Canada Lilies- A Summer Treat

Canada Lilies (Lilium canadense) have become a rarity with the soaring population of Whitetail Deer in the Finger Lakes.  The gardeners at the Cornell Plantations would grow them in the greenhouse and transfer them to the Mundy Wildflower Garden only to have the deer destroy them. I recall finding my first bloom, and the whitetail doe brazenly standing nearby ready to trim it to the ground.

It was futile to chase the deer away.  Now, with the wildly successful deer fence protecting a large portion of  Mundy, these and many more wildflowers have a chance to display they beauty in full.

So, when I arrived at Mundy WFG early on Tuesday for the weekly volunteer work party, I first scouted the garden for new blooms and found this amazing Canada Lily with eleven blooms.  It stands over 6 feet tall, displaying the result of rich soil and no deer.  I’d need a step-ladder to get close-ups of this plant’s flowers.

Fortunately,  I found two plants in bloom. The second, while smaller, was less elevated and allowed me to explore the composition more creatively. So, I spent more time with the smaller subject which also swayed less in the stiff breezes.  I had to pump up the sensor speed in order to stop the motion.  Fortunately, my Nikon D800 plus the Lightroom 4 noise reduction helped considerably.  (But, I am watching the weather closely for a calm morning to return for more photos.)

For the photographer, the major challenge was the bright sky that made it difficult to get a balanced image with the blooms in good color.  My solution was two-fold. First, I constantly explored minor changes in position to locate green leafy areas behind the plants.   That was easier with the smaller plant.   Second, I used the on-camera flash set to minus one  exposure value (-1 ev).  One of the big improvements of digital photography is the ability to review the exposure immediately. This led me to reduce the main exposure by 0.7 ev so that the background received less exposure and the subject was put it a warm, balanced light relative to the brightly illuminated tree canopy.  It worked.

The result is a beautifully back-lit image with the petals glowing and the inner flower showing its lush details.

The smaller plant actually had two blooms, and became intrigued with the newly opening one.

So, for other members of the Cayuga Nature Photographers, I hope you can get to MWFG shortly to see these amazing flowers.  The best blooms are near the rail fence just above the old pond’s dam.  Step careful to avoid trampling other plants and be alert for flags set to identify important plants.   There is tall grass, so shorts are definitely unwise.

All images except the first used Nikon 105 mm micro lens and Gitzo tripod.


Paul Schmitt

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