L’avant-première

The biggest single event in the garden must be when the prune tree flowers.

It is pretty impressive and is the earliest tree to have blossom in the immediate area and gets a lot of admiration from the neighbourhood.

For me it not only provides plums, as all good plum trees should, but provides shade for us to eat under in the summer time and the blossom provides loads of pollen and nectar for the bees.  So it was with great care and consideration that it received its annual pruning a couple of weeks ago.  The result was that a lot of small branches hit the ground and I noticed that the first swellings of the  buds were just visible.  I gathered some up and put them in a vase.

Plum twigs in vase

Plum twigs in vase

It just took over a week before I had a preview of the blossom that will eventually cover the tree.

Opening plum flower

Opening plum flower

So while the rain continued to pour outside I could appreciate my plum blossom and also get to grips with some close-up photography.  I took this using my Christmas present tripod, which allowed me to dispense with flash.

Getting closer to the twig

Getting closer to the twig

What I really wanted to try was to get closer, not just crop a photograph.

The stamens can be seen

The stamens can be seen

I wanted to see the stamens and the pollen that the bees would be collecting.

The anthers are visible

The anthers are visible

Here the four anthers can be seen amongst the stamens

Opening flower

Opening flower

I cannot justify buying a Macro lens but I have bought a reversing ring and that has allowed me to take these photographs with my lens fitted back to front on the camera.  It has its limitations, but for 18 euros including postage (it would be cheaper in the States or UK, I’m sure) it is worth it.

Abstract bud

Abstract bud

I’ve had lots of fun and whereas the depth of field can be a challenge I like the abstract feel of some of the shots.

Abstract

Perhaps I’m going too far here for some, but I like it.

I doubt whether I’ll be able to take any bees or bumble shots outside like this – but I can always try when it gets warmer!

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36 thoughts on “L’avant-première

  1. I have not noticed buds on our tree but maybe I am not observant! I did see yesterday however two very small snowdrop buds. I like these photos. I have a new camera so I am playing around a lot at the moment.

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    • Its amazing how quickly they will open out if you bring them in. It’s worth try, even before they flower the bare branches look decorative in a Japanese way.
      Do you fancy reversing the lens? I got all my info from the net.

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  2. I agree with Susan… lovely pix.

    I’ve never regretted purchasing my reversing ring… would have been an equivalent price to yours at 1980 prices… [or possibly more]… it was around £10 then.

    I modified a rear lens cap to hold the iris open… can’t find it at the moment… it is in “la grange” in a box somewhere.
    But it is simple to make and the caps are cheap…
    you cut the back off, or make a hole in the back, to open it up..
    then fix it on the lens and see where the lever that operates the iris is…
    mark the positions for iris full open and at f32 [or whatever the minimum aperture is] and glue a small block of plastic inside of the same size…
    and another block for a lever on the outside.
    It is then far easier to pre-set an aperture and then focus with an open aperture…
    moving the lever to let the iris close again…
    the amount of movement is much smaller than would be required to take the cap right off…
    and the hole through the centre doesn’t interfere with the picture.
    But it does mean that you can hold the lens in focus while you move the lever with a finger of the same hand…
    picked the tip up from Amateur Photographer in the mid-Eighties…
    and it solved the slipping out of focus when closing the iris that I had had…
    [NB. not as needed if you are using a tripod… you’ve got two free hands!!]

    For your next purchase ;-)… a pair of bellows… you can get even closer!!

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    • I managed to stop down a couple of ways. One way for my camera is to hold the depth of field preview button down as you take the lens of and the aperture will stay at what you’ve set it. I am not sure about the bellows, I think I might just hold out for the macro lens if I end up taking a lot of macro photos. It is always the question of what is the meaning of the word “need”.

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      • I was jesting about the bellows…
        I picked mine up in a secondhand shop for less than a tenner…
        I don’t think the guy knew what they were…
        and they were Pentax K-fit so the reversing ring fitted as easily as the lens at the business end…
        but I only took a few shots in the roll film days that way…
        too difficult to light properly and too expensive on film…
        but now film is free… well!
        Had some good macro shots with my telephoto lens though!
        I dug it out of the box just before Christmas but haven’t played with it yet….
        YET!
        Watch this space…. but DON’T hold your breath…

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  3. I like your images, photos don’t just have to be realistic, creating something abstract is great. I love he effect when the subject is in sharp focus and the background is like an impressionist painting. I must look at my plum, a few branches inside would be lovely. Christina

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    • I don’t have any flowering quince but my neighbour does. When she saw and liked my flowering plum twigs, I suggested she cut her flowering quince. We were quite surprised when we saw some of the flowers had already started to open on the bush! Last year I had taken photographs of it in full flower with the bees feasting on it but that was the end of March. This year it is going to be much earlier.

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  4. Amazing how you can take a beautiful flower and make it look so different in so many beautiful ways!

    I didn’t think you were supposed to prune a tree in bud – shouldn’t you do that when the tree is dormant? I have a couple of flowering fruit trees in my garden and maybe I’m doing it all wrong!

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    • The dormant period here can be quite short. January should be a dormant period and a good time to prune but this winter has been very mild. Not always a good thing for fruit trees and we could still get a really cold spell and frosts until May. You can still steal some dormant twigs and they come into flower much earlier inside.

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  5. Love that last photo the best, but they are all wonderful. I don’t have a macro lens, either, and I have never been able to get my photos this clear. I’ve never heard of a reversing ring – will look into it! Your flowering branches are beautiful. It must be wonderful to have this sign of spring in your home.

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    • I’m glad you liked the last photo. If you have a camera that lets you remove the lens then you could try taking photographs really close up. Cut flowers don’t move indoors and I used a table lamp to give me more light and moved it for different lighting effects. There is a lot of information on reversing the lens on the net.

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  6. The general rule of thumb for fruit trees is not to prune them if it is warm enough for the sap to flow, because the wounds will bleed. If it’s cold you should be fine, but chances are you aren’t going to hurt the tree if you just snip off a few branches for forcing. You can also force apple blossoms the same way.

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    • It is a very complicated question and I do not pretend to understand it fully. I think you always have to look a step ahead. If they were banned what would take their place and would a ban be effective in controlling use of harmful pesticides. The problem is huge and the bees must be protected but whether a precipitate action would help in the long run, I’m not sure. Please look at http://bumblebeeconservation.org/news/the-bumblebee-conservation-trust-and-neonicotinoid-insecticides/ . I know these are bumble bee people but it is the same difference and I have read the same sentiments from other bee scientists.

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      • I looked at this article, thanks for pointing me towards it. I have to say my leaning is towards banning the pesticides you know create problems (the documented evidence seems pretty wide spread and conclusive) as soon as you know it. If you don’t ban things out of fear that the next one might be worse, you never will protect the environment from the worst of man-made damage.

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      • Neonic usage is already quite restricted in France and several other EU countries (including Germany, where the chemicals are manufactured) as a response to the research results from as far back as the 1990s. Fortunately, in much of Europe (but not Britain), the apiarist’s lobby is powerful.

        BTW Amelia — I’ve just read a very interesting article about Peregrine Langton Massingberd, from Gunby Hall, and his role in promoting Thomas Nutt’s ideas about honey bee management and welfare. Nutt was the man who introduced the ‘inverted’ hive and realised you didn’t have to kill the bees to extract the honey. Next time you go to England it might be worth visiting Gunby to learn more…

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        • I’ve never been to Lincolnshire,in fact, I do not know England very well but it does sound like an interesting place to visit. I never knew that in the past the bees were sacrificed to obtain the honey. I’m still struggling to absorb the modern methods and learn more about the bees biology. The more I learn,the more I realise how little I know.

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  7. Beautiful photos! I did not know that plum twig clippings could survive in a vase and still bloom. Maybe I need to learn more about different fruit trees. Around here we mostly have citrus trees.

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    • I love the smell of orange and lemon blossom! We have a tiny lemon tree that lives in a pot that has to go into a non-heated bedroom in the winter. A lot of people have citrus trees in their gardens here but only in the summer time. They are in pots on wheels and they are taken in during the winter, some are quite large! It must seem strange to you.

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  8. I love tree flowers and the idea of having them in the home instead of traditional flowers is a lovely idea, particularly evocative of spring. I may use this as inspiration for my home decorations! Love the abstract macro shots.

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  9. Lovely. I wonder if I can find room for a plum tree? Hmmm, might try… The key to success with macro, whether with a dedicated lens or extension tubes, or reverse mounting or dioptres, is to have enough light to use a narrow aperture. Using a tripod, you can let the shutter speed ramp up but in the garden shooting insects it’s another matter! Still, definitely worth pursuing. I look forward to the results. 🙂

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