10.03.21: Fleabane in a field

Common fleabane wildflowers bloom in a field in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Common fleabane wildflowers bloom in a field in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio.

Shooting wildflowers while chasing wildlife

When I looked at the scene through the camera’s viewfinder I really liked how the flowers’ yellow centers, rimmed with thin pink petals, contrasted with the green background of the field. 

I’m quick to admit that the vast majority of flower photos in my files are what I call “happy accidents,” scenes captured when I’m out photographing wildlife.

Instead of using a macro (or close-up) lens, a tripod and flash units to provide controlled lighting, like I would if I had planned to photograph flowers, I use the long, heavy 600 millimeter super telephoto lens and a 1.4x teleconverter that I carry when photographing wildlife.  It’s ideal for wildlife photos, but it means I’m shooting close-up photos of flowers from more than 15 feet away. It’s not the typical way to shoot flower photos, but it works.

This photo of common fleabane flowers in a field is one of those happy accidents. 

I was hiking through a field looking for birds when a couple of spots of magenta and yellow in a sea of green caught my attention. This was in 2006, before I had purchased my prized 600mm, so I was carrying a 300mm telephoto lens with a 2x teleconverter to provide a total focal length of 600mm.

When I looked at the scene through the camera’s viewfinder I really liked how the flowers’ yellow centers, rimmed with thin pink petals, contrasted with the green background of the field. I grabbed a shot, then continued with my hike.

Later, when I saw the image on the computer while sorting through the morning’s shoot, I was drawn to the photo’s colors. So I added it to the “selected” photos to process from the shoot.

Then I had to figure out what kind of flower I had photographed. That took some time on Google.

The best that I can determine is that these are common fleabane flowers. Common fleabane, sometimes called Philadelphia fleabane, is a wildflower found along roadsides, in fields and in thickets all over the United States. Each head, when bloomed, has hundreds of yellow or pink florets extending from a yellow center. Some of the flowers I’ve seen in our area seem to go beyond pink, almost to a deep magenta or at times a blueish pink, so I’m assuming the deeper color is caused by the type of soil in the area.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: May 13, 2006 9:11 AM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 20D
  • Lens: 300.0 mm 
  • Focal length: 600mm
  • Aperture: f/8
  • Shutter: 1/500 second
  • ISO: 800

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