about taking them is most useful. I had wind, and overcast clouds and again wind on my trip, but that did not stop me ;). I know you did not mind getting wet for your shots 😀 Thank you for another treat Jeffo.

  3. Love, love, L O V E! Jeff! These are some of my favorite flowers! I was photographing several today at the botanical gardens but was not about to get in the water 🙂 Truly stunning. It just make me happy looking at these! And I know what you mean about the yellow unfolding as the flower opens. There is nothing like it. For me, it’s intoxicating.

  4. Would I be right in calling it “not chasing a photo, but fishing a photo”? 😉 Btw, an a owl head banner pic is on now – and it warms my heart …. a very tender looking one 😀

    • Something like that 😛

      I rented a lens specifically for those owl shots. We rarely see them this far south, but this year there were numerous sightings of them. I’m not much of a “birder,” but I like my loons and my birds of prey!

      • What kind of lens is it??? DO TELL, DO TELL… Is it rented per day/hour or was it a friendly favour? Hubby started converting some old analogue lenses to fit a modern digital dslr, and now his coworkers are bringing him tons of old and seemingly useless stuff and he spends hours on end working on them in his den. One of those was used to take that “dreamy” photo of me in the Alps 😉

        • It was the Sigma 120-400 OS. I’m probably going to buy one when I can afford it! A great lens, and considering the Canon 100-400 is about $700 more, but I think NOT $700 better, I’ll go with the Sigma. I would LOVE a Canon 500 f4 for my wildlife, but a good used version 1 is about $6,000, and the new version 2 is about $11,000, it won’t be happening in my lifetime.

          I rented it for almost a month. It wasn’t very expensive either. A great way to try / use gear you either can’t afford, or will use so rarely that owning it isn’t justified.

          That’s pretty cool about hubby. I hope he is getting a little $$$ out of it and not doing it out of the kindness of his heart.

  5. Jeff, this is the most majestic collection of water lily images I’ve seen anywhere. Where is this? Wading through the water, getting wet and muddy seem to have paid off perfectly. Earlier this year I had a chance to ride on a boat and take pictures of lotus flowers up close at midday. The major problem was the light as you mentioned.

    And thanks for stopping by my blog.

  6. Does the last bit of advice come from personal experience? ;). I’ve been know to do the same thing in order to shoot a sunset, or walk ankle deep in mud to get to the tide pools. We’re a very sacrificed bunch us photographers, aren’t we? :). Lovely shots, as usual.

    • Thanks Belen. Nope not personal experience, just complete and utter paranoia. 😀 If you were to watch me get ready to walk in it would be very comical. And even though I KNOW my car keys, wallet and iPone are safely on dry land, I’m constantly checking my pockets, just in case.

      Agree 100% on that last part. The things we’ll do for a photograph, should probably have our heads examined, 😛

  7. Ahhh – so lovely Jeff! I took some shots of a water lilly pad today — no doubt yours are sharper and dared not go into the water!! ~ We didn’t have these beautiful pink lilies – just white and yellow… may try to compose something and post sometime next week perhaps… but I think you are right — to get an amazing shot of these lotus flowers – we need to get wet!! So nice to see this tonight!! 🙂 RL

    • Thank you again Robyn. I’ve had good results from dry land with a longer lens, but I do think to show them at their best you need to get a little wet and muddy 😉

      You want to know the strangest thing of all? They are one of my absolute favorite wildflowers to photograph, especially the pink ones since they don’t seem as common around here, but they are called fragrant water lilies, and I have no idea what they smell like. I keep for getting to stop and smell the flowers 😀

      • Oh would love to smell them too!! I’m still only using my little iPhone so ~ no long lens … just a basic zoom. I do have some add-on lenses for the iPhone though (wide angle/macro/fish eye) For my purposes thus far it’s been pretty ok … but certainly can see in your photos the advantage of the more sophisticated technology… perhaps one day… for now it’s all a creative process of discovery and healing for me. Enjoying all I can…. Much Love your way Jeff ~

  8. 🙂 I do indent what the scent is like now! I may post my lily pond shot later this eve…. Keep admiring yours … Especially the one Witt he mirror reflection! I’d I could only get close I wonder how well my iPhone would do! For feather and seashells Otha’s worked pretty well so …maybe…but have to get mucky first :). Thanks Jeff!

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