Blue Flowers | A Calming Beauty
The Beauty of Blue Flowers
All flowers are beautiful, but there is an elegance and calmness about blue flowers. I've been photographing all forms of nature for some time, but I keep coming back to close-up or macro photography of flowers, and invariably taking pictures of those vivid, light or bright blue blooms.
What is it about blue flowers or even just the color blue? I can tell you that blue is the only color that keeps its character in all of its tones, in other words it always stays blue no matter how dark or light it gets. However, take red for example, when darkened it becomes brown and lightened various shades of pink, and the other primary colors behave in a similar manner.
It's said that men favor the color blue more than women, but all that aside, I love taking photos of blue flowers. From those dreamy bluebell woodland scenes in early summer, to the stunning alpine Spring Gentians growing happily in the unique limestone landscape of the Burren region in the west of Ireland nearby, the tiny blue flowers of each are magnificent.
Flower name: Nigella Damascena or Love-in-a-mist - full size available from FineArtAmerica.com
Created on 21 May 2013
Updated on 2 Jan 2014
All photos © Rob Hemphill
Our Own Bluebell Woodland
Never taken for granted
As a youngster, I used to wander through the bluebell woods on our farm and play either hide and seek or build woodland structures with friends. Little did I realize then that one day it would be the bluebells themselves that would take center stage for me.
My mother has always been an avid and knowledgeable gardener, taking after her father who had been a professional market gardener. She would always take any opportunity in waylaying us kids to come and help in her beautiful garden. Whether it was digging a flower bed, planting annuals or basic weeding, she was a master - or should I say mistress - at delegation!
This way of communal assistance for the good of the household, by grasping an opportunity when it presented itself was soon to be adopted by both my sister and me when we raised our respective families. So, now whenever there is a family gathering of useful numbers, you can bet your bottom dollar that a work party may ensue. I'm sure this happens in many families as it get back to the way our tribal roots would have worked - help for the common good.
Anyhow, my woodland escapades continue to this day, but my friends and cousins aren't with me now; instead I roam with my trusty Nikon D90 DSLR camera (and a bunch of lenses), and we can play for hours amongst the gently swaying bluebells.
Blue Flower Seeds
You can imagine 'a bug's life' in a woodland like this with plenty of leaf litter and fallen down branches all around, and you can see what a great place it was for 'a kid's life' as well!
Why is Blue Such a Calm Color?
A wander off the garden path!
Blue is a color that both men and women of all ages favor, and it's the one often chosen as a favorite by many. Known to have a calming effect, the numerous shades of blue convey many associations, first and foremost that of intelligence and stability, followed by importance and confidence.
It's neither a sombre color nor a sinister one, but a very middle of the road and conservative one. Used in uniforms by figures of authority such as the police, or in suits of important business people, the color in all its various shades, above all conveys unity and stability.
Many web designs choose different shades of blue for their sites, it's all about simplicity, clarity and efficiency. Well known blue logos are Facebook, Twitter, VW, Intel and Samsung.
A final interesting fact is that Blue is the favorite color of over half of the world's population.
I have a number of flower and gardening books, and this is one of my favorites. Whether you're dealing with casual or formal gardens, this book will show you how to incorporate flowering plants into either for the maximum impact. The beautiful photographs illustrate the text which covers numerous different situations in the garden.
There is an A to Z guide of more than 700 plants specially selected for the flower garden.
Other books written by Hobhouse are Color in Your Garden and Garden Designs.
Good Camera For Flower Photography
Nikon D90 DSLR
The camera used to take all these photos is a Nikon D90 DSLR. This is one of the best entry level cameras for those wanting to take that step up from a point-and-shoot camera.
I have several lenses for varying shots, such as:
1. Wide angle zoom lens - this is the lens that remains on the camera most of the time due to its versatility.
2. Telephoto zoom lens - I use this one for anything in the distance that needs to be brought up closer. It's great for taking shots of animals and birds that are hard to get near.
3. Macro lens - I love this lens as it's the one that I have most fun with getting in close to nature, and anything else for that matter. It's a tricky lens to master - or at least the focusing is!
Cornflower - Centaurea cyanus
In Europe, the Cornflower used to grow as a weed in fields of crops, like barley wheat, oats and rye, but due to the high usage of herbicides in intensive agriculture, the plant is now endangered. On the plus side, in other areas of the world it has become popular as an ornamental plant due to the promotional efforts of horticultural organizations.
Other names for the pretty Cornflower are Bachelor's button, Bluebottle and Basket flower.
If you adore flowers, then this book is a treat. Each flower has been photographed close up so that every bit of detail can easily be seen.
The photographs were commissioned for Vogue, and the project took seven summers to complete. It is a work of art.
Muscari - Grape Hyacinth
Muscari is a perennial bulbous plant with densely packed blue spikes, which resemble tiny bunches of grapes soon after berry set in the summer time.
I captured this shot just as a shower of rain had passed. You can see a small spider taking shelter under one of the blooms on the right near the top. The height of the whole flower is only 2 inches or so.
Blue Flower Phone Cases
Omphalodes - Blue-eyed Mary, Navelwort
This is one of the best middle-of-the-range tripods for enthusiastic photographers.
I have one and it's so sturdy for all the punishment a tripod can get.
A variety of heads are available as well, so choose the one that suits your method of photography the most.
I can tell you that the 322RC2 on the left is so versatile enabling you to get to any position for any shot, great device!
Manfrotto Tripod Heads
The Clematis family are one of my most favorite climbing plants. There are so many varieties producing an array of different colored flowers, some just one color, others striped or variegated. They add fantastic color to a patio wall or garden trellis, and always seem to produce copious numbers of flowers in a season.
Centaurea Montana - Cornflower, Knapweed
This gorgeous flower is described as escaping from gardens with ease, which means that it has established itself widely throughout North America, the British Isles and Scandinavia. There are up to 600 species of this thistle-like herbaceous plant in the Asteraceae family.
It reminds me of some sea-life creature like a starfish with crab claws awaiting to strike at a passing prey.
Brunnera Macrophylla - Siberian bugloss, heartleaf
My mother has this plant all over her garden, it creates such harmony in a border linking all the foliage and flower colors together. The flowers are fairly similar to Forget-me-nots.
A great plant for groundcover in the garden also loving shady, damp areas - ideal for us in Ireland!
Common Milkwort - Polygala vulgaris
On my regular trips to the Burren not far away, I often see swathes of Milkwort growing in and around the roadside verges or beside the rocky limestone plateau. This amazing area draws botanists and geologists from all over the world to study its diverse flora, fauna and landscape.
Farmers in this part of the world have learnt how to farm amongst the rock taking advantage of the few patches of grass for grazing their cattle and sheep. Hazel thickets cover much of the area and now have to be controlled by constant cutting.
Spring Gentian - Gentiana verna
This is probably the most well known plant growing in the Burren region of County Clare in the west of Ireland. It's one that struggles with the Irish weather, so if it's too wet its flowers fail miserably, but in average to good weather when it does bloom, it's absolutely gorgeous.
On the dozens of occasions I've traveled to the area, specifically to photograph the Gentians, half the time they've been battered by the rain or wind, and I've come home disappointed. Yet when all is right weatherwise for these tiny beauties, I'm in heaven with my camera and tripod. I'm often seen lying prostate on the grass or limestone pavement with tripod, camera and lenses in action.
To think that here in Ireland we are growing some of the same Alpine plants that are growing in their natural habitat in the Alps, is extraordinary. Those tiny seeds got locked up in the last ice age, and when the continents separated and moved, the resting place happened to be in Ireland. The ice melted and the seeds came to life showing us these truly magnificent plants, albeit growing in a completely new and unexpected place.
Germander Speedwell - Veronica chamaedrys
Seeing the light blue flowers of Germander Speedwell growing prolifically on the road verges is supposed to 'speed' you on your way. It was considered to be a lucky charm for travelers.
When driving around the Burren, I don't think much will speed anyone on their way, as the roads are so narrow and winding - but it's nice to see the little blue flowers wave us on! The enjoyment of visiting areas like this is not to fly thought it at speed, but slow down, look around, take it all in and get out of your car and walk.
For anyone planning a visit to Ireland and landing at Shannon airport, the Burren is just 40 mins drive northwards - definitely worth a visit!
I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.
Live Oak, Paintbrush, and Bluebonnets in Texas Hill Country, USA
The Flower Gardener's Bible
What a super book!
The complete guide to flower gardening is written by experts Lewis and Nancy Hill. They offer sound advice on anything from garden design to aspects of horticulture, such as soil improvement and dealing with pests and diseases.
The reference section is comprehensive so all in all this is a really useful flower guide.