Date Taken: 08/05/2017
Location: Near Milepost 430
Camera: Nikon D50
Lens: 105 mm Sigma macro
Focal Length: 105 mm
Exposure: Aperture Priority
How I Got This Shot: I was headed south on the Parkway when I saw this flower in the right-hand margin. There was an overlook within 30 yards beyond the cut where the flower grew, so I parked and walked back. I think this plant comes back every year, as I saw one in the same spot in 2018, but there are lots of lilies all along the parkway between Mt. Pisgah and Waterrock Knob, and others scattered more infrequently elsewhere, so similar flowers should not be hard to find.
I took this shot lying on my back halfway in the road and halfway in the grass margin, which was very narrow between the road and the cliff. It was about 1:44 PM and the sunlight was coming down through the lily from the left. The flower was positioned against a stone cut, but the background colors were medium gray and green; I have no idea why the background came out so dark from this angle, and in most of my other shots, it did not.
While I took this photo, I had someone watching the road to warn me of oncoming traffic, and I strongly recommend against lying down in the Parkway to shoot photographs without an assistant to keep watch, because the Parkway is very busy, and it’s easy to forget where you are when you’re absorbed in setting your camera and trying to focus.
For best results with Turk’s Cap lilies, I recommend shooting from below, slightly below, or parallel to the flower, and trying to shoot at an angle where light is coming through the flower from the side rather than shooting directly into the sun or shooting with the sun behind you. The lilies light up and glow like stained glass when direct sunlight comes through the petals. Almost invariably, shooting these flowers with the light behind you gives relatively flat and uninteresting results. It can take time and patience to find flowers that are located so that the sunlight is shining through them at an angle you can capture, but it’s well worth your while. This method has given me dozens of amazing photos of this type of lily, and it’s one of my favorite wildflower subjects.
I start looking for these flowers in early July. Blossom season lasts about a month. Some seasons, they bloom a couple of weeks early and sometimes they’re a couple of weeks late.
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