ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog en-us (C) ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Mon, 09 Jul 2018 15:33:00 GMT Mon, 09 Jul 2018 15:33:00 GMT ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog 120 120 Waterlilies and Lotuses in Bloom Let me catch my breath! It's been a whirlwind of conferences and travel since mid-May and I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we are already well into July! In May I was a presenter at Hazel Meredith's Creative Photography Conference in Southbridge, MA. It was a small but wonderful conference and I had such an enthusiastic and warm group, all eager to learn about Lensbaby. I throughly enjoyed being a part of the conference and look forward to being a part of Hazel's conferences in the future. I spent the week after the conference in Boston with family, celebrating our granddaughter's first birthday - a wonderful, joy-filled week.

Next up was the Out of Chicago Summer Conference in June, always an incredible experience to be a part of, both as a staff member and a presenter. As a part of the conference, I led a full-day workshop with Lensbaby at Garfield Park Conservatory. It was a magical day, one amazing experience after another. I could not have asked for a more delightful group of participants. It poured outside but we were cozy with our subjects inside - most notably a rare and spontaneous opportunity to be invited to photograph 100's of waterlilies in the greenhouse just hours before they were transferred outside to the pond. I loved the reactions of awe that emerged as I introduced my participants to one of my most beloved places to photograph - The Fern Room, as well as the Desert House. These two areas were full of wonderful subjects for our bunker full of Lensbaby lenses. A special thank you to Lauren Wilcox from Lensbaby for being there and providing her technical expertise. She was awesome to work with!

Then, a few days after the conference, my husband and I were off to Copenhagen to visit our daughter and boyfriend who live there - a great vacation, full of so many adventures, great food and a new-found love for Denmark. I'm dealing with a bit of jet lag but I've taken advantage of my waking very early in the morning to spend some time at Chicago Botanic Garden, catching up on my own photography. There's nothing like shooting at the Garden in the early morning - no crowds, beautiful light and dew on everything. In the week that I was gone, the waterlilies exploded in growth and the lotuses are blooming. Summer is definitely in full-swing! Normally, most of my waterlily and lotus photography is done in the pools in the Heritage Garden. This year, the Aquatic Bulb Garden is lush with waterlilies and lotuses, as well. Don't miss visiting both areas.

Here's a sampling of what I've shot right before I left for vacation and in the two days since I've been home.

Snuggled UpSnuggled Up Waterlily in PinkWaterlily in Pink 'Darwin' Waterlily'Darwin' Waterlily 'Perry's Giant Sunburst' Lotus'Perry's Giant Sunburst' Lotus Lotus Close UpLotus Close Up 'Perry's Giant Sunburst' Lotus'Perry's Giant Sunburst' Lotus I'll be presenting at SWMCCC in Holland, Michigan, July 27-29. Stay tuned this week for an email through Out of Chicago for a super exciting opportunity in early August (make sure you subscribe via the website for emails)...and then we are on to the big Out of Chicago Flower and Garden Photography Conference in August. We still have a few spaces left!    

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden Creative Photography Conference flower photography Lensbaby lotuses macro photography waterlilies Out of Chicago Sun, 08 Jul 2018 18:25:52 GMT
Crabapples in Bloom Crabapples in Bloom in SpringCrabapples in Bloom in Spring The Crabapples along the Lakeside Garden path and circling the Great Basin are in full bloom now. Begin by entering the Lakeside Garden path near the English Walled Garden. The canopy of blooms reminds me of a fairyland and I often imagine how my 5-year-old self would have felt entering this magical path. Continue around the Great Basin over the Arch Bridge towards Evening Island, viewing the trees from many different viewpoints. Crabapples in shades of white, pink and red are along the paths. I love circling all around the lake, crossing over the Serpentine Bridge to look back and view the crabapple displays on Evening Island with the carillon bell tower. Yesterday the air was filled with the sounds of chirping birds and singing frogs in the lake. It's a magical time that I look forward to each spring but it doesn't last long. A big storm or heavy winds can send those blossoms dancing to the ground like snow, so go now to see this wonderful display. 

Lakeside Garden Path with the Lensbaby Burnside 35mm

Crabapples in BloomCrabapples in Bloom   Arch Bridge with the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm Garden Bridge in SpringGarden Bridge in Spring

Lakeside Garden Path with the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Crabapples in BloomCrabapples in Bloom

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden spring crabapple trees flower photography garden photography lakeside path great basin lensbaby velvet 85mm lensbaby burnside 35mm Wed, 16 May 2018 22:35:58 GMT
Out of Chicago Summer Conference and Workshop at Garfield Park Conservatory The Out of Chicago Summer Conference is quickly approaching. I'm excited to be teaching two Lensbaby classes during the weekend conference: "Unleash Your Creative Spirit: Creating Beautiful Flower Portraits with Lensbaby." We also have a Shootout scheduled for Saturday and Sunday where the Lensbaby reps and I will be available to loan out lenses to shoot a variety of flowers, as well as provide instruction in their use. Learn more about the conference and the amazing line-up of instructors here. You can use my special code BELMONT50 to receive $50 off the weekend conference price.  

I am also excited to doing a pre-conference workshop on Thursday, June 21, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., at Garfield Park Conservatory. Garfield is located just west of the Loop and the conference center. Spend the day photographing the treasures of Garfield Park Conservatory with me and our Lensbaby reps. This is one of my favorite places to photograph year-round – from the Fern Room with its primeval, misty ferns unfolding, the Desert House filled with cacti and succulents to the 12 acres of outdoor summer gardens and a waterlily pool – we will have many interesting subjects to practice our macro and close-up photography skills and discover the creative possibilities of shooting with Lensbaby lenses. Lensbaby reps will be accompanying us to loan out lenses and provide instruction. We will have a classroom at Garfield for storing our gear as well as gathering for lunch, which is included in the price, and some instructional time.

There are only two spots left in this small workshop. You can check out the details and register here.

Hope to see you at the conference! This is one of my favorite events of the year. The Out of Chicago conferences are like no other. If you have questions, please don't hesitate to email me through this site.    

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) out of chicago flower photography lensbaby photography conference chicago macro photography creativity Wed, 09 May 2018 15:05:37 GMT
Is Spring Here to Stay? - Bloom Update After a tease of warmer weather earlier in April, we plunged back into colder temps and more snow flurries, and spring was put on hold. It certainly has made a very late appearance in the Chicago area this year. The colder temps helped the crocuses and irises stay around for a longer period than usual, but delayed everything else from blooming and delayed the planting of spring gardens at CBG. Finally, this week we seem to be on the road to full-fledged spring. The Garden staff have been in a whirlwind of planting this week - all hands on deck to get those spring gardens in! So please, spring, don't disappear again - we are all rooting for you. It was an impossibly long winter and we need you!

So, what will you find if you make a trip to the Garden right now?  The daffodils are in bloom, the fields of Icelandic poppies in the English Oak Meadow have been planted, many, many anemones have been planted in various places around the Garden (the entrance gardens, the Bulb Garden, the Enabling Garden, the Sensory Garden), ranunculus are in a few areas...and lots of other spring blooms. Some early tulips are in bloom in the Bulb Garden and in the Waterfall Garden area, and a few tulips are starting to open in the Circle Garden. Most tulips, however, are still at least a week, maybe two, from blooming. We seem to be a good 2-3 weeks behind schedule this year. Magnolias should be in bloom over the next week but no sign of crabapples being close.

The wind (always a problem in spring) has made photographing poppies and anemones challenging. I have a lot of patience when it comes to flower photography. If you wait long enough there are usually lulls in the wind...usually, but you have to work fast when that lull comes because it may only last a few seconds. Here's some of what I've been capturing this week. The anemones and the poppies are captured with my 100mm macro. I was eager to photograph these flowers with my Lensbaby Velvets but because the wind was so challenging and I was reliant on autofocus to get anything at all in focus. 

Spring AnemoneSpring Anemone

Spring PoppySpring Poppy 'Harmony Blue' Poppy Anemone'Harmony Blue' Poppy Anemone Icelandic PoppyIcelandic Poppy The last of the crocuses, captured late last week with the Lensbaby Composer Pro II and Sweet 80 optic and Velvet 85mm respectively.

CrocusCrocus CrocusCrocus    

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) macro photography poppies spring spring flowers tulips anemones chicago botanic garden crocus flower photography Thu, 26 Apr 2018 00:22:18 GMT
Bloom Update at Chicago Botanic Garden A brief update on what's in bloom at Chicago Botanic Garden. Lots of ups and downs in temperature the past two weeks, and even a bit of snow, has delayed the full emergence of spring. Luckily, the snow and cold temps didn't keep the crocuses from their glorious show on Evening Island. They are definitely at their peak right now and with the warmer temps these last two days, they are open and showing off their colors. The bees are busy gathering pollen and you might even see a few geese wandering among the crocuses snacking on the newly emerging grass. The crocuses won't last long, however, so if you haven't made a trip to see them, go now. The beautiful Harmony irises in the Sensory Garden Woods have lasted a long time this spring due to the colder temps. Normally they would be gone by now, but they have lingered and are also at their peak. Tulips, well, we still have a way to go. They are slowly peaking their heads out of the ground but seem to be a bit later in emerging due to the colder weather. The CBG staff are busy planting annuals in all of the gardens. I am waiting eagerly for ranunculus to go in. Hopefully, by early May all will be in bloom, along with the crabapples and magnolias. Stay tuned for further updates!

Crocuses of Evening IslandCrocuses of Evening Island Crocuses with the Lensbaby Composer Pro II and Sweet 80 optic

Conducting the Orchestra of SpringConducting the Orchestra of Spring Crocus, conducting the orchestra of spring, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

  'Harmony' Iris in the Woods'Harmony' Iris in the Woods Harmony Iris in the Sensory Garden Woods, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Harmony Iris in the Sensory Garden WoodsHarmony Iris in the Sensory Garden Woods Harmony Irises, 100mm macro

For some tips on photographing the crocuses read my previous blog post here 


]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) crocus evening island flower photography harmony irises lensbaby macro photography sensory garden woods spring chicago botanic garden Thu, 12 Apr 2018 16:12:16 GMT
Article on Selective Focus at Visual Wilderness Tower Hill TulipTower Hill Tulip I am a contributing author for Visual Wilderness. This wonderful website, run by Jay and Varina Patel, is full of resources for learning nature and landscape photography. Please enjoy my latest article "Capture Stunning Photos Using Selective Focus." Using selective focus is my favorite way to photograph flowers, a way of shooting that is not only fun, but gives me a tremendous amount of creative control. If you missed my first two articles on Visual Wilderness you can find them here and here.

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) anne belmont flower photography lensbaby macro photography selective focus visual wilderness Wed, 04 Apr 2018 20:28:55 GMT
Crocuses in Bloom on Evening Island I know that spring has finally arrived when the crocuses start to blanket the hillside on Evening Island at Chicago Botanic Garden. I love this time of year! To be outdoors photographing nature again after our long winter is exhilarating. It is wonderful to watch the emergence of spring; each day brings new blooms to capture.

Crocus BeautyCrocus Beauty The crocuses have just emerged this week but keep in mind that they don't last long. I've spent a couple of days this week photographing them. A few quick tips. Take a variety of lenses if you have them. I use everything - my 100mm macro, my 180mm macro and, of course, my arsenal of Lensbaby lenses, which are perfect for photographing these flowers. I search for a pleasing clump - I particularly like to find the purple 'Remembrance' crocuses in a cluster surrounded by the golden yellow crocuses to provide a blurred backdrop and pop of color. Make sure you have a diffuser to soften the light and a tripod helps if you are shooting in higher apertures trying to capture the details within the crocuses. My tripod extends all the way to the ground because it has a tilting center column, which is essential when shooting low. A Platypod is another great gadget to get you down low and steady your camera. You will likely need to raise it slightly with the included spike feet to get you at the perfect angle. Most often I am shooting handheld, however, lying flat on my tummy, my elbows on the ground keeping my camera steady. Most importantly, take a large garbage bag to sit or lay on. The ground in spring can be wet and because the geese frequent this hill, they leave lots of surprises behind. There is plenty of room between the clumps of flowers to carefully lay a bag.

Dancing in the SunshineDancing in the Sunshine

Controlling your backgrounds can be one the challenging parts of photographing crocuses. Because the grass is brown and not attractive this time of year, I am most often shooting in lower apertures to blur my background and create a watercolor look to my image. I'm pretty hands-off when it comes to flowers but it's ok to pull stray bits of brown grass and dead leaves out of your image.

Crocuses on Evening IslandCrocuses on Evening Island          'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island Enjoy spring and get out and enjoy the many treasures that are emerging each day! More bloom reports to come as I'm at the Garden as much as possible this time of year.

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) 180mm macro chicago botanic garden evening island flower photography lensbaby macro photography platypod spring 100mm macro crocus Sat, 31 Mar 2018 19:15:19 GMT
Introducing Nymphaea 'Garfield Park' I visited Garfield Park Conservatory on Monday to photograph the flowers in their Spring Flower Show. Thank goodness for places like Garfield that put together these extraordinary flower shows that help us endure that transition from winter to spring. Winters are very long in Chicago and by February and March many of us are eagerly counting days until we can be outside in the sunshine to watch the emergence of spring. While we wait ever so patiently through the ups and downs in temps, places like Garfield provide us with a beautiful haven to enjoy spring indoors. The flower show is spectacular this year - I promise to do a post with some of my images in the coming days. Oh my, the tulips! 

First, however, I would like to introduce you to a very special flower propagated and officially registered by the talented Kathy Cahill at Garfield...Nymphaea 'Garfield Park'. Kathy was excited to take me behind the scenes to see and photograph this special waterlily that will join the outdoor collection in the waterlily pool. Last summer I experienced the most amazing class with Kathy when we got to go in the water with the waterlilies. If you missed that post, you can read it here. Nymphaea 'Garfield Park' is proudly wintering and flowering in one of the greenhouses at Garfield and she's a beauty. What a treat to see her and be able to spend a blissful hour photographing her in her winter home. 

Nymphaea 'Garfield Park'Nymphaea 'Garfield Park' Nymphaea 'Garfield Park'Nymphaea 'Garfield Park' Nymphaea 'Garfield Park'Nymphaea 'Garfield Park'     Nymphaea 'Garfield Park'Nymphaea 'Garfield Park' Nymphaea 'Garfield Park'Nymphaea 'Garfield Park' I had fun photographing her with both my Lensbaby Velvet 85mm (I thought she definitely deserved a very soft focus look with the Velvet) and my 100mm macro. I was within inches of this water lily - truly an encounter that doesn't happen often with water lilies. Normally I'm much farther away and using a 70-300mm lens to capture aquatic blooms. 

Thank you, Kathy, for this special treat...and for the other treat, the delicious chocolate cake! You truly exemplify what is so special about Garfield - a staff of the most passionate and generous people imaginable. As I always say, it's one of the happiest places to spend a day among the flowers and plants.  

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) nymphaea waterlily garfield park conservatory lensbaby velvet 85mm 100mm macro flower photography aquatic blooms soft focus Thu, 29 Mar 2018 19:26:30 GMT
The Flower and Garden Photography Conference  


I am excited to announce Out of Chicago's first ever Flower and Garden Photography Conference! We've been dreaming about this conference for a long time and it has finally become a reality. It's happening August 26-30th. Registration is open today and it is limited to 100 people so we expect it to sell out quickly. Join me with 9 other instructors to learn everything you could ever want to know about flower and garden photography. We've gathered a dynamic and enthusiastic group of instructors who can't wait to share their varied passions with you in five days of jam-packed learning and fun. Presentations, critique sessions, post-processing sessions and lots of socializing will happen at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Deerfield, IL. (hey, even happy hour is included) and we'll be taking small groups out all day for instructor-led shoots at the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden, a few miles from the hotel. Out of Chicago is known for its dynamic, fun and hands-on conferences where you get to spend lots of time with instructors - learning, interacting, shooting and sharing our passion for photography. I'll be doing the opening keynote to introduce you to one of my favorite places in the world, The Chicago Botanic Garden, as well as my approach to flower photography. I'll be teaching lots of Lensbaby during the conference, too. Be prepared for a creative, fun, energizing week of learning!  To get details, see our line-up of fantastic instructors and register visit

Use my special code to get $300 off your registration for the 5 day workshop: BELMONT 

(good until midnight Monday, March 5)

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden flower and garden photography conference flower photography garden photography macro photography photography conference out of chicago Tue, 27 Feb 2018 13:00:56 GMT
Photographing Orchids - Tips to Create Stunning Images in an Orchid Exhibit If you enjoy photographing flowers in the warmth of the greenhouses during these cold winter months, The Orchid Show, “Asia in Bloom,” at the Chicago Botanic Garden is the perfect place to be. Regenstein Hall, the galleries and greenhouses have all been transformed into a magical and elaborate display of 10,000 orchids with a beautiful Asian theme. The show opened February 10 and runs until March 25 and is open each day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Tripods are only allowed in the exhibit during “Photographer’s Hours,” Thursdays, 8:15 - 9:45 a.m. (best to purchase tickets online as these special hours will sell out and are limited).  Tickets are $10.00 for members/$12.00 for non-members.  To order tickets online or find more information about the show, please visit the Chicago Botanic Garden’s website:

100mm macro f4.5, handheld


For those of you who live in other parts of the country, many botanic gardens have wonderful orchid shows going on this time of year - Longwood Garden, New York Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden, to name a few. Some conservatories, like Chicago's Lincoln Park Conservatory, have a dedicated orchid room, open all year. Even if you don’t have a local orchid show or conservatory, find a greenhouse or florist that supplies orchids and go there to shoot. In the Chicago area, we have Orchids by Hausermann in Villa Park, my favorite place to shoot and buy orchids. My neighborhood florist, Hlavacek Florist, has a wonderful orchid collection and they work with Chicago Botanic Garden to set up a beautiful display within the Orchid Show. I’ve gotten some of my best orchid photographs in these places because I can often move the orchids or stage them since they are in pots. Get permission first and I always buy an orchid or two as my thanks for letting me shoot. As you can imagine, orchids are taking over my house!


Image in CBG exhibit, The Orchid Show 2015-2017, shot at Orchids by Hausermann, 100mm macro f/9, tripod


Orchid shot at Hlavacek Florist, 100mm macro, f/32, tripod


Orchids are complex and exotic flowers and, in my opinion, one of the hardest flowers to photograph. They are worth the effort, however, as they are one of the most beloved and beautiful flowers. One of my favorite things about orchids is the stories they elicit - orchids can have such wonderful human or animal-like characteristics.


'Graceful Ballerina' 100mm macro with macro ring light, f20, handheld

Experiment with a range of apertures to create different effects with orchids. When my goal is to create an image with every part in sharp focus, I move in close and use a small aperture, going as high as f22 - f32, depending on the depth of the flower. Sharp close-ups of orchids require these higher apertures to get everything in focus. Many orchids are complex and have great depth and interesting details to capture. Apertures this high require the use of a tripod to avoid camera shake with slow shutter speeds. If you worry about lens diffraction, the loss of sharpness that can happen when shooting in the higher apertures, use focus stacking if that is of interest to you. I personally don’t use focus stacking or worry about diffraction - a few simple steps in post processing can bring detail back to the image. Keep in mind that shooting in higher apertures will bring forth more detail in your background, too. This is often why I move in close to simplify and eliminate as much background as possible. As with all flower photography, paying attention to your backgrounds is just as important as the flower itself.   

Image in CBG exhibit, The Orchid Show 2015-2017, 100mm macro f/22, tripod


180mm macro, f/32, tripod

My favorite way to shoot flowers of any kind is to use selective focus to produce a softer, dreamier image.   Using a wider aperture will help blur the distractions of the background and bring only one flower or part of a flower in focus.  There is enough light in many parts of the greenhouses to handhold your camera if using wider apertures. This is a great way to shoot when tripods are not allowed in the exhibit. I study the orchid carefully, looking for interesting details that catch my eye - a beautiful curve or a soft ruffle. Using selective focus to draw the eye is a powerful, creative and fun way to shoot. Decide what is most important to have in focus and experiment with a small range of apertures to see what effect is most pleasing. 

100mm macro, f/6.3, handheld


100mm macro, f/4.5, handheld

100mm macro, f/6.3, handheld


70-200mm lens shot at 200mm, f4.5, handheld. The compression of longer focal length lenses helps blur backgrounds.


To achieve a softer look I always reach for my Lensbaby lenses, particularly the Velvet 56mm and Velvet 85mm to create a beautiful, ethereal portrait of the orchids. The Lensbaby Velvet will give me a beautiful blurred background, as well, and images are often perfect straight out of camera.

Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids Lensbaby Velvet 85mm, f/4, handheld


Phalaenopsis OrchidPhalaenopsis Orchid Lensbaby Velvet 85mm f/4, tripod


Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids Lensbaby Velvet 56mm, f/4, handheld

Spathoglottis Ground OrchidSpathoglottis Ground Orchid Lensbaby Composer Pro II with Sweet 35 Optic, f/4, handheld - another fun lens system to shoot orchids. 


It may be challenging to find a good composition for an orchid or grouping of orchids. Many orchids grow in clusters or in close proximity to other orchids or plants, making it hard to isolate one orchid from others and eliminate distracting backgrounds. Take your time and experiment. Move around to find the best background. Look for darker foliage and backgrounds that might be further back.  Sometimes positioning yourself just a fraction of an inch in a different direction can make all the difference in eliminating distracting elements and spots of light. If you can’t control your background, cloning out areas or darkening areas in post processing will help. I prefer to get as much right in camera as possible, but the reality of photographing orchids is that you may have to do a bit of post processing magic to improve your image and eliminate distracting elements.

100mm macro, f/13, handheld. Distracting background darkened in layer in Photoshop.


100mm macro, f/4, handheld. Foliage in a distance paired with a lower aperture created a beautiful blurred background. 


Another trick I have found helpful in photographing orchids in exhibits is to use a macro ring light. I own the Yongnuo YN-14EX, which is compatible with my Canon camera. I consider myself a natural light photographer; I had never used or liked flash with flowers, so it was a big step for me to even give it a try. When shooting in dimly lit exhibit spaces where I can’t use a tripod, a macro ring light allows me to get sharp, well-lit images handheld. It also allows me to get in closer in a way I may not be able to do with a tripod in an exhibit. Sometimes I like the effect, sometimes I don’t, but it’s always in my bag to experiment with while shooting orchids. By powering up or powering down the flash I can control the amount of light in an effort to produce as natural-looking an image as possible.  It is also helpful for illuminating the deeper centers of orchids and in darkening the backgrounds. 

100mm macro with macro ring light, f/11, handheld. Note how the flash darkens the background.


100mm macro with macro ring light, f/5, handheld


Don’t forget to carry your diffuser and reflector. On a sunny day, the light in the greenhouses can be harsh and contrasty. The diffuser will soften the light and the reflector will bounce light into those inner recesses of the orchid. Remember, you always want the part of the orchid you are drawing the eye to to be well-illuminated.

100mm macro, f/11, handheld

Some of my orchid photographs that were on exhibit in the 2015-2017 Orchid Shows at CBG were captured with black backgrounds. For someone who prefers shooting with the backgrounds nature provides, this was a new way of shooting prompted by this commissioned project. It’s important to know that these were staged with potted orchids outside the exhibit. You are not allowed to use black backdrops or even slip a piece of black mat board behind the orchids in most orchid exhibits. Save that kind of shooting for home or a place that will allow you to move potted orchids.

100mm macro, f/32. Shot in my kitchen near window light. Orchid purchased at Orchids by Hausermann.

100mm macro, f/32. Shot at Orchids by Hausermann.


Give orchids a try and keep in mind that, as with anything, the more you practice and experiment, the better you will get. Have fun and enjoy the beauty of these exotic flowers!

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) orchid photography orchid show orchid show 2018 orchids by hausermann chicago botanic garden flower photography hlavacek florist lensbaby lensbaby velvet orchids Sun, 25 Feb 2018 15:57:09 GMT
Upcoming Conferences LotusLotus 2018 is off to a very busy start! I've been busy planning and preparing for so many exciting events. Just a summary of some of the things to come:

I am honored to be a featured speaker at Hazel Meredith's Creative Photography Conference on May 19th and 20th in Southbridge, MA. I will be representing Lensbaby and my presentation will be "Unleash Your Creative Spirit: Creating Beautiful Flower Portraits with Lensbaby." We'll also have hands-on shooting with Lensbabies. To learn more about the conference, visit Hazel's website by clicking here and more about my talk here. Use my special discount code to get $50 off: anne50. The code expires on 2/28.

Although our Out of Chicago Winter Conference was cancelled due to a big blizzard the day before the conference, the following podcast with Out of Chicago's Chris Smith was a lead-in to the conference where I talk a bit about my presentation and thoughts on creativity. It was a huge disappointment that we had to cancel but it was done with everyone's safety in mind. I'll be doing this presentation at our Out of Chicago Summer Conference, June 22-24. Details will be coming soon on that conference at

Meanwhile, we are about to announce a very exciting new Out of Chicago conference, The Flower and Garden Photography Conference, August 26-30. This conference has been a dream of Chris Smith and mine for a long time and we've finally made it a reality. We are bringing an amazing line-up of instructors together to teach you everything you could want to know about flower and garden photography and we'll be shooting every day at the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden, my home away from home. If you aren't on the email list for, go sign up now so you will receive an email when registration opens for this event on Tuesday, February 27. We expect this event to sell out quickly since it is limited to 100 people. Check back here or on my social media sites for a special discount code you can use to get $300 off. Stay tuned for lots more info. I am so excited about this event! Here's a podcast Chris and I did to talk about the Chicago Botanic Garden and the event.

Stay tuned for more info and please don't hesitate to contact me through this website with questions. Keep shooting - The Orchid Show at Chicago Botanic Garden is amazing, the Spring Flower Show at both Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory are open. Despite it still being winter, there are always ways to capture flowers year-round!




]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography lensbaby macro photography out of chicago creative photography conference flower and garden photography conference Thu, 22 Feb 2018 19:29:27 GMT
Post on Visual Wilderness: 6 Essential Principles for Stunning Flower Photography  

Soft DahliaSoft Dahlia I am excited to announce that I am now a guest author for the wonderful learning community, Visual Wilderness. I am so honored that Jay and Varina Patel asked me to join their team of writers, so many of whom I greatly admire and follow. Visual Wilderness is an amazing site for learning about all aspects of nature and landscape photography. Subscribe to their newsletter and check out all the video learning experiences they offer. Follow the link to Part 1 and Part 2 of my article. Enjoy! I look forward to writing about many aspects of flower photography, Lensbaby, and creativity in the future.   

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography landscape photography lensbaby macro photography nature photography photography education visual wilderness Sat, 27 Jan 2018 14:24:00 GMT
Creative Photography Conference, May 19-20, 2018, Southbridge, MA. I'm excited to be presenting at the Creative Photography Conference in Southbridge, MA., May 19-20, 2018. Thank you to Hazel Meredith for inviting me! More information about my presentation to come soon. Use my special discount code to get $50 off: anne50. The code expires on 2/28.  

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) hazel meredith lensbaby photography conference creative photography conference creativity flower photography Thu, 16 Nov 2017 18:36:00 GMT
A Trip to Longwood Gardens Oh my goodness! I have been so lax in my blog posts this fall. I just realized I hadn't posted anything since August! It has indeed been a busy Fall/busy year, full of so many glorious things - frequent trips to Boston to spend time with family and my new granddaughter, conferences and speaking engagements, Lensbaby demos, as well as trying to honor my promise to myself that I faithfully carve out time for my own creative growth. It is so important as a teacher and an artist to take time for your own photography - a time to play, experiment and reenergize your creativity. That is exactly why I treated myself to three full days of blissful photographing at Longwood Garden near Philadelphia in late August. I love Longwood Gardens; you could not ask for a more beautiful garden full of wonderful subjects, friendly staff and incredible vistas at every turn. And thank you to two friends I treasure - Chung Kim and Mary Malinconico - who live relatively close to Longwood and met me to enjoy some shooting, too. 

I timed my trip so that the dahlias would be in their glory. At Chicago Botanic Garden we did not have our usual array of dahlias because the Garden took on a Brazilian theme and areas that usually have plentiful dahlias were planted with tropical plants this summer. As a result, I was especially eager to photograph one of my favorite flowers at Longwood and they did not disappoint.

One of my stops on the first day was the Flower Garden Walk, an area teeming with 1000's of dahlias.

                 Lensbaby Velvet 85mm 

DahliaDahlia                 Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Cheerful DahliaCheerful Dahlia                  Canon 100mm Macro Dahlia from BehindDahlia from Behind                  Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Glowing Velvety PetalsGlowing Velvety Petals                                                                  Lensbaby Velvet 85mm DahliaDahlia

As I was leaving Longwood after my first full day of shooting, a friendly volunteer stopped me to talk and ask about my photography. I told her how much I loved dahlias and she asked if I had visited the Trial Garden. Well, no, I hadn't gotten there that day but I had an hour until the Gardens closed, so I raced over. Oh my! Talk about dahlia heaven...rows and rows and rows of dahlias they were trying out for future planting! I had beautiful early evening light, so I got to work! I immediately knew where I was going to spend a good part of day two! It was there on the 2nd day that I ran into an Out of Chicago conference attendee, Helen Wagner, who happens to be a horticulturist at Longwood. Small world! Helen is one of those people you meet and can't help but love her immediately. 

I am so drawn to dahlias with interesting curls. They have so much more personality. Although a dahlia show judge would tell you this is imperfect and would not even be included in a dahlia competition, it is pure perfection to me! 

                                                                   Canon 100mm Macro Dahlia CurlsDahlia Curls                  Canon 100mm Macro Dahlia at Longwood GardensDahlia at Longwood Gardens                  Canon 100mm Macro Dahlia at Longwood GardensDahlia at Longwood Gardens                                        Lensbaby Composer Pro with Sweet 50 Optic and Macro Converters

Dahlia Close-UpDahlia Close-Up Of course, the waterlilies at Longwood captured my attention, as well. They have a magnificent display! The light was challenging while I was there, often too strong for photographing flowers without being able to diffuse them. I typically only shoot aquatic flowers on bright overcast days. I found plenty of flowers in more shaded areas to keep me happy. Most of my waterlilies are shot with my Canon 70-300mm lens because they are farther away. 

'Texas Shell Pink' Waterlily - Longwood Gardens'Texas Shell Pink' Waterlily - Longwood Gardens Waterlily at Longwood GardenWaterlily at Longwood Garden Longwood Aquatic BeautyLongwood Aquatic Beauty 'Emily Grant Hutchings' Night Flowering Waterlily'Emily Grant Hutchings' Night Flowering Waterlily Trio of WaterliliesTrio of Waterlilies Lastly, in the Conservatory, which has endless subjects and is so large you can easily get lost, I spent a lot of time with the roses and ferns, two of my favorite subjects at any garden.

How perfect to find a rose with a heart in the center! 

                  Canon 100mm Macro

Heart of the RoseHeart of the Rose                  Canon 100mm Macro Soft and PinkSoft and Pink                                                                    Lensbaby Velvet 85mm Fern UnfurlingFern Unfurling

                                                                   Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Ruffles of the Bird's Nest FernRuffles of the Bird's Nest Fern What a wonderful treat to spend 3 full days at such a beautiful garden! I intend to travel to Longwood more in the future and hopefully do some Out of Chicago workshops there. Stay tuned! 

Next up: The National Dahlia Show at Chicago Botanic Garden! Imagine a flower show with 1000's of dahlias, all posed for photographing!

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) dahlias ferns flower photography garden photography lensbaby velvet 56mm lensbaby velvet 85mm macro photography roses waterlilies longwood gardens Tue, 31 Oct 2017 20:15:13 GMT
In the Water with the Waterlilies - Garfield Park Conservatory If you live in the Chicago area, we are so fortunate to have three wonderful places to photograph flowers and plant life. Of course, most people who know me know I spend a lot of time at Chicago Botanic Garden. It is just a few miles from my home and it has become my "home away from home" through my years of photographing flowers and botanicals. We also have two other gems in our area - Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Conservatory, places I spend a lot of time in the winter months. After spending this past Saturday at Garfield Park Conservatory for a unique and wonderful experience called "In the Water with the Waterlilies," I came to realize that Garfield is a wonderful place to photograph year-round and it has incredible and beautiful outdoor gardens to explore in the summer, gardens I didn't even know existed before. The large aquatic garden, teeming with water lilies and lotuses, is only one of those outdoor spaces to explore.

WaterlilyWaterlily "In the Water with the Waterlilies" was, without a doubt, one of the best experiences of the summer for me. The program was led by Kathy Cahill, a Horticulturist and Aquatic Specialist at Garfield. I have known Kathy for a few years and she is one of the nicest, most generous souls I have ever met. Her love of plants is infectious and her willingness to share her knowledge and help others is generous. She is the best possible ambassador for GPC. All the horticulturists and staff at Garfield have impressed me with their friendliness - plain and simple, it's a happy place!

On Saturday we started our morning with breakfast foods, coffee and warm introductions. A huge thank you to Mattie Wilson who organized all the details of the morning, another gem at GPC. The group quickly became very friendly and interactive, which made the experience even more fun. The class was a small group of 10, composed of artists, photographers, scientists and water lily enthusiasts who simply wanted the experience of getting up close and personal with the waterlilies in the water. We learned a bit about the layout of the large pond, what to expect in the water (including the 3 resident Koi named "Noah," "Bubbles" and "Casper" (yes, Casper is white), and how to navigate around waterlilies. I learned an interesting thing I never realized in all my years of photographing waterlilies - a harmless dye is added to the water to darken it. It serves several purposes: controlling algae, making the pond appear deeper and more aesthetically pleasing, and protecting fish from predators. It's also great for us photographers, creating nice dark water to help highlight the real stars, the flowers.

Waterlily Close-UpWaterlily Close-Up Then, into the water we went! We spent about 1 1/2 hours in the water, free to roam within the two areas of the large pond, with Kathy's total trust and blessing to enjoy ourselves. And enjoy ourselves we did! There were literally 100's of waterlilies in the pond. You had to plan your route, as the water lilies are lush and densely planted and it was challenging getting through entwined stems and pads of the plants. What a thrill to be able to get right up close, to touch and smell the waterlilies. The water was about mid-thigh deep - I wore swim shorts, a quick drying swim shirt and water shoes. I went in with my camera and 100mm macro lens as well as a diffuser to block the strong sunlight.

'Nangkwag Muang Prai' Waterlily'Nangkwag Muang Prai' Waterlily The above waterlily was my favorite of the morning - 'Nangkwag Muang Prai,' also known as a "Summoning Lady" or "Waving Princess," referring to the foliage that looks like it is waving. I had never seen a water lily with foliage like this - stunningly beautiful!

The two artists in our group parked themselves with their paints and canvases near a Red Russian lotus that was beginning to open. This shot below was taken from the bridge looking down on the lotus from above. The bridge divides the two sections of the aquatic pond.

Opening LotusOpening Lotus


Up Close with the WaterliliesUp Close with the Waterlilies Below is the underside of a Victoria Waterlily pad. We had to be careful not to get too close to these magnificent pads - the thorns protect them from predators in the water.

Underside of a Waterlily PadUnderside of a Waterlily Pad What a wonderful day this was! I hope GPC will offer this experience again. I encourage you to visit Garfield and explore the many rooms inside the conservatory but also enjoy the outdoor spaces. It is truly a treasure of a place in Chicago!

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) macro photography nangkwag muang prai waterlily summer victoria waterlily pad waterlilies flower photography garfield park conservatory in the water with the waterlilies lotus Mon, 07 Aug 2017 23:41:10 GMT
Atlas Moths at the Chicago Botanic Garden This is my 5th year photographing the butterflies at the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit for Chicago Botanic Garden. I dearly love this early morning time with the butterflies - a chance to capture their beauty and learn about these wonderful creatures, then share my images with the Garden. This year the exhibit has been moved to its permanent location at the Regenstein Learning Campus and it is better than ever. After being away for a couple of weeks I came back to a lush garden full of beautiful flowers and so many butterflies, as well as an incredible display of Atlas moths. When I was there on Wednesday, there were 6 Atlas moths in the serviceberry tree near the pupae emergence room. Since then, 4 more have emerged and been released, bringing the total to 10!

Female Atlas Moth

Atlas MothAtlas Moth Atlas moths belong to the Saturniidae family and are native to the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia.  They are the largest moth in the world in terms of wing surface and their wing span can reach 10-12 inches.  There are varying theories as to why the moth is called the Atlas moth - perhaps being named after the titan of Greek mythology, or because of their atlas or map-like wing patterns, or perhaps because in Cantonese the name translates into "snake's head moth," referring to the patterning of the curved forewing tip that resembles a snake's head with eye spot.

Mating Female and Male Atlas Moths - the male is the smaller moth on top

Atlas Moths MatingAtlas Moths Mating When the moths emerge from the cocoon they have no mouth parts and do not eat, relying only on their fat stores from the caterpillar stage.  Their sole purpose once they emerge is to reproduce. They live only 1 - 2 weeks.  The female secretes a pheromone to attract her mate.  The male Atlas uses his long feathery antennae, which are much larger than the female antennae, to detect the pheromones and find the female.  Once the eggs are laid, the moth dies.  The caterpillars emerge 10-14 days later and the cycle of life begins again - egg, caterpillar, pupa and moth.

Side View of a Female Atlas 

Atlas MothAtlas Moth Atlas MothAtlas Moth Close up of the female Atlas from a previous year - note the transparent triangular windows on the wings.

Atlas Moth - FemaleAtlas Moth - Female Atlas Moth - FemaleAtlas Moth - Female If you haven't been to Butterflies and Blooms yet this year, I highly recommend getting there soon to see these fascinating creatures before they are gone, along with lots of other butterflies and beautiful flowers. 

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) butterflies butterflies and blooms butterfly photography flower photography macro photography moths atlas moths chicago botanic garden Fri, 21 Jul 2017 19:07:05 GMT
Lens Review for the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm Hello Friends! Lensbaby asked me to do a review of the Velvet 85mm for their blog and you can read it here.

So many people have been emailing me with questions about the difference between the Velvet 56mm and the Velvet 85mm. I hope this review will help you understand the differences. I personally would not want to choose between the two lenses. They are both in my bag all the time and used every time I am out on a shoot. Please don't hesitate to contact me through my website if you have questions I can help you with. 

A few images shot recently with the Velvet 85mm...

DahliaDahlia 'Firepot' Waterlily Dahlia'Firepot' Waterlily Dahlia Gooseneck LoosestrifeGooseneck Loosestrife

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) lensbaby velvet 85mm lensbaby velvet 56mm flower photography chicago botanic garden dahlias lens review Fri, 21 Jul 2017 03:10:10 GMT
The New Lensbaby Velvet 85mm Tulip at Tower Hill Botanic GardenTulip at Tower Hill Botanic Garden Yesterday Lensbaby finally launched the new Velvet 85mm lens. I was honored to be asked by Lensbaby to beta test the lens, so I have been shooting with it since the beginning of March. I was literally jumping up and down when the UPS man rang the doorbell and I immediately headed out to give this lens a whirl! Do you know how hard it is to shoot with a lens you are so excited about and not talk about it or share any images until launch day - for four full months?! Finally I can bring those images out of hiding and share them along with my enthusiasm for this lens with others. I'm already getting lots of questions, so hopefully this blog post will answer them.

First, some specs:

Manual Focus and Manual Aperture

Focal Length: 85mm

Aperture Range: f/1.8 - f/16

Minimum Focusing Distance: 9.5 inches (Macro 1:2)

Compatibility: APS-C and Full Frame - Canon DSLR, Nikon DSLR, Sony E, Sony Alpha, Fuji X, Micro 4/3, Pentax K, Samsung NX

Weight: 18.7 oz.

Like the Velvet 56mm (which many of you have heard me say is my favorite lens ever), the Velvet 85mm has that signature velvety, ethereal glow when shot in the lower apertures. The Velvet 85mm is being marketed primarily as a portrait lens. The added compression with the longer focal length and the beautiful bokeh makes it a perfect choice for portrait work, rivaling any great quality 85mm portrait lens.

That being said, it is also a great close-up lens capable of capturing detail along with that signature glow. I primarily use both the Velvets between f/2 and f/5.6 because I want that ethereal look to my images. Focusing at 9.5 inches means it won't get in quite as close as the Velvet 56mm, which focuses at 5 inches, but when you need to get closer, you can always use an extension tube to move in closer. Like the Velvet 56mm, it is perfect for flower photography. The area where it outperforms the Velvet 56mm in my opinion is when you do pull back a bit to include more background. What the Velvet 85mm does to backgrounds will make you swoon (see image above). There are no other words than to say that bokeh is delicious! Yes, the Velvet 56mm produces gorgeous backgrounds, too. If you have heard me talk about flower photography, I talk a lot about the importance of backgrounds. One of the reasons I love all Lensbaby lenses is the beautiful backgrounds they create straight out of camera, very little if any post processing needed. The Velvet 85mm takes that beautiful background a step further.  I will be curious to hear other reviews of the lens, but I also found it easier to focus than the Velvet 56mm. That may be due to the fact that I have an easier time focusing when pulled back a slight bit. I have found myself nailing the focus with very little struggle.  

So bottom line, I know I'm going to get asked, "which one is for me?" Well, in all honesty, being the Lensbaby addict that I am, I will use both equally. If you are a flower photographer who likes to work close to your subjects, the 56mm probably fits the bill. But, if you like doing portrait work or you like pulling back a little in photographing flowers and want that added compression, then the 85mm would be your baby. When I want to be up very close, I'll have the 56mm on, but when photographing groups of flowers (it was amazing with orchids), I'll have the 85mm on. And when I'm photographing my new granddaughter (I'm learning to love newborn photography), I'll reach for the 85mm.

I also encourage those with both the 56mm and the 85mm to do some magical landscapes with the lenses. I have never considered myself a landscape photographer but I began experimenting with both lenses this spring and it has opened a new door for me. I'm now constantly on the lookout for landscapes and small scenes to capture with a bit of magical glow.

And now I'm going to deluge you with a lot of images from the Velvet 85mm...Enjoy! 

  Tulipa 'Cash'Tulipa 'Cash' Shy TulipShy Tulipa 'Foxtrot' Crabapples in BloomCrabapples in Bloom Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids Tulipa 'Orca'Tulipa 'Orca' RoseRose Phalaenopsis OrchidPhalaenopsis Orchid RannunculusRannunculus FernFern Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' 'Firepot' Waterlily Dahlia'Firepot' Waterlily Dahlia TulipTulip Bending in the WindBending in the Wind FernFern Unfolding Echinopsis 'Apricot Glow'Echinopsis 'Apricot Glow' A Peek InsideA Peek Inside Graceful FernGraceful Fern The lens is currently selling for $499.95. For more information or to preorder the lens, visit the Lensbaby website at Lens will be available for shipping on July 11. Please don't hesitate to email me through my website with any questions about the new lens. I'm always happy to talk flower photography or Lensbaby!


]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) lensbaby lensbaby velvet 85mm velvet 85mm velvet 56mm flower photography macro photography soft focus chicago botanic garden Wed, 28 Jun 2017 22:32:44 GMT
Some Tulip Favorites - A Feast for the Eyes! This spring the tulips at Chicago Botanic Garden have been extraordinary. When I photograph flowers, I am on the lookout for interesting subjects with personality or character. Tulips have always been one of my favorite flowers to photograph. They are flowers full of personality, wonderful lines, curves and unique curls. Some years are better than others for finding interesting tulips. This year I feel like I hit the jackpot! Of the early tulips, these pink beauties were my favorites. I shared a post earlier with some of these tulips. They were not labeled so I don't know the name but they were so full of personality, I spent days photographing them. 

The graceful curving leaf wrapping itself around this bud made it a beautiful subject.

Graceful CurveGraceful Curve  This one is clearly a dancer. I think she's doing the flamenco!

Dancing TulipDancing Tulip And perhaps another dancing pose.

Tulip with an AttitudeTulip with an Attitude This one was shot with the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm to create a soft, ethereal look to this tulip with its beautiful curving leaf. 

Tulip StudyTulip Study  Another tulip I loved photographing was the Tulipa 'Akebono' in the beds outside the Graham Bulb Garden. The beautiful sherbet-like colors, popping red edge and the sweeping lines of the petals made these perfect to create more abstract compositions. 

Tulipa 'Akebono'Tulipa 'Akebono' Or pull back and show the graceful lines of these tulips. Tulipa 'Akebono'Tulipa 'Akebono' Tulipa 'Akebono'Tulipa 'Akebono' But my favorite tulip of all time made an appearance again this year in the Sensory Garden and I was thrilled - Tulipa 'Ice Cream." Talk about personality! This tulip is loaded with personality and looks good enough to eat when it fully opens. These are the latest of the tulips to bloom, in fact, they are still opening slowly but surely. They are spectacular at each stage, from bud to fully open. 

Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' And look at that unique curl of the leaf. What a great find! Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' As they open they begin to reveal the "ice cream" within. I'm thinking vanilla, what about you?

Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' I even stood in the rain with my umbrella to catch this one covered in raindrops. Just like an ice cream cone!  Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' And fully's a bowl of ice cream! I adore these tulips! Tulipa 'Ice Cream'Tulipa 'Ice Cream' Although many of the tulips have come and gone, there are still so many beautiful things to see at the Garden right now. Did you read my last post about the crabapples in bloom? They are still beautiful, but they won't last much longer before dropping all their petals like snow. Soon the spring gardens will make way for the summer gardens and there will be a whole new palette of color and beauty to capture. Can't wait for water lilies and dahlias! 


]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden spring tulips tulipa akebono tulipa ice cream flower photography macro photography Sat, 13 May 2017 00:51:45 GMT
Lensbaby Blog Post Graceful CurveGraceful Curve                                                            Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

I was thrilled to be asked to write an article on flower photography for the Lensbaby blog. It is such a pleasure to share my enthusiasm for their wonderful lenses. Please enjoy the post at My favorite lens, the Velvet 56mm, is on sale right now at - $100 off. That's a great deal! After reading my post you'll understand why it is my all-time favorite lens. 

There is still time to join me at the Out of Chicago Summer Conference, June 23-25. I'll be presenting two programs and leading an all day workshop at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Lensbaby reps will be there, too, and you can try Lensbabies all weekend, during my workshop, my flower shootout and for the photowalk Lensbaby is leading. You can read more about this wonderful conference and register here. Use the code "belmont100" to receive $100 off the conference. From Art Wolfe's opening talk on Friday to Rick Sammon's closing talk on Sunday, the weekend is jam-packed with learning and fun. 

It's been a beautiful spring at Chicago Botanic Garden. I've been photographing almost every day and will be sharing more images soon. Happy spring and get out and enjoy nature! 

]]> (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lensbaby, seeinanewway, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm, Out of Chicago Summer Conference, flower photography, Chicago Botanic Garden Fri, 12 May 2017 03:30:25 GMT