One of my many favorite flowers to photograph in spring is ranunculus, more commonly known as Persian buttercup. They are a happy diversion after the crocus and other early spring bloomers have faded and I am waiting for the tulips to bloom. The Chicago Botanic Garden usually puts ranunculus in the garden beds in mid-April, when frost and snow are no longer a worry. This spring there are two beds of ranunculus in the Heritage Garden, one is all yellow, the other with a mix of colors. The most spectacular colors and varieties and the easiest to photograph, however, are in the Enabling Garden's raised beds. There is also a bed of yellow ranunculus surrounding the Merrill Magnolia in the Bulb Garden.
I love the variations of color from one flower to the next and also within the same flower. The first photograph illustrates the beautiful layering of color within a single flower. It's fun to capture the patterns and swirls of the petals sharply focused and up-close or to open up the aperture and focus on one petal of the beautiful layers of the flower from the side. I love the way the flower unfolds in the center; it reminds me of the aperture blades of a lens.
Each ranunculus is different and, as with any flower, I am constantly on the lookout for interesting patterns in the petals or something that sets a particular flower apart from others. I loved the swirl of this particular pale yellow ranunculus and the way the soft light falling on the petals accentuated that swirling pattern.
And always a reminder to work your subject and shoot flowers from a variety of angles. Ranunculus, like many flowers, are just as interesting and beautiful from behind.
The tulips are just beginning to open with our warm, sunny weather the past few days. I will be watching them closely and writing a blog post in the coming week with some tips for photographing tulips. I'm excited to be joining a photowalk to photograph the tulips in Holland, Michigan in a couple weekends so I hope to get some great shots there as well as at the Chicago Botanic Garden!