ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog en-us (C) ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY [email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Wed, 07 Feb 2024 03:59:00 GMT Wed, 07 Feb 2024 03:59:00 GMT ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog 120 120 The New Lensbaby Double Glass 2 Optic Today Lensbaby announced the launch of a new product - the Double Glass 2 Optic. The Double Glass 2 Optic is a remake of the older Double Glass Optic that had drop-in aperture discs. The newer version features an internal aperture system with a range of f/2.5-f/22 and an all-metal design. The optic is a 50mm focal length with a minimum focusing distance of 15 inches. The Double Glass 2 Optic joins the ever-growing line-up of optics offered by Lensbaby that are part of the Optic Swap System designed to be used with the Composer Pro II.

If you are not familiar with the Composer Pro II (along with the older Composer and Composer Pro models), it is the bendable housing on a ball and socket mechanism that mounts directly to your camera. The Optic Swap System is a series of interchangeable optics, each with a different focal length and effect, that can easily be interchanged in your Composer Pro II. With many of the optics, the Composer Pro II can be tilted to change the sweet spot of focus. The exceptions are the Soft Focus 2 and the Twist optics that are used straight ahead. The optics that I love for flower photography include the Sweet 35, Sweet 50, Sweet 80, the Twist, the Soft Focus 2, and now the Double Glass 2. Additionally, this optic can be used in the Lensbaby Spark 2.0, with its accordion-like base that allows you to bend or squeeze to get your focus where you want it. 

The original Double Glass Optic, along with the original Composer Pro, was my very first introduction to Lensbaby. The original optic had drop-in aperture discs that you placed in the optic with a magnetic tool, a bit cumbersome and time-consuming for someone who likes to change the aperture a lot. The new Double Glass 2 Optic has the aperture built-in, making it fast and easy to change.

The Double Glass 2 Optic features a sweet spot of focus with dramatically increasing blur as you move away from the sweet spot. Lower, wider open apertures produce a smaller sweet spot and more blur, while higher, closed apertures give you more area of focus. The optic can be used with 9 different drop-in discs that each produce a unique-shaped bokeh effect. The discs can be stacked up to three deep to get an infinite number of shapes and textures. If you prefer the soft, creamy blur of the Double Glass 2 Optic, you can certainly use it without the drop-in discs. Much of my work is without the discs.

Like the Soft Focus 2 Optic, which has quickly risen to one of my most-loved Lensbabies, the Double Glass 2 Optic has become a favorite, as well. Although I still used my older Double Glass Optic occasionally, the changing of the aperture discs kept it from being one of my most-loved optics. I have been beta-testing the new optic since September and have enjoyed using it with flowers, garden scenes, and all kinds of plant life including desert plants. I have experimented with using the drop-in discs to create all kinds of interesting bokeh effects. Those bokeh effects don’t show up as much when you use the optic for close-up photography but are more apparent when you pull back and use them for small scenes, landscapes, or portraits. As with all the optics, this optic can be paired with the 46mm macro filters or the macro converters to photograph up close.

What makes this optic different than the Sweet 50mm? The drop-in discs to create bokeh effects are one big difference. I have also found the quality of the blur surrounding the sweet spot to be slightly different. The blur of the Sweet 50, especially when used wide open, has a pulled or directional quality. The blur of the Double Glass 2 feels creamier and smoother when used without the bokeh effects discs.  

I’ve included a number of images taken with the Double Glass 2 Optic. They are taken with a variety of apertures, but often wide open to achieve maximum blur. This is an optic that will be in my bag most of the time.

If you have questions about The Double Glass 2 Optic or any Lensbaby product always feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. Although my Lensbaby discount code cannot be used on a new product release, it will work for any other Lensbaby product, including the Composer Pro II and the 46mm macro filters. My referral link to is here. Use the code WBELMONT at checkout to receive 10% off. 

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) macro filters flower photography garden photography Lensbaby Lensbaby Composer Pro II Lensbaby Double Glass 2 Optic Thu, 23 Feb 2023 15:00:21 GMT
Madeline Island and Bayfield in Bloom: A Flower and Macro Photography Retreat Lupines of Madeline IslandLupines of Madeline Island

I am very excited to be teaching alongside Mike Moats, Charles Needle, and Jackie Kramer next summer at the Madeline Island School for the Arts - Madeline Island & Bayfield in Bloom: A Flower and Macro Photography Retreat, June 26-30, 2023.

In this five-day photography retreat, you will learn a wide variety of significant techniques from four master macro and floral photographers utilizing the environs of Madeline Island and the historic port town of Bayfield. Your creative muse will include lupines, wildflowers, boatyard gardens, and woodland plant life. The retreat experience will include a combination of photographing in the field, classroom lectures, post-processing, and image reviews.

The Madeline Island retreat is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the quiet beauty of the island and quaint gardens of Bayfield, and to focus on reawakening your creative spirit. With a small group and four inspiring and supportive instructors to guide you, this retreat is the perfect opportunity to explore many ways to capture the beauty of peaceful surroundings. I look forward to sharing my ideas about developing a more mindful and creative workflow in the field - a workflow that encourages you to connect more deeply with your subject, create photographs that reflect your heart, and reveal the unique stories and emotions that might present themselves in the process. From your initial choice of subject to bringing your images to life with post-processing, each step of the creative process is vital to creating the image that reflects your heart. We’ll explore how to use aperture, control and enhance light, make pleasing and impactful compositions, and create beautiful backgrounds in the camera. I love sharing my passion for Lensbaby lenses and how to use them effectively to bring more emotion and impact to your images.

With only 40 participants, you have lots of time to get to know and learn from instructors, form new friendships and experience the beauty of this amazing setting. I enjoyed teaching at this retreat this past summer and can't wait to go back next summer. The facilities of the school are beautiful and the staff is warm and welcoming. Did I mention how amazing the food is?! This is truly a special place to spend 5 days immersed in photography!  

To learn more about MISA and this wonderful retreat visit the website. Come join us for what promises to be a wonderful learning adventure in a beautiful place! 

Below are some of the lupine images I photographed before and after this summer's retreat. 

Lupine LoveLupine Love

Lupines of Madeline IslandLupines of Madeline Island Shall We Dance?Shall We Dance? Hearts of the LupineHearts of the Lupine

Lupine on Madeline IslandLupine on Madeline Island Eye Spy a HeartEye Spy a Heart

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) photography retreat flower photography lupines macro photography madeline island madeline island school for the arts Sat, 27 Aug 2022 15:31:53 GMT
Exciting News! Out of of Chicago 2023 Garden Conferences I hope you are enjoying the summer and finding lots of opportunities for photographing flowers and plants.
I am excited to announce that I will be an instructor at two upcoming Out of Chicago Conferences - Out of Desert Botanical Garden, March 19-23, 2023, and Out of Chicago Botanic Garden, August 27-31, 2023. These are amazing opportunities to immerse yourself in 5 days of garden photography and learn from a group of passionate and knowledgable instructors who truly love to teach others. 

Join us in Phoenix, Arizona for an immersive experience focused on photographing some of the best collections of unique desert plants in North America. This conference is limited to 45 attendees to make this a more intimate, personalized learning experience. We will spend most of our time together at the Desert Botanical Garden, which features 140 acres of desert plants, including cactus, succulents, trees, and flowers from around the world showcased in cultivated outdoor exhibits and along naturalized trails.

We will be timing our visit with the Garden’s spring flower season, with opportunities to photograph blooming cactus, an extensive range of colorful desert plants, butterflies, and possibly hummingbirds. This conference will also include an extended day trip to Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Arizona’s oldest and largest botanical garden. During the conference, you will have extended time to work with each instructor, photograph on your own, and create a cohesive portfolio of desert plant and flower photographs. Deserts are sometimes perceived as dry, inhospitable places. This conference will challenge that perception through an exploration of these amazing, specially-adapted plants, with the gardens proving a broad range of inspiration for any nature photographer.

I will be teaching alongside a passionate group of instructors: Sarah Marino, Alan Shapiro, Gerri Jones, Colleen Miniuk, and Chrissy Donadi. 

Learn more and register here. Use the discount code 2023GardenAnne to receive $250 off the conference price. The offer expires on July 25, 2022.

Immerse yourself in the Chicago Botanic Garden's 385 acres, which includes 27 individual gardens full of dahlias, roses, waterlilies, lotuses, hummingbirds, butterflies, and much more, along with 3 greenhouses that feature desert plants, tropical, and semi-tropical plants. The Chicago Botanic Garden cultivates a collection of more than 2.6 million living plants, including native species, unusual nonnatives, and adapted cultivars, making it a paradise for flower, plant, and garden photography. Many of you know that this is a garden near and dear to my heart, a place I visit many times a week, and where I do most of my photography.

Late August is the ideal time to visit Chicago Botanic Garden: the gardens are at their lushest and the summer crowds have begun to diminish. During the conference, you will have ample time to wander the garden paths, explore your creativity, practice mindful photography, and explore your subjects deeply. The conference, which is limited to 45 attendees to make this a more intimate, personalized learning experience, includes extended time to work with each of our talented, supportive instructors in the field.

I'm excited to teach alongside an incredible group of instructors: Sarah Marino, Alan Shapiro, Krista McCuish, Charles Needle, and John Barclay.

Learn more and register here. Use the discount code 2023GardenAnne to receive $250 off the conference price. The offer expires on July 25, 2022.

I hope you'll join me for one of these exciting events!

If you missed the recent Out of Chicago webinars leading up to the garden conference announcements, please take some time to watch our inspiring instructors: 

A-Ha Moments in Flower and Plant Photography with all the instructors is here

Beyond Flowers: Finding New Opportunities in the Garden and in Nature with Anne Belmont and Sarah Marino is here



[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden creative photography Desert Botanical Garden desert plants flower photography macro photography photography conference plant photography Garden photography Mon, 18 Jul 2022 13:00:00 GMT
The New Lensbaby Soft Focus 2 Optic Today Lensbaby launched a new product, the Soft Focus 2 Optic. As a Lensbaby Ambassador, I've had the privilege of beta testing this optic since early October, and I have to say it is high on my list of Lensbaby favorites. I can quite honestly say that I love this optic! The optic has spent a great deal of time on my camera since I received it. The Soft Focus 2 Optic produces a dreamy soft glow with subtle sharp detail beneath. The glow is 2 stops stronger than that produced by the Velvet lenses. I found myself drawn to the glow in the wider open apertures, but by increasing the aperture, you can achieve more and more sharpness. This gives the optic wonderful versatility. The dreamy softness is a beautiful effect that fits my style of flower photography perfectly. It didn't take long to fall in love with this optic and the ease of its use. I feel so fortunate that I was able to capture the end of dahlia season last fall when I first received the optic.

The optic is a 50mm focal length with a minimum focusing distance of 15 inches, and can be used with the Composer Pro II system, and paired with the 46mm macro filters or the macro converters to enable you to photograph closer to your subject. It is recommended that you use this optic straight ahead rather than bending it the way many of the optics in the optic swap system are used. If you already own the Composer Pro II (or any of the older Composer Pro systems), you only need to buy the optic. The Composer Pro II comes in all camera mounts. You can also buy the optic in a stand-alone lens holder - the same as is sold with the Twist and the Obscura optic, optics that are also used straight ahead. The stand-alone lens is sold in Canon DSLR, Nikon DSLR, and Sony Mirrorless versions. Hop on over to to see product images of the optic with the Composer Pro II or the stand-alone lens. 

I own the original version of the Soft Focus optic, purchased on eBay many years ago. If you are familiar with this version, you remember that you use it with the drop-in aperture discs. So what's different about the new optic? The new optic features a 12 blade internal aperture system - f/2.5-f/22. You control the aperture by setting it on the optic itself, not by using the drop-in discs. It is all-metal, beautifully made, and a much more sophisticated version of the older optic. It comes with four additional drop-in discs, but these have a different function than controlling aperture - 3 multi-hole discs (a small, medium, and large hole disc) and a sunburst disc. The discs are used to create bokeh effects/shapes in the background as well as serve to balance the sharpness and glow in the optic. You drop them in and take them out with a small magnetic tool that comes with the disc holder.

I'll be sharing lots of images taken with the new Soft Focus 2 optic on social media over the coming weeks, so be sure to find me on Instagram at @annebelmontphotography. For now, I'll share some favorite images made with this optic with you here! These images were all photographed in f/2.5-f/4 without the discs, and with macro filters. I fell in love with the effects in this range, but I will be experimenting with the discs more as the spring season unfolds. I can hardly wait for the spring blooms to appear because this optic is going to be amazing for capturing all my favorites - magnolias, tulips, crabapple blooms, and all the flowers of spring! 


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Composer Pro II dahlia flower photography glow Lensbaby macro photography soft focus Soft Focus 2 Optic Tue, 08 Mar 2022 13:00:00 GMT
Photographing The Beauty of the Garden in Winter Thank you to the many people who attended my Out of Chicago Photo Challenge - "Photographing the Beauty of the Garden in Winter." If you missed it there is a recording of the webinar available on the Out of Chicago website here. This free photo challenge, along with many others, leads up to the Out of Chicago LIVE! Online Photography Conference, March 11-13, 2022. During the conference weekend, I will be presenting a program "Bringing Your Flower Portraits to Life with Post-Processing, as well as doing an image review of images created after my photo challenge. To learn more about the conference and register visit the Out of Chicago website.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography post-processing Out of Chicago LIVE! Out of Chicago photography conference online photography conference Lensbaby Wed, 16 Feb 2022 20:01:57 GMT
Out of Chicago LIVE! Online Photography Conference and a Special Photo Challenge I am excited to be teaching at The Out of Chicago LIVE! Online Photography Conference again this year. This is a once-a-year event where over 60 world-class photographers come together to teach and inspire through pre-conference photo challenges, general presentations by each instructor, team collaborations, image reviews, and tutorials. We have an impressive line-up of instructors this year and I am honored to be among them. During the conference weekend, I will be presenting “Bringing Your Flower Portraits to Life with Post Processing.” This will include post-processing demos of a number of flowers, simple to more complex. Although my true love is being in the garden, making photographs, I do feel even the simplest of post-processing steps can make a big difference in bringing our flower images to life. The images I process will cover the following concepts:

  • The concept of simplicity and elimination of distracting elements, making sure to draw the eye to the main subject.
  • Thinking about backgrounds while composing in-camera, and improving what you have in post-processing.
  • Working with black backgrounds in post-processing.
  • Adding a texture to an image.
  • Simple steps to further enhance Lensbaby images.
  • In addition to showing the steps I use in Lightroom and Photoshop, I will demonstrate the use of simple filters in DXO Nik software to highlight your subject, pull out detail and improve backgrounds.

This year I’ll be doing a pre-conference Photo Challenge on Friday, February 4th at noon CT - “Finding Beauty in the Winter Garden.” This photo challenge is free to the public - you just need to be on Out of Chicago’s mailing list to receive the link to view it live. It will also be recorded and available to view later on the Out of Chicago website. This is a lead-up to the conference and I will discuss the winter project I began in the winter of 2020-2021 and have continued this winter. It began during the early pandemic when many indoor spaces were closed to the public - the conservatories, greenhouses, and flower shows I normally photograph during the winter months. As someone who previously hated winter and being cold, I learned to dress warm, be comfortable outdoors, and embrace the beauty that is abundantly present in the winter garden. This project was transformational both in how I learned to see my subjects and in my attitude about winter. Join me for this free photo challenge. I will challenge you to get out and photograph the unexpected and quiet beauty of winter. For those that take on the challenge and submit images, I will give an image review of images by attendees during the conference weekend, but you do have to be registered for the conference to participate in the image review. 

The conference is a great deal for $300, with 100+ different presentations by over 60 amazing photographers. All presentations are recorded so if you can't view them live, you can watch them for up to a year after the conference. To learn more, sign up for emails, and register go to I hope you'll join me for what promises to be an inspirational weekend of photography and connecting with the Out of Chicago community of instructors and attendees. 

A few images from my winter project: PirouettePirouette

'Pirouette,' Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

Helianthus DancerHelianthus Dancer 'Graceful Dancer,' Lensbaby Velvet 85mm


Still DancingStill Dancing

'Still Dancing,' Lensbaby Sol 45mm





[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lensbaby Sol 45mm Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Lensbaby Velvet 85mm photography conference post-processing winter photography Lensbaby Out of Chicago Sun, 23 Jan 2022 15:00:00 GMT
Photographing the Beauty of Dahlias Happy New Year to you all! We are in the midst of winter, snow, and very cold temperatures here in Chicago. I continue to enjoy working on my winter project "What Remains: The Beauty of Winter in the Garden.," a project I started last winter when so many indoor green spaces were closed due to the pandemic. I have produced some new work this year that I love. In my next blog post, I will share an opportunity for you to learn a little more about this project, see my work, and challenge yourself to get out and find interesting subjects to photograph in winter. Stay tuned for that!

Winter is also a great time to catch up on processing my work from the summer and fall of 2021. Those of you who know me, know that dahlias hold a special place in my heart. I love all flowers, but dahlias have such incredible beauty, and they come in a myriad of varieties, sizes, and a rainbow of colors. They can be photographed in so many different ways. I find such joy in both photographing them and learning about growing them. During the late summer of 2020, while walking in my neighborhood, a daily practice I started during the early pandemic, I stumbled upon the most beautiful dahlia garden a mere 3-4 blocks from my home. That day was an incredible blessing because I met the grower of that garden, Karin England Fink, whose greatest passion is growing dahlias. Karin and I became instant friends, sharing our love for these flowers. That summer and fall, I had the pleasure of photographing all the dahlias in her garden. This past year, Karin leased land and started a micro flower farm, Choosing Calm Farms, planting thousands of dahlia tubers along with other flowers, and creating a successful business of selling her flowers to florists in the area. Flower farming is a lot of hard work, but Karin has the tenacity and passion to make it a successful business. I spent many a happy day at the farm with her photographing her incredible flowers, talking about life and flowers and how they are so intertwined for both of us. Despite the hardships of the pandemic these past two years, there have been many joys. Meeting Karin was certainly one of those joys. I am so grateful for the friendship, and it is that sense of gratitude that has kept me centered and sane during this time. I want to share some of my favorite images from this summer. 

Dahlia 'Chewy'Dahlia 'Chewy," Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

       Dahlia 'Chewy,' Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Dahlia 'Labyrinth'Dahlia 'Labyrinth'

Dahlia 'Labyrinth,' Helios 44-2, Vintage Russian Lens

Petal DancePetal Dance Petal Dance, Lensbaby Sol 45mm, Macro Filters

Dahlia 'Café au Lait' with Curls, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Dahlia Symmetry, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Dahlia 'Peaches 'N Cream"Dahlia 'Peaches 'N Cream" Dahlia 'Peaches 'N Cream,'' Helios 44-2, Vintage Russian Lens

Dahlia 'Café Au Lait'Dahlia 'Café Au Lait' Dahlia 'Café au Lait,' Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Dahlia 'KA's Mocha Katie'Dahlia 'KA's Mocha Katie' Dahlia 'KA's Mocha Katie,' Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Dahlia 'Valley Porcupine'Dahlia 'Valley Porcupine' Dahlia 'Valley Porcupine,' Lensbaby Sol 45mm, Macro Filters

These are a few of the many dahlias I photographed this summer. To see more of the collection visit my gallery "Karin's Dahlia Garden."

Always feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about Lensbaby lenses. As you see, much of my work is captured with these lenses. As a Lensbaby Ambassador, I can offer you a 10% discount on any non-sale items at Use the code WBELMONT at checkout. 


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) dahlia garden flower photography Helios 44-2 Lensbaby Lensbaby Sol 45mm Lensbaby Velvet 85mm macro photography dahlia dahlia farm Sun, 16 Jan 2022 15:02:02 GMT
Out of Chicago Botanic Garden Conference and the New Lensbaby Obscura Hello friends!

I hope the summer is bringing you many opportunities for photography as life begins to return to normalcy. The Chicago Botanic Garden is fully open now and we are excited to be moving forward with holding our Out of Chicago Botanic Garden Conference we had to postpone last summer. I'm excited to be teaching alongside some of my favorite photographers at my favorite garden in the world. This is an immersive, 5-day flower and garden photography conference taking place August 29–September 2nd, 2021, with excursions to the Chicago Botanic Garden and presentations, workshops, classes held at the Embassy Suites North Shore, Deerfield, IL.  Spaces are almost full. Learn more and register at If you have questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

Lensbaby released a new lens this week, the Obscura! I had the opportunity to beta test the lens over the past few months. A blog post with my impressions of the lens is posted on the Lensbaby website - "Capturing Landscapes with the Lensbaby Obscura." This lens is a lot of fun to use and it gave me an opportunity to shoot in a totally new way. Lensbaby is known for getting you out of your comfort zone and stretching your creativity and this lens really did that for me. As always, if you have questions about Lensbaby products, please feel free to reach out to me. 




[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) photography conference Chicago Botanic Garden flower photography garden photography Lensbaby Lensbaby Obscura pinhole photography Thu, 24 Jun 2021 22:48:01 GMT
Madeline Island School of the Arts Photography Retreat Lupines of AcadiaLupines of Acadia

I am very excited to be teaching alongside Mike Moats, Charles Needle, and Jackie Kramer next summer at the Madeline Island School for the Arts - "Madeline Island & Bayfield in Bloom: A Macro Photography Summer Immersion Retreat," June 20-24, 2022.

In this five-day photography retreat, you will learn a wide variety of significant techniques from four master macro and floral photographers utilizing the environs of Madeline Island and the historic port town of Bayfield. Your creative muse will include lupines, wildflowers, boatyard gardens, and beach vegetation.

This summer immersion retreat offers a unique macro and intimate landscape scene photography adventure. Capture over 50,000 blossoming florals, a vivid mosaic of roadside lupine, undulating fruit orchards filled with efflorescence, and Island gardens erupting in a vibrant array of color.

Your retreat experience will include a combination of shooting in the field, classroom lectures, and unique post-processing training utilizing specialized software. Enjoy a ferry ride from Madeline Island to Bayfield, as well as a boat cruise to the Devil’s Island sea caves with in depth evening discussions.

To learn more about MISA and this wonderful retreat visit the website. Come join us for what promises to be a wonderful learning adventure in a beautiful place! 


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography lupines macro photography Madeline Island photography retreat Madeline Island School for the Arts Sun, 06 Jun 2021 16:51:44 GMT
Out of Chicago LIVE! Online Photography Conference, April 9-11, 2021

I'm excited to be teaching at Out of Chicago LIVE!, April 9-11, 2021. Last April's first online conference was so inspiring and I'm looking forward to another great weekend of learning and fun. Energize your photography, connect, and engage with some of the world's best photographers. Our line-up of talented instructors is amazing - Sarah Marino, Charlotte Gibb, Bryan Peterson, Michael Frye, Franka Gabler, Harold Ross, Gerri Jones, Harold Davis, John Barclay, Alister Benn, Cole Thompson, Richard Martin - to name a few. Learn about all our instructors, their classes and register at

I will be teaching a session on "Creative Flower Photography: Celebrating the Beauty of Spring." 

Let's celebrate the arrival of spring with a deep dive into some new and creative approaches to photographing the favorite flowers of spring - tulips, crocuses, ranunculus, magnolias, hellebores and more. We'll talk about how taking a slow, mindful approach and fully exploring the unique characteristics and personalities of each of these flowers will help you create images that convey impact, emotion and sometimes even a story. An exploration of unique compositions, controlling light, weather considerations in spring, using a range of apertures and lenses, controlling backgrounds and some helpful tips on gear and post processing will all be explored. 

What you'll learn:

  • Explore creative approaches to photographing a variety of spring's most beautiful flowers.
  • Learn how to create impact and emotion through a slow and mindful workflow.
  • Explore creative ways to use aperture and light and best practices for creating beautiful backgrounds.
  • Learn about helpful gear for flower photography and some post processing tips.

I'll also be doing a session "Photographing the Chicago Botanic Garden with Chris Smith and Anne Belmont."

Chris and I will take you on a virtual walk through the gardens of the Chicago Botanic Garden and talk about the upcoming Out of Chicago Botanic Garden Conference, August 29 - September 2. Chicago Botanic Garden has 27 different gardens and 4 natural areas where we will be photographing during the conference, and it is one of the most beautiful gardens in the world for flower and garden photography.  If you plan to attend the conference or are interested in photographing flowers in garden settings, this session will help you learn about the beautiful spaces at the Garden, what flowers will be blooming during the summer and some tips and suggestions for equipment for photographing them. 

Come join the fun and the learning! The conference is $300 for the entire weekend and you will have access to all the recordings for a full year after the conference. Please also join me for the Out of Chicago Botanic Garden Conference, August 29-Sept. 2, or the Out of Acadia Conference, October 10-14, where I will be teaching this year. When you register for the Out of Chicago LIVE! conference, you will receive $250 off any of these destination conferences.  

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography Lensbaby macro photography online photography conference spring Chicago Botanic Garden Photography conference Sun, 07 Mar 2021 02:50:18 GMT
A Podcast with David Johnston - "Photography as Art Therapy with Anne Belmont" Spring will be here soon! Meanwhile, I'm still enjoying capturing the beauty of winter in the garden. We had a period of frigid temperatures and two feet of snow, and it was too cold to be out. We have finally climbed back into the 30's again and I'm back to capturing more subjects in the winter garden and enjoying my time outdoors. Nonetheless, I am very excited about spring and I'm observing more and more signs that is is closer. Those tulips and colors of the garden are calling!

I just did a podcast "Photography as Art Therapy" with David Johnston of The Landscape Photography Show. It was a great conversation and David is a wonderful interviewer.

David and I will both be presenters at the upcoming Out of Chicago LIVE! online photography conference, April 9-11. I'm busy preparing brand new presentations for this conference. My main presentation will be Creative Flower Photography: Celebrating the Beauty of Spring. I'll be going into lots of approaches and tips for photographing the favorite flowers of spring, including tulips! Last year was an amazing success and we know this year will be, as well. We have lots of new instructors and new ideas for a weekend filled with photography inspiration. I'll be posting more info about the conference and we'll be releasing the full schedule soon, but check out the website and register!  

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography Landscape Photography Show Lensbaby Out of Chicago podcast spring flowers tulips Photography conference Tue, 23 Feb 2021 18:46:16 GMT
What Remains: The Beauty of Winter in the Garden Hanging OnHanging On

I have written an article for the Nature Photographers Network "What Remains: The Beauty of Winter in the Garden." This project has been meaningful and transformative, and has helped me find subjects of beauty in the midst of winter and a pandemic. Writing the article was cathartic and helped me to organize all the thoughts swirling in my head about why this project was meaningful to me now, at this particular time. This project is ongoing, so I will continue to post images in the gallery I have set up here. Enjoy, and I hope it will inspire you to get out and find the beauty of winter. I promise you it's there - just open your eyes and your heart! 

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lensbaby Lensbaby Sol 45mm Lensbaby Spark 2.0 Lensbaby Velvet macro photography nature photography winter Thu, 14 Jan 2021 01:28:49 GMT
Lensbaby Conference Presentation - Finding Your Heart If you were unable to attend the Lensbaby Conference on December 8-10, here is a link to the YouTube video of my presentation:  Finding Your Heart: Creating Flower Portraits with Impact, Emotion and Joy.  Screenshot

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lensbaby conference Lensbaby Ambassador flower photography Lensbaby Velvet Lensbaby Sol 45mm Lensbaby Composer Pro II macro photography art therapy Tue, 22 Dec 2020 03:33:29 GMT
The Lensbaby Spark 2.0 - Some Helpful Tips The Spark 2.0 is a new and unique lens in the Lensbaby line-up with a very spontaneous, organic, and dance-like feel. The lens is based on the design of the original Lensbaby 2.0, introduced in 2004.  The accordion-like base of the lens allows you to bend or squeeze to get your focus where you want it. It is sold with the Sweet 50 optic, but any of the optics in the optic swap system are compatible with the Spark 2.0. Just as with the Composer Pro II system, to remove the Sweet 50 optic from the Spark 2.0, gently twist the optic counter-clockwise. To add another optic insert and twist clockwise until it clicks into place. 

I have received many questions from people struggling to understand the lens and how to use it, so I decided to write a blog post with some tips I have learned as I experiment with the lens. With continued closings due to COVID-19, all the local conservatories where I normally photograph during the winter are closed. I am seeking the beauty and grace in the dying flowers and plants outdoors during winter. This has been a fun and creative project and the Spark has been a perfect lens for this new adventure. 

Screenshot When starting with the Spark, shoot with the sweet spot in the middle to practice understanding how near or far you need to be from your subject. Don’t worry about bending yet. The close focusing distance of the Sweet 50 optic is 15 inches. If you want to be closer to your subject you will need to add the 46mm macro filters or macro converters to the optic. A good place to start is to use the +4 macro filter or one of the macro converters and begin to experiment. Start by moving your body and camera to figure out how close or far away you need to be to get focus. Move your body and camera further from or closer to the subject until it’s in focus.

Hydrangea in WinterHydrangea in Winter After you’ve gotten a feel for distance you can also combine squeezing to attain focus. Try backing up a bit and gently squeezing the lens straight back to see your image come into focus. For shooting close-up subjects, I use a combination of moving my camera and body in and out with the gentle squeezing to focus.

Graceful CurvesGraceful Curves To focus subjects further away, as in a landscape shot, squeeze the Spark toward you until your subject comes into focus. The more you squeeze the lens, the further away it will focus. It will focus all the way to infinity. Try this without bending the lens first and just practice focusing on things in a distance by pulling straight back and watching the center come into focus. Later you can add bending and moving your sweet spot.

Standing TallStanding Tall Once you feel you understand finding your focus in the center, start to practice by composing the area you want in focus in other parts of the frame. Use the grid in your viewfinder to help you know where your sweet spot of focus is going to be placed and what direction you are going to bend. If you want to focus on something to the right of the frame, bend the lens a little to the right (don’t bend too much - a little will do it). If you want to focus on something in the left, top, or bottom of the frame bend in those directions until you see it come into focus. If you have focus-peaking technology in your camera, use it to help you know what area is in focus in your frame. When you feel like you’ve found your area and the correct bend of the Spark, hold it steady while you take the photo. It might feel a bit awkward at first to hold the Spark and try to release the shutter, but it will become intuitive and easy with practice. I find that I hold and bend the Spark with my middle and ring finger on the right side of the lens, leaving my pointer finger on the right to reach up and press the shutter button. On the left side of the lens, I use my middle and pointer fingers to bend. You’ll find the positioning that feels best for your hands.

Leaf CurlsLeaf Curls The Sweet 50 optic has an aperture range of f/2.5 - f/22, so experiment with a range of apertures. The lower apertures will give you a small sweet spot of focus surrounded by a lot of blur and the higher apertures will give you a larger sweet spot and less blur. I love to use this lens wide open to get the beautiful blur and a smaller sweet spot of focus, but it depends on my subject as to how I make that choice.

Flowers of WinterFlowers of Winter Remember to keep your shutter speed high enough to counter any camera shake or movement. If your shutter speed dips down too low, you will get blurry photos. Raise your ISO as needed. Also, remember that when you are shooting closer than the 15-inch minimum focusing distance of the Sweet 50, you may have to add or subtract those macro filters or converters to find the right focus, or use them in combination with squeezing to bring your subject into focus.

If you are interested in purchasing the Spark 2.0, please feel free to use my affiliate link and put in the discount code WBELMONT at checkout to receive an additional 10% off. As always, if you have questions, please reach out to me at [email protected].  

Leaf DancerLeaf Dancer


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden Lensbaby Lensbaby Spark 2.0 Lensbaby Sweet 50 Optic macro photography winter Mon, 14 Dec 2020 03:07:42 GMT
New Online Learning Opportunities - Flower Photography and Lensbaby! Curves of the RoseCurves of the Rose

It's hard to believe we are rounding the corner to November. As I write this, it's snowing near the lake in Chicago where I live. This likely means the end of the flower season. It's always sad for me, especially this year knowing that my usual places to photograph during the winter - Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Conservatory - are not open because of Covid. It's going to be a long winter, but I'm filled with hope for the 2021 flower season and I have so much processing from the last few months to catch up on.

November is a busy month of online presentations for me and I want to share about two of them. 

On Saturday November 14 at 11 a.m. PT (1 p.m. CT/2 p.m. ET) I am honored to be asked by renowned flower photographer Harold Davis to join him for the "Master Photographer Panel with Anne Belmont and Bryan Peterson." You can learn more about this presentation and register here. This presentation will benefit the Center for Policing Equity. Bryan and I will each discuss our work and then join Harold in a panel discussion and Q&A session. I have taught with both Harold and Bryan and I know this will be a fun and creative program. 

On Thursday, November 19th at 3 p.m. ET, I am very excited to be presenting an online program "Capturing the Magic of Flowers with Lensbaby" in the B&H Event Space. I'll be sharing my passion for Lensbaby lenses in my flower and botanical photography. I'll give a peek into my approach to flower photography, how Lensbaby helps me create impact and emotion in my images and why these lenses unleash creativity. I will give detailed descriptions and tips for using each of my favorite lenses for flowers, helping you to understand and master these unique and artistic lenses. This program is free and sponsored by Lensbaby and you can register for it here.

I hope you will join me for one or both of these programs. I always love sharing my love for flower photography and I am thankful for the online platform until we can safely all meet in person. Stay well, my friends, and always feel free to reach out if I can help you in your pursuit of photography!   


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Bryan Peterson Harold Davis Lensbaby macro photography online learning photography education B&H Event Space flower photography Mon, 26 Oct 2020 15:46:42 GMT
Finding Beauty in a Time of Adversity We are now in our 8th month of this global pandemic and, if predictions are right, we'll be fighting this battle well into 2021. It has been a difficult year of loss for everyone – loss of life, loss of jobs and income, loss of time with our families, and loss of many of the simple pleasures we took for granted. Add to that the political unrest, fires in the West, hurricanes and climate concerns – some days it all seems like too much.

Conferences and workshops cancelled, the photography world adapted and moved to online formats. I am very proud to have been involved in two very successful Out of Chicago online conferences, one in April, the second in August. Those conferences helped to contribute to income for photographers who suddenly found their livelihoods in jeopardy, and they provided attendees with some inspiring learning opportunities. I look forward to being a part of more online opportunities during the fall and winter. Although I deeply miss teaching others in-person, online teaching keeps so many of us connected and learning in a safe way for the time being. 

When shelter-in-place was issued in mid-March and my beloved Chicago Botanic Garden closed, I wondered how I would continue doing what I love to do – photographing flowers and nature. I couldn't imagine missing my favorite season at CBG - the emergence of spring and the tulips blooming. If I wanted to continue photographing, I had no choice but to get out in my yard and my neighborhood and find spring. That's exactly what I did. My long walks with my camera in my neighborhood have been my therapy, my escape from all the worries and anxiety brought forward by this unsettled time. It centers me and fills me with hope. As a former art therapist, I understand the power of creating art to help us deal with adversity and to better understand our emotions. My personal photography is always centered around healing and bringing my heart and emotions into the process of creating. I am amazed at the treasures I found in a neighborhood I have lived in for over 30 years. I discovered many things I have never noticed before – crocuses in a church yard nearby, tulips in a public park and in neighbors' yards, magnolia and crabapple trees in bloom in many places in our village. Every walk brings new discoveries.

Petal DancePetal Dance

   Tulip In A Neighborhood Public Park, Photographed With The Lensbaby Sol 45mm.

We Are in This TogetherWe Are in This Together

                   Ferns In My Yard – "We're In This Together" – Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Crabapple BlossomsCrabapple Blossoms Crabapple Blooms At Our Village Community House, Photographed With The Lensbaby Composer Pro II And Soft Focus Optic

During the summer, Chicago Botanic Garden reopened in a safe way, requiring tickets and limiting numbers, as well as urging mask use. It was wonderful to be back photographing the gardens filled with dahlias, zinnias, waterlilies and lotus flowers – all my favorite things to photograph. My happy place was once again open, and more beautiful than ever. 

Pink LotusPink Lotus

Lotus In Bloom In Morning Light – Chicago Botanic Garden, 70-30mm lens.

The Heart of the DahliaThe Heart of the Dahlia The Heart Of The Dahlia – Chicago Botanic Garden, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Zinnia PatternsZinnia Patterns Zinnia Patterns – Chicago Botanic Garden, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Weekends proved to be a bit more crowded than I was comfortable with at the Garden, so I resurrected my neighborhood walks during the weekends. Something remarkable happened! One day I felt myself pulled in a direction I don't usually walk. I remember distinctly switching directions at several times during that walk and saying to myself, "let's go this way instead." I found myself walking down a street I had only walked down once before early in the spring and now being face-to-face with the most magnificent dahlia garden. As I am standing there on the sidewalk with my jaw dropped, looking at these amazing, prize-winning dahlias lining the sidewalk, Karin, the homeowner, drove up and greeted me. That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship of two people with a passion for dahlias - one growing them, one photographing them. Karin is amazing. She has only lived in this house for a year, yet she has completely transformed her entire yard into a paradise of flowers, veggies, herbs, and so many other beautiful plants. She plans to start a dahlia farm and has already ordered 12,000 dahlia plants for next year. Her deep love of flowers, her expertise in growing them and, most of all, her passion will no doubt lead her to success. She sells many of her dahlias and donates the money to a food bank. She also gives many flowers to neighbors and friends, helping others to share in the joy of her beautiful flowers. She is one of the kindest, most generous spirits you could imagine. I am so honored to know her. I have been back to her garden several times and each time she shares tidbits of knowledge with me and I give her tips on photographing her dahlias. She has sent me home with dahlias to photograph at home and that has led to many, many blissful hours lost in those beautiful flowers. We hope to collaborate in many ways in the future. I feel so blessed and so fortunate that fate led me in her direction that Sunday in September. Here is a sampling of photographs I have taken of Karin's dahlias. Everyday I post new images on my Instagram page @annebelmontphotography and be sure and follow Karin's page @choosingcalm.

Dahlia 'Gitt's Perfection'Dahlia 'Gitt's Perfection'

Dahlia 'Gitt's Perfection' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Sol 45mm

Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait'Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait' Dahlia 'Cafe Au Lait' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

Dahlia 'AC Chelan'Dahlia 'AC Chelan' Dahlia 'AC Chelan' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Composer Pro II With Sweet 50 Optic

Dahlia Curls - Dahlia 'Steve Meggos'Dahlia Curls - Dahlia 'Steve Meggos' Lost In The Curves Of The Beautiful Dahlia 'Steve Meggos' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Dahlia 'Camano Buz'Dahlia 'Camano Buz' Dahlia 'Camano Buz' – Karin's Dahlia Garden, Lensbaby Sol 45mm

I have some exciting learning opportunities coming in November and I am busy preparing new presentations for these events. On Nov. 9th I will be doing a Zoom presentation for Morton Arboretum Photographic Society at 7 p.m. I have presented for this group before and I'm excited to do it again. MAPS is a wonderful and active photography group.

On Sat. November 14th at 1 p.m. CT, I'll be joining Harold Davis and Bryan Peterson for a Master Photographer webinar to benefit Center for Policing Equity. You can learn more about this webinar here

On Thursday, November 19th at 3 p.m. ET/2 p.m. CT, I'll be doing a free webinar on Lensbaby lenses and flower photography for B&H Event Space: "Capturing the Magic of Flowers," sponsored by Lensbaby. You can register for this webinar here.

Remember that, as a Lensbaby Ambassador, I always have a discount code for you if you interested in purchasing anything from the Lensbaby website. Reach out to me and I'll provide you with the info and code. 

I hope that each of you is doing well during this difficult time, continuing to get out in whatever way you can to photograph, and finding joy in the beauty of nature.         

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography Lensbaby Lensbaby Ambassador macro photography nature photography therapy art therapy Chicago Botanic Garden covid 19 dahlias Sun, 11 Oct 2020 19:15:37 GMT
Online Learning Opportunities - Out of Chicago IN-DEPTH and Webinar with Sarah Marino What a year it's been! Covid 19 has certainly put a damper on travel and photo opportunities this year, even closing down my beloved Chicago Botanic Garden for several months. I used the time to find subjects in my neighborhood and, I have to admit, those daily walks kept me centered through this difficult time. I hope all my readers were able to get out and do some photography, too. Out of Chicago came to the rescue in April with a wonderful online conference that brought 70 photographers and over 800 attendees together for a successful and uplifting learning experience. We are about to do it again and I'd like to share with you some details.

Please join nature photographer Sarah Marino and me as we pair up to teach a deep-dive into "Photographing Plants and Flowers in New, Creative Ways: An In-Depth Exploration" at Out of Chicago IN-DEPTH: A Live Online Photography Workshop Weekend, August 21-23, with image reviews on September 2 and 3. I am excited to teach this in-depth class with Sarah. She has been one of my photography heroes from way back. I admire her work and her skilled teaching. We have been working hard on this new presentation and can't wait to share it with others.

This is a brand new, interactive format from Out of Chicago with new, unique classes that have never been taught before, including 30+ advanced sessions from over 50 world-class photographers, some brand new to Out of Chicago. We'll have a variety of topics and genres, including landscape, nature, travel, street, architecture, post-processing and more. Two instructors lead each session and share with you their individual methods and practices on a favorite topic. Assignments will be given to get you out to shoot and return for two days of image reviews that highlight what you've learned. You'll be able to watch up to 5 sessions live throughout the workshop weekend, and then have access to all the presentations on video for up to a year after the conference. Please visit our website to see the amazing line-up of instructors and learn more details: If you are interested in registering, please use my personal discount code to get $50 off: BELMONT.

Another exciting opportunity leading up to the conference:

BW Webinar AdBW Webinar Ad

Botanical Beauty: Case Studies on Creatively Photographing Plants and Flowers

Tuesday, August 11 - 6PM ET, 5 PM CT, 4PM MT and 3PM PT

Join Sarah Marino and me for a free webinar about creative approaches to photographing plants and flowers. Using in-depth case studies, Sarah and I will talk through these topics: the importance of connecting with your subject, deeply observing details, creating a compelling composition, working with different kinds of light, using a shallow depth of field, and processing to help realize your vision of a scene. This webinar is a free preview of the four-hour, in-depth class that Sarah and I will be teaching together on this topic for the upcoming Out of Chicago In-Depth online photography conference.

This webinar is a great opportunity to learn from two photographers, each with a different perspective and approach to photographing similar subjects. Due to limited space, you must register in advance if you would like to participate in the live webinar. By registering for this webinar, you consent to being added to our respective mailing lists (you can unsubscribe at any time and your email address will never be shared). The link to register for the webinar is here.

I hope you'll join me for one or both of these events. Always feel free to reach out if you have questions. Lastly, if you ever need a discount code for Lensbaby products, I'm officially a Lensbaby Ambassador now. My affiliate link to Lensbaby is here. Use the discount code WBELMONT to receive 10% when you check out.

Stay well and keep learning and photographing! I hope to see you online in August! 




[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Thu, 30 Jul 2020 11:00:00 GMT
Out of Chicago LIVE! Online Global Photography Conference, April 24-26 Our Out of Chicago team has been busy putting together a very exciting event to help us all connect with others during this time of social isolation. Please join me at the Out of Chicago LIVE! Online Global Photography Conference taking place April 24-26, 2020. Without leaving home, immerse yourself in photography inspiration and learning with three days of live presentations and 100+ interactive sessions, including panel discussions, tutorials, individual photo challenges and group image reviews. Learn face to face from over 60 world-class professional photographers that love to teach. Watch what you can during the conference weekend but everything will be recorded so you will be able to watch for a year after the conference. The majority of profits for this event will go directly to the instructors who have lost workshop and teaching opportunities during this time. I'll be teaching about flower photography, creativity and, of course, Lensbaby! To register and for more information, visit our website at www.outofchicago/live. It's going to be an amazing event! 




[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) online photography conference Out of Chicago LIVE photography photography conference Out of Chicago Sat, 21 Mar 2020 18:53:45 GMT
Some Thoughts on Creating Beautiful Backgrounds in Flower Photography Happy almost spring! With the time change and a few days of warmer, sunshiny weather, it feels like spring is closer. I know here in Chicago we can get tricked into thinking spring is almost upon us, and then we get that unexpected snowstorm that throws us back into winter. I'm waiting patiently! Meanwhile, I have been busy photographing the beautiful orchid show at Chicago Botanic Garden, as well as the spring flower show at Garfield Park Conservatory.  I hope to get to the spring flower show at Lincoln Park Conservatory sometime this week. This is how I stay excited about flower photography and continue my own development as a photographer while waiting for the blooms to begin outdoors.

Phaleanopsis OrchidsPhaleanopsis Orchids           Phalaenopsis Orchids photographed at Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Watercolor TulipWatercolor Tulip                  Having fun with tulips at Garfield Park Conservatory, Lensbaby Sol 45mm, background straight out of camera.

I want to share some thoughts about working with backgrounds, something that flower and macro photographers often struggle with. I wrote an article about creating beautiful backgrounds on the Visual Wilderness blog a few months ago and, to begin, I would encourage you to read that here. In the article, I write about the importance of backgrounds, checking your whole frame/composition, simplifying, learning to position yourself for the cleanest background, and using aperture and lenses to control backgrounds. At the end, I talk about using textures in your background to add visual interest and create a more beautiful background.

Although I know that using textures for backgrounds is very popular in the flower photography world, my use of textures is very minimal and a little different from most. My true love is to capture a beautiful background in camera by employing all the techniques I talked about in the Visual Wilderness article. I actually enjoy the challenge of creating beautiful backgrounds. Rather than assuming I can use a texture to correct a difficult background, I will work hard to create the best possible background in camera. It might mean finding a different flower or it might mean changing my position, my aperture, or my lens. I live for those images where the background is so beautiful straight out of camera, it compliments and adds to the flower itself. It's one of many reasons I love photographing flowers with Lensbaby lenses – they can create stunning backgrounds straight out of camera. The majority of my work is created that way.  

This tulip image captured with the Lensbaby Sol 45mm was such a time, where a lucky combination of a beautiful subject, a beautiful background and knowing the lens that would capture it successfully was pure magic. I had so much fun photographing that beautiful tulip! The fixed aperture of f/3.5 in the Sol 45mm captured enough detail in the tulip - the sensuous lines and raindrops - along with the beautiful blur and bokeh of the colorful Moroccan Toadflax set in the distance behind the tulip.

Tulipa 'Ballerina'Tulipa 'Ballerina' What if those perfect set of circumstances don't present themselves? What if no matter what you do, you still end up with a messy, distracting background? What if you just can't move on from that flower to find another with a better background because you LOVE THAT FLOWER and it has entangled you in a relationship and pulled you in? This certainly happens to me. When it does, I ask myself what I could do in post processing to make a stronger image, to correct that less-than-perfect background. Here are two suggestions.

Let's start first with a technique you can use without using textures. If you photograph flowers on a tripod, you have some added power over that background. Yes, those of you that know me are saying, "But, Anne, you rarely use a tripod!" Yes, I do prefer to shoot handheld when possible, but there are times when it is necessary to be on a tripod, and this is one of them. In the orchid below, photographed with my 180mm macro lens, I knew I needed a higher aperture to get the important parts of the foreground flower in focus. The complexity and depth of the orchid called for more depth of field. I experimented with a range of apertures (i.e. f/6.3 - f/11) and found that I liked the focus at f/8. Just enough of the foreground flower was in focus at f/8 to portray my vision of this grouping of orchids. You might prefer more or less focus in the image; there is no one right or wrong answer. This is why I always recommend shooting in a range –  give yourself choices and look at them carefully on your computer screen. Although the flower was where I wanted it, an aperture of f/8 brought forth too much detail and more distracting elements in my background. Orchids are some of the most difficult flowers to photograph because their backgrounds can be very challenging and full of distracting elements. I definitely wanted a softer background. After photographing the orchid in that range of higher apertures, I then photographed the flower wide open at f/3.5 to get a softer background, knowing that I would blend the two images together in Photoshop. You need to be on a tripod and make sure you don't move your camera between shots if you are going to blend two images together. This ensures that they can be perfectly aligned in Photoshop. Change your aperture carefully between shots and use a self timer, cable release or remote to keep your hands away from the camera as much as possible. 

In Lightroom I chose the two images (f/3.5 and f/8) I wanted to take into Photoshop by holding down the Command key and selecting the two images. From Lightroom I brought the two images into Photoshop in layers (Photo...Edit in....Open as Layers in Photoshop). There are other ways to bring images into Photoshop in layers but this is a simple way I like to use. I made sure that the image shot at f/3.5 was on top of the image shot at f/8 in the layers panel (you can drag the layers up or down to rearrange them). I created a mask on the second layer, the image shot in f/3.5. The mask icon is the white square with a black circle in it below the layers panel - simply click it to add a mask to your layer. I selected the brush tool and set it to black with an opacity of 100% to paint over the foreground flower. This revealed the more focused orchid in the layer underneath. You could also do this in reverse. If the more focused layer is on top, you would simply paint the background through, rather than the flower. I chose the way I did it because the flower required much less painting than the background, but either works. You do need to be precise in your painting, particularly at the edges of the flower. Make your brush smaller around the edges to give you more control. If all of this sounds like Greek to you, I would suggest finding some Photoshop video tutorials on using layers, masks and blending images. It may sound intimidating but it's actually quite easy. I'm far from a Photoshop expert and there may be other slightly different ways to accomplish these steps, but this is the way I learned and it makes sense to me.  

So there you have it – the focus in the flower and the beautiful soft background with two images! 

Before I move on to technique #2, you might be asking, "How is she using a tripod in an orchid exhibit? Isn't that prohibited?" Yes, during normal hours, tripods are prohibited in most flower shows. At Chicago Botanic Garden, we have "Photographers' Hours," a time they sell a limited number of tickets for an early morning shoot on Tuesday from 8:15 a.m. until the exhibit opens to the public at 10 a.m. Tripods are allowed during this time. It's such a nice perk for us photographers!

Here's another variation of blending two images together in Photoshop. Suppose you have that flower that you have fallen in love with, as I did with the tulip below shot last week at Garfield Park Conservatory. Those ruffles had me at the get-go! As I looked through the viewfinder of my Lensbaby Velvet 85mm, experimented with aperture and moved around, I quickly realized that I just couldn't get the focus I wanted in those ruffles and have a pleasing background. Garfield restricts the use of tripods on most days, so I was limited to hand-holding my camera. The tulip was surrounded by foliage that was pulling my eye away from the tulip. I could have shot it in a wider open aperture, creating more blur in the background, but I'd be sacrificing some of the focus where I wanted it. I could have worked hard to deemphasize that foliage in post processing, perhaps burning in the leaves a bit, perhaps further blurring them, but I had a different idea of how to deal with the problem and to bring more impact to my image.

First, I photographed the image of the tulip at the aperture that was most pleasing to me and expressed the vision I had of the flower itself. In this case it was f/4. You can see the result in the raw image below. The tulip was the way I wanted it, but the surrounding leaves of the tulip were drawing my eye away (yes, I know, I'm picky about my backgrounds – it's not that bad, but it's not the image I wanted).  Second, I looked around the same garden for some nice complimentary colors that would add some visual interest to the image (purple is complimentary to the orange in the tulip - an article I wrote about color theory might be helpful). I photographed a scene with purple flowers nearby, throwing it completely out of focus (see the blurred image below). In Photoshop I did the same steps as the orchid above, bringing both images into Photoshop in layers, with the blurred layer on top of the tulip image. Creating a mask, I painted the flower and stem through with the black brush, leaving the beautiful background with the blurred purple flowers to compliment the tulip. In this case, you may need to lower the opacity of the blurred layer on top so you can see the flower underneath to do your painting, then pull it back up up when you are done. I love the result! The image came alive!

Although I have purchased textures to use in my processing from outside sources, I have found many of them to be too strongly textured to fit my vision. I tend to gravitate to very soft textures or background blends so that they look more natural. I don't necessarily want you to know I've used a texture; it needs to be subtle – simply a way to introduce more blur or add subtle visual interest or color when I can't get it in camera. That's not to say that using more defined textures is bad. On the contrary, I've seen a lot of beautiful work created with textures. It's just not always my personal vision of a flower or my style. I love the idea of creating a blurred background in the same garden, too, although it can certainly be a blurred image you have photographed at another time, another garden. I have been collecting these images for years, some used, some waiting for the right image to be paired with. With this technique the image is completely mine, not a blend with someone else's texture. I can also control what colors I want to bring into the image to add even more impact. 

This is a technique that, after teaching together last summer at Longwood Gardens, I discovered my dear friend Jackie Kramer uses, as well. Jackie creates bold, beautiful backgrounds, often combining multiple images of textures she has photographed, but the work is completely hers.

Raw Image with Background Captured in Camera           Unedited Image  - Flower is great but the background is just not doing it for me! 

          Image photographed in the same garden completely out of focus.

Tulip with RufflesTulip with Ruffles          Finished image combining both images to create blurred, colorful background with complimentary colors.

I keep a folder of those out-of-focus images shot in gardens and I might choose one later on that works well with an image, as I did in the cattleya orchid image below photographed at Longwood Gardens last summer with the Lensbaby Velvet 85mm. I sat with that image for months, not sure how I wanted to work with the unappealing background but loving the beautiful orchid. I came upon a blurred background I had shot over a year ago in a garden and the colors coordinated perfectly with the orchid. Viola!

          Unedited Photograph of a Cattleya Orchid

           Blurred background used with cattleya orchid

Cattleya OrchidCattleya Orchid           Finished image

Think about these two techniques when you have a challenging background to deal with in the field. I still urge you to look for subjects that have pleasing backgrounds you can create in camera. I think it is a skill worth practicing and learning well with any macro photography subject. Backgrounds can make or break your image. Challenge yourself to create the best possible backgrounds in camera. When, however, you want to add a little visual interest to an image or further blur distracting elements, these techniques will help you create that vision of a flower you love.    

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) blur Lensbaby macro photography orchids spring textures tulips backgrounds flower photography Tue, 10 Mar 2020 15:47:48 GMT
Picturing Success Podcast with Rick Sammon I am honored to be a guest on Rick Sammon and Larry Becker's Picturing Success Podcast. The podcast interview with Rick was a lot of fun to do. We talk about creativity, my approach to photographing my subjects, Lensbaby lenses and lots more. If you'd like to listen to the podcast, you can find it here. Enjoy!  

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography photography podcast macro photography creativity Lensbaby Anne Belmont Rick Sammon Mon, 27 Jan 2020 17:22:28 GMT
The Out of Chicago Botanic Garden Flower and Garden Photography Conference More exciting photography opportunities! In August I will be teaching alongside many of my favorite photographers at the Out of Chicago Botanic Garden Photography Conference. I am proud to be a staff member at Out of Chicago and help organize this one-of-a-kind conference. It takes place in Deerfield, Illinois (and, of course, Chicago Botanic Garden) from August 23-27, 2020, and I would love for you to join me! Spaces are filling fast and this conference will sell out. Use my personal discount code BELMONT to receive $250 off before the February 28th deadline. For detailed info about the conference visit our website. Come join us for a 5 day immersion in flower and garden photography like no other with some amazing instructors! 


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography garden photography Lensbaby photography conference Chicago Botanic Garden Thu, 23 Jan 2020 18:57:07 GMT
Mike Moats Macro Photography Conference in Spartanburg, South Carolina  

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun'Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun'

I am pleased to announce that I will be a presenter at Mike Moats Macro Conference in Spartanburg, SC, October 24-25, 2020. Mike announced the conference last week and it is already close to being sold out. If you are interested, act fast! This will be my second time presenting at Mike's conference and I highly recommend it. I'm excited to be a part of it again. Mike does a great job organizing the conference and it is a perfect mix of presentations by well-known photographers and hands-on time photographing a variety of macro set-ups, including flowers. I'll be presenting alongside Charles Needle, Jackie Kramer, Harold Ross and Mike. Check out Mike's conference website for more information and to register for this fun learning experience. It's great for all skill levels. I'll be giving a presentation on Creative Flower Photography: Creating Flower Portraits with Artistry and Emotion. I'll have lots of Lensbaby lenses for attendees to try while shooting flowers or other macro set-ups. 

Come join the fun!


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Macro photography Mike Moat's Macro Conference photography conference Mike Moats Lensbaby flower photography Wed, 22 Jan 2020 01:26:44 GMT
A Day At Chicago Botanic Garden – Creative Flower Photography Workshop LotusLotus

A Day at Chicago Botanic Garden with Anne Belmont - Creative Flower Photography Workshop

Join me for a day of learning and fun at Chicago Botanic Garden. These dates have been offered to those on my mailing list and there are only a few spots left. If you are interested in joining me, please email me at [email protected] to reserve a spot. Please indicate which day you are interested in. Each workshop is limited to 6 participants to ensure lots of one-on-one time for learning.

Date: Friday, September 11 OR Monday, September 14 (rain dates: 12th and 15th). You can choose one of the two days. Rather than having one larger workshop, I am dividing it into 2 days with small groups. What I love most about teaching is being able to get to know each of you and spend significant time helping you with the things you want to learn. I think the small group is also important for sharing ideas and for each of you to get to know each other. September is a quieter and hopefully cooler month at CBG - children are back in school and the crowds have lessened. Most of all, I chose this time because it lines up with CBG’s annual Dahlia Show, an event I look forward to each year. Here’s more info on the Dahlia Show. Scroll down to the dates for Central States Dahlia Society Show, September 12 and 13. Imagine a room filled with 100’s of the most perfect and beautiful dahlias! If you plan to come to one of the workshops, come a day early or stay a day later and come to the show. I’ll be there photographing both days and, although I won’t be formally teaching, I’m happy to offer tips for shooting flowers indoors.

What You’ll be Learning:
My instruction will be customized to each participant’s needs and wishes. I will spend time with each of you. As a group I will be encouraging you to slow down and develop the art of seeing to find interesting subjects that will create images with impact and emotion. My goal is always to help others reignite their creative spirit and find joy in the process of shooting. I will encourage you to stay with your subject and explore different ways of shooting it - with different compositions, angles, apertures and lenses. We will explore the topics of composition, light, aperture, using selective focus, controlling backgrounds and using Lensbaby lenses to unleash creativity. I will provide instruction on how to use Lensbaby lenses. Lensbaby will send some loaner lenses for our use that day. I will ask each participant for their camera mount info, as well as what lenses they might be interested in trying. I will also provide some links to articles I have written to help prepare you for the workshop.

I will prepare a one hour online video presentation for you and send it a week or two prior to the workshop to provide you with some helpful info about photographing flowers and sparking your creativity. By doing so beforehand, we will have more time for hands-on shooting.

September 11 or 14 :
7:30 a.m. - Gather at the Visitor’s Center at Chicago Botanic Garden
7:30-11:30 a.m. - Shooting in the various gardens with in-field instruction
11:30 - 12:30 p.m. - Lunch at the Garden Cafe
12:30-1:30 p.m. - Let’s talk about some essential principles we practiced in the field.                                         

1:30 - 5 p.m. Continued shooting and applying principles.
5 p.m. Let’s grab dinner a local restaurant and unwind from our busy day!

Workshop Fee: $300 per person

Payment via PayPal. Invoice will be sent to each participant. Please email me at [email protected] to reserve a spot in the workshop. Cancellation policy: refund given, minus $20 processing fee, up to 60 days before the workshop. 60 days or less before the workshop a refund will be given, minus $20 processing fee, if you or I can fill the spot. No refunds given for no shows.

If you are interested in being on my mailing list for future events, email me at [email protected] and I'll add you to the list. I will post here about other teaching events in the coming week.



[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) creativity Lensbaby macro photography workshop Flower Photography Sat, 18 Jan 2020 01:25:00 GMT
Updates and Recent Articles on the Visual Wilderness Website DahliaDahliaDahlia with the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

            Dahlia, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

Happy fall to everyone! I'm embarrassed to admit I haven't written a blog post since the spring. It was a such a busy spring and summer, full of travel and teaching at so many conferences. I had little time to breathe in between. Most notable was our Out of Longwood Conference at Longwood Gardens in August. I've been working with the Out of Chicago team since it began doing conferences in 2014, and we all agreed that the Longwood conference was our best yet. It was an incredible line-up of instructors and the most engaged group of attendees we've had. The enthusiasm, the creativity and the connections that happened were not to be forgotten. We are busy at work on next year's conferences - Yosemite, Chicago, Chicago Botanic Garden, Moab and Acadia are all in the line-up. I'll be teaching at the Out of Chicago Botanic Garden and the Out of Acadia conferences. Check them all out at More details to come.

Another reason my blog has been less active is that I was busy writing my first e-Book, published in February – Creative Flower Photography: An Illustrated Guide to the Magic of Lensbaby Lenses. You can find it on the Visual Wilderness website. This winter I intend to begin book #2. I'm passionate about teaching others to be more creative and I plan for this book to focus on my principles for creativity as well as a comprehensive guide to flower photography. I can't wait to get started - so many ideas are brewing! 

I have published a number of articles on the Visual Wilderness website this summer. One article is dedicated to the Lensbaby Sol lenses – Creative Flower Photography with the Lensbaby Sol. If you follow me on Instagram @annebelmontphotography it's no secret how much I love photographing with the Sol 45mm. This little lens has stolen my heart and I am continually amazed at the ease of use and the results I am getting with this lens. It brought a spark of creativity back into my work and when I am shooting with this lens I find myself getting into that ever-important dance with the flower I am photographing - that sense of connectedness with my subject and being present in the moment. The lens produces some of the most beautiful backgrounds, blur and bokeh I have ever seen and when I am seeing that through the lens, it's easy to feel so filled with emotion and presence. I strive for this in my work and talk about this as a principle of creativity – the process of photographing our subjects is just as important as the final image! 

A more recent article is on an important topic in flower photography – learning to control backgrounds. This article – How to Create Beautiful Backgrounds in Macro Photography will provide you with many useful tips for working with backgrounds. I think it is one of the most difficult variables when photographing any subject in macro photography.

I'll close with a few of my favorite images from the late spring and summer. Enjoy photographing the beauty of fall, and always feel free to reach out if you need help with any aspect of flower photography. This winter I plan to set up a formal email list, but until I get that up and running, feel free to email me at [email protected] to be added to my existing list. I hope to get information out soon about workshops and conferences for next year. I'm waiting for a very important and exciting wedding date in our family to be set before I can finalize my schedule! 

Tulipa 'Ballerina'Tulipa 'Ballerina'           Ballerina Tulip, Lensbaby Sol 45mm

Nigella 'Miss Jekyll Blue' - Love-in-a-MistNigella 'Miss Jekyll Blue' - Love-in-a-Mist             Nigella 'Miss Jekyll Blue' - Love-in-a-Mist, 180mm macro

Sunrise in a DahliaSunrise in a Dahlia          Dahlia, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

Longwood Gardens LotusLongwood Gardens Lotus          Lotus, Longwood Gardens, Sony 100-400mm

'Teddy Bear' Sunflower'Teddy Bear' Sunflower          'Teddy Bear' Sunflower, Lensbaby Sol 45mm

Unfolding Fern, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm



[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Visual Wilderness Lensbaby Lensbaby Sol 45mm Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Lensbaby Velvet 85mm flower photography macro photography Tue, 22 Oct 2019 18:44:06 GMT
New Article Posted - "Macro Photography: How to Capture Breathtaking Photos of Tulips" Under the TulipUnder the Tulip Spring is finally here to stay and it's my favorite time of year for flower photography. After a long winter, it's exhilarating to be outside witnessing the earth come back to life and capturing that beauty in photographs. Tulips are about to bloom in the midwest and are already in bloom in other parts of the country. I've posted a new article on Visual Wilderness with some tips for capturing tulips in a more impactful and artistic way. Check out the article here.​​​ Get out and enjoy the emergence of spring! 

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography Lensbaby macro photography spring Visual Wilderness Tulips Thu, 18 Apr 2019 22:10:42 GMT
NECCC Photography Conference in Amherst, MA, July 12-14 I'm excited to be presenting this year at the NECCC Photography Conference in Amherst, MA, July 12-14. It's a fantastic line-up of presenters and I'm delighted and honored to be among them. I'll be sponsored by Lensbaby and along with my presentations on Lensbaby and flower photography, I'll be giving hands-on sessions with lots of Lensbaby lenses to try. I'll be presenting a program called "Creative Flower Photography: Unleashing the Creative Spirit Through Lensbaby" and another "Capturing Stunning Images of Some of the Most Beloved Flowers: Tulips, Waterlilies, Dahlias and Orchids." In addition I'll be leading a pre-conference workshop at Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. It's going to be a wonderful weekend of learning and I hope you'll consider attending this wonderful conference.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) NECCC Amherst MA photography conference Lensbaby flower photography macro photography Sun, 24 Mar 2019 23:07:09 GMT
Photographing the Flower Shows in Chicago This has been a particularly long and cold winter in Chicago. By the end of February, most people have had enough and are eagerly counting days until spring arrives. I've heard grumblings that the beloved groundhog, Punxsutanwney Phil, got it all wrong and should jailed for fraud. Typically it doesn't feel like spring until well into April here in our area. For me, the blooming of the crocuses mark the arrival of the flower season, and the tulips follow soon after. Meanwhile, as we patiently wait, we are fortunate to have several flower shows in our area that give us some respite from the cold outdoors and make us feel like spring has arrived. 

Chicago Botanic Garden's Orchid Show, "Into the Tropics," has been going on since mid-February and lasts until March 24. The tropical theme this year makes you feel like you have stepped into a tropical paradise filled with beautiful orchids. It's the perfect place to practice your orchid photography. Orchids are the most difficult of flowers to photograph. Lighting in the exhibit can be challenging and it is hard to find good compositions and clean backgrounds. Chicago Botanic Garden has Tuesday morning tripod hours for photographers; otherwise, you can't use a tripod in the exhibit and this can make capturing these exotic and complex beauties difficult. For some tips on photographing orchids please read my recent article on the Visual Wilderness website.

A few images captured at this year's show:

 Phalaenopsis Orchid, 100mm macro

Phalaenopsis Orchid, 180mm macro

Phalaenopsis Orchids, 100mm macro

The Lincoln Park Conservatory in the heart of Lincoln Park just north of the city, has a wonderful spring flower show that lasts until May 12. It's very creatively done with the addition of some "singing" egg cups in their water features. The exhibit features flowering trees, bushes, spring bulbs, azaleas, camellias, calla lilies, hellebores, and much more. LPC's orchid collection is quite impressive right now, as well.

Cymbidium Orchids, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

HelleboreHellebore Hellebore, Lensbaby Sol 45mm

I have to admit, my favorite show this spring is "Understory: Layers of Light" at Garfield Park Conservatory. This is the most beautiful flower show I've seen – the layers of trees, flowering bushes, tree trunks, moss, ferns, fungus and, of course, an abundance of flowers – is so creatively done. Each time I go I am discovering new things I did not see in previous visits. All the flowers are beautiful, but the collection of ranunculus, also known as Persian Buttercups, really steals the show. The show runs until May 12 and is worth several visits.

Of course, I can't go to Garfield without a visit to the Fern Room and the Desert House, two of my favorite places to photograph year-round. The Agave americana plant in the Desert House has sent up its impressive stalk and it is quickly approaching the glass roof. The grand finale will be the flowering of the stalk, then the plant will begin to die. Watch this fascinating interview about the agave on WTTW's Chicago Tonight, featuring one of my favorite people at Garfield, horticulturist Ray Jorgensen. 

Inside the TulipInside the Tulip Tulip, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

Under the TulipUnder the Tulip Same tulip, different perspective, Lensbaby Sol 45mm

Persian ButtercupPersian Buttercup Ranunculus or Persian Buttercup, Lensbaby Velvet 85mm

Buttercup CurlsButtercup Curls Ranunculus Curves, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

Tiny DancerTiny Dancer Hellebore, Lensbaby Sol 45mm

Enjoy some spring indoors until the real spring arrives outdoors. It won't be long but I am so grateful that our great city of Chicago has so many opportunities for us flower enthusiasts to keep doing what we love to do even when it's snowy and cold outside. Thank you, Chicago Botanic Garden, Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory!  You each are true gems in our city!   

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography Garfield Park Conservatory Lensbaby Sol 45mm Lensbaby Velvet Lincoln Park Conservatory macro photography Orchid Show Spring Flower Show Chicago Chicago Botanic Garden Tue, 12 Mar 2019 02:55:12 GMT
Creative Photography Conference, Southbridge, MA - Discount Code Available I'll be presenting again this year at Hazel Meredith's Creative Photography Conference in Southbridge, MA, May 18-19. I loved this conference last year and I am thrilled to be returning. The conference features wonderful presenters, lots of hands-on learning, small and intimate atmosphere in a beautiful hotel. I'll be presenting about creative flower photography and Lensbaby lenses and I'll have lots of lenses for people to try during several hands-on sessions. Everyone that attended last year loved the conference and Hazel and her husband, Dave, do an excellent job organizing and running it. I have a special discount code Belmont25 for $25 off the $350 registration fee, good until 3/31/19. Hope you'll join us for a wonderful weekend of creativity and learning!


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography hazel meredith lensbaby lensbaby lenses macro photography massachusetts photography conference creative photography conference Sat, 16 Feb 2019 01:47:00 GMT
Creative Flower Photography, An Illustrated Guide to the Magic of Lensbaby Lenses

My new eBook is available for purchase now at Visual Wilderness. Through March 7th you can buy the book at 20% off for $19.95 and it includes a second wonderful book "Details and Macro" by two photographers I greatly admire – Jay and Varina Patel of Visual Wilderness.

What You’ll Learn:

  • Learn about Lensbaby lenses – what makes them special and what they are capable of – along with great tips to help you master them.
  • Discover focusing techniques for creative effect lenses while handholding or using a tripod.
  • How to see flowers in new ways, to look beyond the flower to the more abstract elements and stories within.
  • Develop a solid workflow to capture creative flower photos using light, composition, backgrounds, and using selective focus.
  • Explore creativity to capture artistic flower photos.

…and more.


As a flower photographer, Anne is passionate about Lensbaby lenses and the way they help her create evocative and impactful images in her work. This book serves to provide all the technical information and tips to help you master the use of the most popular Lensbaby lenses for flower photography. It also provides general flower photography tips to inspire you to photograph flowers in a more artistic and creative way.

Lenses covered in Creative Flower Photography eBook include:

  • Lensbaby Velvet 56mm and Velvet 85mm
  • Lensbaby Composer Pro II/Optic Swap System (Sweet optics and Twist optic),
  • Lensbaby Trio 28mm
  • Lensbaby Sol 22mm and 45mm

About Anne Belmont

Anne bought her first Lensbaby lens in 2013 – the original Composer with a Double Glass Optic – in an effort to find a more creative way to photograph flowers. Since then Lensbaby has added many new products to their line-up, and one or another of these lenses are on Anne’s camera most of the time. These lenses help her capture her vision of a flower with a beautiful impressionist quality, a softness and blur not possible with other lenses. As a former art therapist, Anne has a special interest in the creative process and how we can keep creativity alive and well. Lensbaby lenses help unleash that creative spirit, helping you to see and photograph your subjects in a whole new way.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Anne Belmont Lensbaby eBook flower photography macro photography creativity creative flower photography Lensbaby lenses guide to Lensbaby lenses Thu, 14 Feb 2019 12:00:00 GMT
Igniting Creativity Using Lensbaby Lenses - the Velvet 56mm and Velvet 85mm ClematisClematis I enjoy writing articles for the wonderful learning community Visual Wilderness. This month my article talks about my two favorite lenses, the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm and the Velvet 85mm. These lenses have brought so much creativity and joy to my personal photography, and much of my teaching centers around igniting passion in others for Lensbaby lenses and teaching them how to use the lenses. I am putting the finishing touches on an e-book on using Lensbaby for flower and macro photography, with all my tips and tricks for using these lenses, as well as a lot of tips for flower photography in general. Meanwhile, enjoy my article, "Igniting Creativity Using Lensbaby Lenses" on Visual Wilderness and stay tuned for more details about the book!   

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) creativity flower photography Lensbaby Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Lensbaby Velvet 85mm macro photography Visual Wilderness Tue, 22 Jan 2019 22:40:16 GMT
Out of Longwood Photography Conference, August 19-23

I am excited to be an instructor again at the second annual Flower and Garden Photography Conference at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, August 19-23, 2019. Last year we held the conference at the Chicago Botanic Garden and it was a huge success. This year we are taking it to Longwood Gardens, one of the world's premiere gardens - over 1000 acres of outdoor gardens, meadows, woodlands, beautiful fountains and a 4.5 acre conservatory - the perfect place to practice our flower, macro and garden landscape photography skills. Our line-up of instructors includes, me, Bryan Peterson, Tony Sweet, Charles Needle, Alan Shapiro, John Barclay, Don Komarechka, Jackie Kramer, Rad Drew and Monica Royal. 

The conference will be located at the beautiful Mendenhall Inn, a short drive from Longwood Gardens. Each day will include two excursions to Longwood (morning and afternoon), lunch followed by a group presentation, break-out sessions, critiques, and one-on-one sessions. All in-the-field teaching sessions are limited to a maximum of 10 attendees to guarantee that you will get one-on-one help from the instructors. Imagine immersing yourself in flower and garden photography for five days with some of the world's best and most inspirational instructors! 

I will be focusing a lot of my teaching on using Lensbaby lenses and will be doing an intensive Lensbaby Bootcamp. I'll have bunkers of Lensbaby lenses for participants to use on my excursions. Longwood has an amazing dahlia collection so I'm excited to put the Lensbabies to work with all those beautiful dahlias! 

For more information about the conference and to register go to our Out of Longwood website. To save $300 on registration use my special code: BELMONT when you register. This offer is good until February 1st. Please reach out to me at [email protected] if I can answer any questions about the conference. 


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Anne Belmont flower photography garden photography Lensbaby Longwood Gardens macro photography Out of Longwood photography conference Out of Chicago Wed, 16 Jan 2019 17:42:39 GMT
Creative Photography Conference Hazel Meredith has invited me back for her 3rd annual Creative Photography Conference in Southbridge, MA, May 18-19, 2019. I will once again be teaching all things flower photography and Lensbaby, followed by a number of hands-on sessions in which participants can try Lensbaby lenses. I loved presenting at this conference last year. It is small, well-run and lots of fun for participants. The focus is on creativity and that's a topic I love teaching about! Hazel has early bird pricing until November 30, so take advantage of that to sign up for this wonderful conference. An hour from Boston, Southbridge is an interesting town, full of history. The beautiful hotel and conference center was once the home of the American Optical Company and many of the architectural features were preserved in its restoration. It's a great place to spend the weekend immersed in photography and creativity!   

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Creative Photography Conference Southbridge MA Hazel Meredith creativity photography conference Lensbaby Tue, 02 Oct 2018 18:41:07 GMT
Article on Visual Wilderness - Macro Photography: Slow Down to Create Impact and Emotion Dahlia, Longwood GardensDahlia, Longwood Gardens

I am so honored to be a contributing author at Visual Wilderness, to be sharing my ideas among so many incredible photographers and educators. Jay and Varina Patel have created an amazing community for others to learn about so many aspects of landscape and nature photography. I encourage you to subscribe to their newsletter and find out more about this great place to learn. My most recent article, published this week, was probably my favorite thus far to write. It comes from my heart and reflects the way I personally approach my photography and an approach I love to share with those I teach. Please enjoy 'Macro Photography: Slow Down to Create Impact and Emotion."

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Visual Wilderness Jay and Varina Patel photography education macro photography flower photography creativity Sat, 29 Sep 2018 18:50:52 GMT
How to Capture Stunning Waterlily Photos - Post on Visual Wilderness Please enjoy my most recent article on the Visual Wilderness blog: How to Capture Stunning Waterlily Photos.

The waterlilies and lotus flowers have been amazing this summer at Chicago Botanic Garden but I am most excited about leading a workshop at Garfield Park Conservatory this week "In the Water with the Waterlilies." We are going into the water to photograph the aquatic flowers up-close, an amazing opportunity! I am truly honored that GPC is allowing me to hold this workshop. Registration filled in 10 minutes so I didn't even have a chance to put it on my website. I hope to do it again in the future. I will also be speaking at Garfield Park Conservatory on Wednesday, August 8th, 6 p.m., as a part of their 2nd Wednesday Lecture Series. My talk is "Photographing the Botanicals and Flowers at Garfield Park Conservatory." The talk is free but you do need to register via the Eventbrite link. 

Our big Out of Chicago Flower and Garden Photography Conference is being held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, August 26-30, and I am so excited for this amazing event. There are still a few spots left for those interested in totally immersing yourself in flower and garden photography for a week with 10 incredible instructors.

I hope you are out there shooting this summer, capturing the beauty in the world! Let me know if I can help you in your journey. Our craft takes time, patience and persistence; it does not come overnight. Our creativity requires constant nurturing - the quiet time to reflect and let ideas brew and the slowing down to truly observe the world around you.  

'Sunfire' Waterlily'Sunfire' Waterlily

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Visual Wilderness waterlilies lotus flowers flower photography Anne Belmont Garfield Park Conservatory Out of Chicago Wed, 01 Aug 2018 02:33:53 GMT
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!    

[email protected] (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

[email protected] (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.    

[email protected] (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    

[email protected] (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

JoyJoy 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 


[email protected] (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.

[email protected] (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.

[email protected] (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.  

[email protected] (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)

[email protected] (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 photograph. In the Chicago area, we have Orchids by Hausermann in Villa Park, my favorite place to photograph 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 background 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 the 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 photographing 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 photographing 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 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 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 photographing with the backgrounds nature provides, this was a new way of photographing 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 matboard behind the orchids in most orchid exhibits. Save that kind of photographing 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!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) orchids by hausermann chicago botanic garden flower photography hlavacek florist lensbaby lensbaby velvet orchid photography orchid show orchid show 2018 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!




[email protected] (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  

Dahlia GlowDahlia Glow 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.   

[email protected] (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.  

[email protected] (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 Pink SwirlsPink Swirls                                                                    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!

[email protected] (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.

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!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) nangkwag muang prai waterlily summer victoria waterlily pad waterlilies flower photography garfield park conservatory in the water with the waterlilies lotus macro photography 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. 

[email protected] (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

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden dahlias flower photography lens review lensbaby velvet 56mm lensbaby velvet 85mm Fri, 21 Jul 2017 03:10:10 GMT
The New Lensbaby Velvet 85mm Watercolor TulipWatercolor Tulip 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!


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden flower photography lensbaby velvet 85mm macro photography soft focus velvet 56mm velvet 85mm lensbaby 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.

EmbraceEmbrace  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! 


[email protected] (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! 

[email protected] (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
Crabapples in Bloom One of my favorite events at the Chicago Botanic Garden is the week when the scores of crabapples burst into bloom. We are right at the peak of that bloom now. A walk around the Great Basin is a must this time of year. Start at the Lakeside Garden path near the English Walled Garden and enter a canopy of crabapples lining the path. Each year when I see this view, I feel like a young child entering a fairyland. It is a magical sight that fills me with awe.

Lakeside Garden - Crabapples in BloomLakeside Garden - Crabapples in Bloom Crabapple PathCrabapple Path

This year I decided to try my Lensbaby Velvet 56mm to capture the mystical and ethereal feeling the trees evoke. I love the results! Today was quite sunny and the Velvet captured the sparkling flowers as if they were dancing in the sunlight. 

Crabapple Path in SpringCrabapple Path in Spring If you continue on the path to the right toward the Arch Bridge, the canopy of beautiful blossoms continues.

Mystical CrabapplesMystical Crabapples Cross over the bridge to Evening Island and continue around the Lake Basin with beautiful views of the crabapples and their variation in color from white to pink to red. Beautiful views abound at every turn. This is one of my favorite views looking back toward Evening Island at the Serpentine Bridge.  

Crabapples on Evening IslandCrabapples on Evening Island There are other lovely garden views scattered around the Garden, as well.

Quiet Place in the GardenQuiet Place in the Garden Sit and Soak in the BeautySit and Soak in the Beauty Crabapples in Bloom at the GardenCrabapples in Bloom at the Garden Crabapple in Graham Bulb GardenCrabapple in Graham Bulb Garden And, yes, as a macro flower photographer I am always on the lookout for subjects to capture up close. This one was captured with my 180mm macro and look at the gorgeous background that lens creates.

Selkirk CrabappleSelkirk Crabapple And this with the Lensbaby Composer Pro with the Twist optic. What a fun optic the Twist is!

Crabapple Blossoms in SpringCrabapple Blossoms in Spring If you live in the Chicago area, this is the time to visit the Garden. Not only are the crabapples at peak but there are still many beautiful tulips in bloom. I wish we could hold on to this time of year a bit longer - it is so fleeting but, without a doubt, my favorite time of year.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Crabapples spring Chicago Botanic Garden Lakeside Garden Path Great Basin flower photography garden scenes Sat, 06 May 2017 03:55:34 GMT
What's in Bloom Spring is well on its way at the Chicago Botanic Garden! This week the staff has been busy planting all the gardens and pots with spring blooms. Each day new flowers are being added. The daffodils are in bloom, the magnolias are opening, a few early tulips are already in bloom and the rest of the tulips are not far behind. If temps stay warm and we continue to get some sunshine, it looks like many will begin to open next week and, as always, it will be a spectacular display of color. These past few days I have been photographing a small patch of pink tulips in the courtyard between the Sensory Garden and the Enabling Garden. These tulips were transferred there from the production greenhouses already in bloom. I fell in love with their soft, interesting petal variations and lovely leaves, many of them enveloping the buds in a hug.

Graceful CurveGraceful Curve TulipTulip EmbraceEmbrace Tulip StudyTulip Study Tulip with an AttitudeTulip with an Attitude This same type of tulip was planted in an indoor display in Regenstein last week and I enjoyed photographing them there while waiting for more blooms outdoors. These have since been replaced with other tulips and spring blooms.

TulipTulip Tulip TextureTulip Texture TulipTulip Another patch of tulips that I have found blooming are in a raised bed at the south end of the Graham Bulb Garden, a colorful treat for the eyes. In this first image, I was much more interested in the graceful curve of the leaf than the flower itself.

Graceful LineGraceful Line Early TulipEarly Tulip This is just the beginning! In the coming weeks there will be tulips in bloom everywhere. Stay tuned for more updates! Happy spring and happy Easter weekend! 

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Tulips, Chicago Botanic Garden, Spring, flower photography, macro photography, Lensbaby Velvet 56, spring flowers Fri, 14 Apr 2017 19:44:36 GMT
The Arrival of Spring Spring is finally arriving! It has come slowly with fits and starts - some encouraging and much-welcomed days of warmth and sunshine, followed by cold, rain, grey skies and even some significant snow in March. The appearance of the crocuses blanketing the grassy hillside on Evening Island at the Chicago Botanic Garden this past week is a sure sign that we are well on our way. They were in full bloom this past weekend and will likely last through the week. It is always a breathtakingly beautiful sight and a welcome sign that spring has truly begun. I spent two days photographing them this weekend. There is ample space between the clusters of flowers to sit (take a garbage bag to sit on - trust me on this one!) and get low to the ground to photograph them. I use my 100mm macro as well as my Lensbaby lenses to capture these flowers in a variety of ways. When pulled back to include a cluster of flowers, I tend to shoot in a lower aperture to blur the brown grass. When getting in close for a macro shot of the inside of the flower I experiment with a range of apertures and have extension tubes handy if I want to get in extra close.

I will be presenting a program on "The Art of Flower Photography" at the Morton Arboretum Photographic Society on Monday, April 10th at 7 p.m. Guests are welcome. Please visit the MAPS website for more information.

We are still accepting registrations for the Out of Chicago Summer Conference, June 23-25. I will be conducting an all-day shoot at The Chicago Botanic Garden on Friday, a class "Let's Get Creative with Flower Photography" (all about Lensbaby) on Saturday as well as a flower shootout in the afternoon. On Sunday I teach a class "The Art of Flower Photography." Please join us for what is the best photography conference around - loads of fun, learning and hands-on shooting. Use the code "belmont100" to receive $100 off. 

Enjoy some spring crocuses and stay tuned - I'm watching carefully for the emergence of tulips - we are getting close!

'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island Petal DancerPetal Dancer 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island'Remembrance' Dutch Crocuses on Evening Island Crocus in SpringCrocus in Spring

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Crocus, 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus, Chicago Botanic Garden, Evening Island, flower photography, macro photography, Lensbaby, spring, spring blooms Tue, 04 Apr 2017 16:56:13 GMT
The 2017 Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden Sometimes those of us who enjoy photographing the world up-close have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden is truly spectacular this year! One of my favorite views is of the arches filled with Vanda orchids of every color in the palm allée of the Tropical Greenhouse. The Garden really outdid itself with so many of the displays. I'm proud to have my 40 X 60 inch orchid photographs exhibited Krehbiel Gallery once again this year. Come step into a paradise of over 10,000 orchids in the midst of winter.

If you missed my articles on orchid photography last year, both here in my blog and the article I wrote for the Out of Chicago website, I have provided the links below. I hope they will help you get some great photographs in the show this year. My one recommendation I would add for this year's show is to pack a longer focal length lens in your bag. Many orchids are set back or up high, making them difficult to photograph unless you have a longer lens. I carry my 180mm macro and my 70-300mm along with my 100mm macro and all my Lensbaby gear. Yes, my pack gets a bit heavy, but I'd rather be prepared than sorry!

A Look at this Year's Orchid Show at The Chicago Botanic Garden - Out of Chicago, Feb. 2016

Photographing the Orchids at the Orchid Show - Feb 2016 - talks about using a macro ring light with orchids

Enjoy the show and have fun photographing the beautiful and always fascinating orchids!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, 2017 Orchid Show, flower photography, orchids, orchid photography, macro photography, orchid show Fri, 24 Feb 2017 20:27:41 GMT
The Out of Chicago Summer Conference

This June, I'll be teaching at the fourth annual Out of Chicago Conference! I hope you can join me for what will be an amazing experience, with classes, workshops and photowalks in the heart of Downtown Chicago! Save $50 until February 18 when you use the code "EARLYSUMMER" — register now at

On Friday, I'll be leading an all-day workshop with Ben Hutchinson from Lensbaby - "Photographing the Flowers and Landscapes of the Chicago Botanic Garden"

What could be more fun than a day of shooting the flowers and the garden landscapes of a world class garden right here in Chicago - The Chicago Botanic Garden! Anne will guide you to the best places to photograph and help you master the techniques of flower photography. Ben, as our favorite Lensbaby rep, will help you master the use of these creative and fun lenses for both close up and landscape shooting. Bring your macro lenses, a tripod and we’ll have Lensbaby lenses available for you to try if you don’t own them. This workshop will include an online meeting prior to the conference when we’ll talk about flower photography basics and details of the day. Transportation will be provided. 

On Saturday I have a class - "Lets Get Creative with Flower Photography

Learn to see beyond the sharply focused image to the magic of seeing and photographing flowers in a whole new artistic way. This class will focus on how to use aperture and selective focus with both traditional macro lenses and creative lenses to create evocative and beautiful portraits of flowers. We will explore a whole new way of looking at flowers, learning to see and isolate beautiful, interesting and often unnoticed details. Learn about the magic of Lensbaby lenses to create beautiful blur and creative effects in photographing flowers. Anne will offer tips and techniques for using the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm and the Lensbaby optic swap system. 

On Sunday my class is "The Art of Flower Photography"

This presentation will explore how to create flower images with impact and emotion. We will discuss the concept of learning to see flowers differently, to find the beauty in the small, often unnoticed details - the patterns, textures and unique personality each flower presents. We will explore the importance of good light, compositional ideas and how to deal with difficult backgrounds. Most importantly we’ll look at aperture to create both selective focus images as well as sharply focused images, helping you to create your own unique style of seeing and capturing flowers. Learn to see beyond the obvious, to develop the ability to see and photograph flowers more artistically.

For more info about our fantastic weekend full of fun, please visit Hope to see you all there!


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Out of Chicago, photography conference, flower photography, Chicago Botanic Garden, Anne Belmont, Lensbaby Thu, 26 Jan 2017 03:45:21 GMT
Macro Photo Conference, October 2017 in Cleveland Pretty in Pink RosePretty in Pink I am honored to be one of seven speakers at Mike Moats fourth annual Macro Photo Conference. This year it is being held in Cleveland in October, 2017. I will be presenting alongside some great photographers, including Mike Moats, Charles Needle, John Gerlack, Jamie Konarski Davidson and Varina Patel. My program: "The Art of Flower Photography in a Botanical Garden." Here's what Mike writes about the conference:

Macro Photo Conference 2017

by Mike Moats

Fourth Annual Macro Photo Conference 2017

This is a unique annual photo conference dedicated to macro photography. I’ve always wanted to design a program where professional photographers could come together and teach their skills in macro photography and post processing techniques to those who want to learn, and advance their macro photography to the next level.

This Macro Photo Conference will have plenty of how-to lectures and five hours of photographing with varying subject matter. The speakers will be available to help participants with composing subjects and technical aspects. So you need to bring your camera, macro lens, and tripod.
Speakers will have their books available, and will be happy to sign them for you.
Leading New England photo retailer Hunt’s Photo will be there selling lots of photo products. Tamron will have a tech rep on hand with lenses available for you to try out.
There will be a limit of 100 participants, and it should sell out quick. Last year we had participants from 23 different states.
Crowne Plaza – 7230 Engle Road, Middleburg Heights, Ohio 44130
(near Cleveland)
Hotel Front Desk (440) 243-4040
Dates: October 28th and 29th 2017
Times: Saturday 8:00am to 6pm – Sunday 8:00am – 3pm
Cost: $199

To learn more about the programs and register, go to Mike's website. Hope to see you all in Cleveland!


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Mike Moats, Macro Photography Conference, macro photography, Anne Belmont, Charles Needle, John Gerlach, Jamie Konarski Davidson, Varina Patel, The Art of Flower Photography in a Botanical Garden Wed, 04 Jan 2017 02:36:53 GMT
Out of Chicago Winter Conference - February 18th I don't know about you but it's only December and I'm already experiencing cabin fever. It's been really cold here in Chicago. The Out of Chicago team has been busy organizing our second annual Winter Conference to be held at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, IL. Easy drive, easy parking - warm inside! We have an awesome lineup of presenters. Check out the conference and all our wonderful instructors and classes at

I'll be presenting a program on "Capturing the Beauty of Flowers with Selective Focus and the Creative Magic of Lensbaby Lenses" - "Learn to see beyond the sharply focused image to the magic of seeing and photographing flowers in a whole new artistic way. This class will focus on how to use aperture and selective focus with both traditional macro lenses and creative lenses to create evocative and beautiful portraits of flowers. We will explore a whole new way of looking at flowers, learning to see and isolate beautiful, interesting and often unnoticed details. Learn about the magic of Lensbaby lenses to create beautiful blur and creative effects in photographing flowers. Anne will offer tips and techniques for using the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm, The Twist and the Lensbaby optic swap system."

A hands-on component has been added this year and this is going to be so much fun! Each instructor is leading their own session at the shootout. You’ll get a chance to shoot with each one of us during the Winter Shootout. Mine, you might have guessed, will be shooting flowers, and I'll have a variety of Lensbaby lenses there for you to try. Just bring you camera, a tripod and any macro lenses you own. We can practice some of the skills you learn in my class. 

We'll end the evening with an inspirational talk by Mike Moats, followed by a fun social gathering. Join the instructors, attendees and Out of Chicago staff for a post-conference party at Bill’s Pizza, close to the conference center. We did this last year and everyone loved the chance to socialize and share ideas, eat delicious pizza and perhaps a beer or glass of wine! I hope you'll join us for a day of learning and fun!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Out of Chicago Winter Conference, Out of Chicago, photography conference, Anne Belmont, Lensbaby, flower photography Sat, 17 Dec 2016 23:53:33 GMT
Having Fun with Some Indoor Shooting with my Lensbabies I get very restless if I don't shoot flowers and botanical subjects almost every day. During the spring, summer and fall this is no problem. I head to the Chicago Botanic Garden, a mere 15 minutes from my home, and I have endless subjects to keep me happy. In winter it's a bit more challenging to find subjects. The three greenhouses at CBG are a place I often head for shooting tropical flowers, plants and desert succulents indoors. We are also lucky to have two amazing conservatories in the Chicago area - Lincoln Park Conservatory and Garfield Park Conservatory, both are within an hour of my home. Both conservatories have holiday flower shows and wonderful collections of plants and flowers to keep me happy throughout the cold Chicago winter. I also enjoy shooting orchids at various flower shops and orchid production houses in the area. I'll be talking about all these winter shooting opportunities over the next few months. In the Chicago area winter lasts from November through March, so that's a lot of months of indoor shooting.

Often I simply bring flowers home to photograph or enjoy photographing my own orchid collection. Last week I set up a little project of shooting an orchid I brought home on the plane from a Macro Shoot-Out I did with fellow macro photographer Mike Moats at the Out of New York Conference in October. I bought a variety of beautiful flowers from a lovely little flower shop in mid-town Manhattan. It wasn't practical to bring the other flowers home but I was determined to get that sweet orchid home safely because I knew it would continue to bloom for months. I carried it in my bag and it survived the trip in perfect condition. I have it on my kitchen window sill and have enjoyed watching it open fully and evolve. Orchid blooms can last a long time!

I shot the orchid in the natural light of my kitchen using every Lensbaby lens I own. I wanted to compare the results of each of the lenses shot at different apertures. I used a creamy beige-colored background I printed and mounted on a large board, placing it about a foot behind the orchid. I used my tripod, which I generally don't use when shooting with my Lensbabies, but it was actually simpler and more effective this way with my set up and the more limited light indoors. I also wanted to use Live View to zoom in and accurately focus on a part of the orchid. When I teach about using Lensbaby lenses the number one issue people seem to have is getting accurate focus on the part of the flower they want to draw the eye to. The Lensbaby lenses are all manual focus so it can be a bit challenging at first to master the focus. If you are having a problem, get on your tripod and focus through Live View. With practice, you will be get better and be able to focus more effectively off the tripod, especially when you have ample light. The tripod (and believe me, I have a love/hate relationship with tripods) really does help you slow down, compose carefully and get more keepers.

Here a few of the results of that shoot:

Lensbaby Composer Pro with Twist optic, 8 mm macro converter, f/2.8. Notice the sweet spot of focus is on the center orchid and the resulting beautiful twisty blur around the edges. The blurred effect of this lens is even more pronounced when working further back. It's a sharp lens in that sweet spot!

Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids Composer Pro with Sweet 50 Optic, 8 mm macro converter, f/5.6. Notice how much more is in focus at that aperture. If you want blur, stay in those lower apertures. Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids

Nice and close with the Velvet 56mm, f/4, (the Velvet focuses within 5 inches of your subject). f/4 gives me the focus I want but maintains that beautiful ethereal blur in the background. Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids

Composer Pro with Soft Focus Optic, 16mm macro converter, f/4. The soft focus optic is no longer available for sale but I found this one on ebay. Love the softness of this optic! Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids Velvet 56mm, f/2 - just a hint of focus on the middle flower and that characteristic dreamy blur. Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids These are just a brief sampling of the 100+ images I experimented with. An afternoon with one orchid plant, all my Lensbabies = lots of fun and creative experimentation. Challenge yourself with a simple project to help you grow. This is what keeps photography fun! I'll be teaching a class about selective focus and the magic of Lensbaby lenses at the Out of Chicago Winter Conference, February 18th, and we will have hands-on time to play with a variety of Lensbabies the people at Lensbaby are providing for us. Maybe I'll bring this orchid, along with a lot of other beautiful flowers to shoot. Registration is already open to email subscribers to and will open to the public in a few days. Watch here for more information! The folks at Lensbaby approached me this summer about partnering with them to spread the word about these wonderful, fun and creative lenses and, of course, I said YES!!! 

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Orchid photography, Lensbaby, Lensbaby Velvet, Lensbaby Composer Pro, Sweet 50 Optic, Twist Optic, Soft Focus Optic, macro converters, Out of Chicago, flower photography Sat, 10 Dec 2016 03:41:51 GMT
The Magic of Lensbaby I've just opened a gallery on my website called The Magic of Lensbaby. Given my great love of Lensbaby lenses - lenses that have become a bigger and bigger part of my flower photography - I wanted to have a place where I could showcase those images.

'Julia' Coneflower'Julia' Coneflower I started with Lensbaby about 3 1/2 years ago. At that time I was moving full speed ahead into developing a whole new way of looking at and photographing flowers. I started flower photography many years ago with the idea that everything in my portraits of flowers needed to be in sharp focus. There is nothing wrong with this approach and I still employ it today when I want to emphasize detail in flowers. Yet, during this time I felt stuck creatively. I felt a deep longing to grow, change and try new ways of shooting - to be more creative and free in my work. In the spring of 2013, I challenged myself with a project to shoot everything with selective focus. Most often, I chose to shoot at f 2.8, focusing on a curving line of a flower, a petal, a drop of dew to draw the eye to one particular part of the flower. It was the beginning of seeing flowers more abstractly. During that time I was experimenting with the Lensbaby Composer but still using my traditional macro lenses for most of my photography. It wasn't until the introduction of the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm in the spring of 2015 that I fell completely in love with Lensbaby. That lens had me smitten from the first image I took.

Dahlia GlowDahlia Glow 'Pillow Talk' Tulip'Pillow Talk' Tulip Lensbaby lenses are the perfect companion for this kind of creative, more abstract way of shooting. They have helped me to continue to grow as a flower photographer. Of the Lensbaby lenses I own, the Velvet 56mm remains my favorite because of the unmistakable ethereal glow it creates at the lower apertures.  Nonetheless, the Composer Pro with the variety of optics I own, has taken a commanding position in my more recent work. Since macro photography is my passion, the Velvet 56mm, which focuses as close as 5 inches, and the Composer Pro with the macro converters and various optics allow me to work up-close with my subjects and create the beautiful effects these lenses are famous for.

Dahlia AbstractDahlia Abstract DahliaDahlia Although flowers are my favorite subjects, I often pull out my Lensbaby lenses when photographing other botanical subjects, like this unfurling fern.

EmergenceEmergence     Or succulents, like this Desert Cabbage and the tiny flowers of the Red Velvet Echeveria. Desert CabbageDesert Cabbage Red Velvet EcheveriaRed Velvet Echeveria The Twist 60mm is my most recent purchase from Lensbaby and what a fun lens it is! It's the perfect lens for capturing the beauty of fall.

Fall UnfoldingFall Unfolding Birches AglowBirches Aglow I will be focusing more on teaching about using Lensbabies in the 2017 Out of Chicago Conferences, so watch for more details soon. Meanwhile, if you are interested in trying Lensbaby lenses, my friend Gary Farber with Hunt's Photo and Video emailed me this morning that they are having a sale on all Lensbaby products. Check it out here at Hunt's or email Gary at [email protected]. Hmmmmm! What could I add to my collection? The holidays are coming, you know!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lensbaby Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Lensbaby Composer Pro Lensbaby Twist soft focus flower photography Out of Chicago Sun, 06 Nov 2016 02:19:22 GMT
Out of New York Photography Conference One week from today I'll be heading to New York City for what promises to be an amazing weekend of photography! It's not too late to register for this conference and you can get $100 off by using my special code: BELMONT100. I will be presenting my program "Flower Photography: The Art of Seeing and Capturing the Beauty of Flowers" on Saturday, 9:00-10:30 a.m., as well as doing a "Macro-Shoot Out" with fellow macro photographer, Mike Moats, Saturday 5:45-7:15 p.m. Mike and I will have a wide variety of subjects to photograph. I will have flowers with a variety of backgrounds and lighting to set up beautiful macro compositions.

The whole weekend is jam-packed with classes, photowalks and workshops covering many genres of photography. We will kick off the conference on Thursday night with a cruise around Manhattan at sunset, photographing the best views of the skyline and New York bridges before heading to the Statue of Liberty for sunset. Join us for that fun event and a weekend of great learning! Learn more about the details of the conference, where to stay, and register at

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Out of New York Photography Conference, Out of Chicago, photography conference, macro photography, Mike Moats, Anne Belmont, New York City Thu, 06 Oct 2016 19:07:21 GMT
Regenstein Learning Campus Last week I was treated to an early tour of the brand new Regenstein Learning Campus at The Chicago Botanic Garden. The opening celebration for the campus is Saturday and Sunday, September 10 - 11, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drop in, take a tour and learn about all the wonderful things the new campus has to offer.

The indoor classrooms are amazing and will house many of the 1,500 classes offered by the Garden. I was particularly captivated by the preschool classroom I visited, so much so that I totally forgot to take a photo of the space! Go see for yourself what a wonderful program the Nature Preschool offers - a beautiful classroom full of thoughtfully-chosen toys to stimulate a child's learning and senses as well as a beautiful outdoor space to extend learning outdoors. Having been an early childhood educator for many years, I am delighted to see a nature-based program in our area. I would have jumped at the chance to send my own children there if the program had existed when they were little. More than ever it is important to instill in children a life-long love of nature and respect for the natural world. I worry that children today don't get enough time in nature, time to wonder and explore. The Garden has provided a perfect place for this to happen and I applaud them for their wonderful and varied programs for children.

The outdoor spaces will delight both children and adults alike. The rolling hills invite children of all ages to run and roll, the "runnel" water feature begs you take off your shoes and splash through the water, and the large hollow trees provide climbing and hiding spaces for children to stretch their muscles or quietly ponder the beauty of nature. Beautiful gardens and plantings are scattered throughout the campus. 

  I was very excited to see where the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit will be relocated next year. It has a perfect space adjacent to the building. Of course, it is a dirt pad right now but by next May the mesh enclosure, full of butterflies and beautiful plantings, will be all ready to open for it's 6th year.

So, stop in next weekend and see the wonderful new addition to the 385 acres of the beloved Garden. Check out the wonderful learning opportunities for all ages and, as the Garden says, begin to "Grow Your Life Story." Bravo to CBG!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Regenstein Learning Campus, Chicago Botanic Garden, Nature Preschool, Butterflies and Blooms, #GrowYourLifeStory Fri, 02 Sep 2016 20:39:04 GMT
Photographing Flowers with Stories to Tell Tender TouchTender Touch Today my article "Photographing Flowers with Stories to Tell" is featured on the Out of Chicago website. Be sure to check out the Out of New York Conference website where I'll be presenting my program "Flower Photography: The Art of Seeing and Capturing the Beauty of Flowers." I will also be doing a macro shoot-out with fellow macro photographer Mike Moats at the conference center. Come join us to photograph all sorts of things up-close, including flowers, of course! The Out of New York Conference, October 14-16, features 30 incredibly talented photographers presenting a variety of programs, workshops and photowalks in street photographey, architectural photography, portrait photography, landscape and travel photography - just about anything your heart desires. We'll be out on the streets of New York shooting, not just in the conference center, and that's why we are called the "shootingest" photography conference on earth. Come join us for what promises to be another incredible conference put on by the Out of Chicago team.   

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) flower photography storytelling out of chicago out of new york anne belmont Tue, 30 Aug 2016 22:38:44 GMT
Dahlias - A Summer Favorite Each summer I look forward to capturing the beauty of one of my favorite flowers - dahlias. Full of color, pattern and personality, dahlias are fun to photograph in a variety of ways. They have a long growing season, from early June until the first hard frost of the late fall. The dahlias at the Chicago Botanic Garden have been a bit more limited this year with the temporary closing of the Graham Bulb Garden for path renovation. The new brick path will be worth the wait but I certainly missed the many dahlias that are normally planted in this garden in the summer, not to mention access to the aquatic bulb garden where water lilies and lotuses are abundant. This is always my favorite area to photograph dahlias, as they grow near the path and are easy to get right up close to.  Despite the temporary closing of the Bulb Garden, there are beautiful dahlias in the Circle Garden, the Crescent Garden, the English Walled Garden and the Enabling Garden to keep one busy with subjects to photograph. In addition, I always look forward to the Central States Dahlia Society Show. This year the show is on September 17-18 and is located in Regenstein Center. It will showcase hundreds of perfect dahlia blooms, beautiful to photograph despite being indoors with less than ideal lighting (prepare to raise your ISO and shoot at lower apertures due to the lighting; no tripods allowed in the tight, crowded space - this show draws a crowd). If you are a Lensbaby lover like I am, the dahlia show is the perfect place to shoot wide open with a Lensbaby lens. 

Hands down, my favorite dahlia this summer was a variety called 'Sweet Dreams,' surrounding the fountain in the Circle Garden. The title itself so perfectly suited this soft pink dreamy beauty and begged for a softer focus portrait. The Lensbaby Velvet 56mm was the perfect lens to capture these beauties. 

'Sweet Dreams' Dahlia'Sweet Dreams' Dahlia 'Sweet Dreams' Dahlia'Sweet Dreams' Dahlia 'Sweet Dreams' Dahlia'Sweet Dreams' Dahlia Another favorite dahlia in the Circle Garden was the spunky and colorful 'Half Pint.' 

'Half Pint' Dahlia'Half Pint' Dahlia Photographing dahlias early in the morning after they have been watered or after a rain is definitely a bonus.

'Half Pint' Dahlia'Half Pint' Dahlia Dahlia with Water DropletsDahlia with Water Droplets Also in the Circle Garden is this tiny treasure called 'Cherish' Dahlia, photographed with the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm. This dahlia is only about 2-3 inches in diameter. I fell in love with the patterns, colors and subtle lines of this dahlia.  'Cherish' Dahlia'Cherish' Dahlia Dahlias are perfect flowers to photograph from many different angles - work that subject! The repeating patterns formed by the petals being beautiful subjects in themselves.

'Cherish' Dahlia'Cherish' Dahlia Lastly, another dahlia that captivated me was in the Enabling Garden - the 'Alauna Clair-Obscur.' With its wild and ruffled petals it appeared to be dancing and twirling.

'Alauna Clair-Obscur' Dahlia'Alauna Clair-Obscur' Dahlia I'll be photographing the dahlias throughout the fall up until that first hard freeze - a good two months more of beautiful flowers to capture. It's always a sad day for us flower photographers when the last flowers fade after that frost and I'm always particularly sad to see the dahlias do their last dance. They delight us and dance for us all summer long - such captivating and beautiful flowers!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Dahlias, flower photography, macro photography, soft focus, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm, Sweet Dreams Dahlia, Half Pint Dahlia, Cherish Dahlia, Alauna Clair-Obscur Dahlia Sun, 21 Aug 2016 02:31:19 GMT
Butterflies and Blooms For the past five summers I have made weekly visits to the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden to help document the butterfly collection in the exhibit. It is a morning each week I look forward to and greatly enjoy. I photograph as Patrick, the exhibit manager, tends to the butterflies and gets the exhibit ready to open and the horticulturists, Kay and Linda, work to keep the beautiful flower and plant collection in tip-top shape. With a collection of over 300 images of butterflies from previous years, it is challenging to keep working toward getting better and different shots of the butterflies. Some of the shots I capture are purely documentary in style, but I strive to find the more artistic and creative shots, as well. Those are always the icing on the cake for me. Butterflies are not easy to photograph, particularly when the they are more active and the light is challenging. I always hope for cooler overcast conditions so the light is even and subdued and the butterflies quiet and resting while warming their wings. I do all my butterfly photography hand-held and most with my 100mm macro lens. A tripod is too cumbersome for the exhibit space while the horticulturists are working (and is not allowed during visitor hours) and I have to be fast on my feet and quick to respond. Using a 100mm macro means that I am working close to the butterfly, so being quiet and gentle in my approach is important if I don't want to scare a butterfly off. Composing and determining an aperture that will get the butterfly and the flower it is perched on in focus but provide a pleasing background requires quick thinking about camera settings. All the while, I have to keep my eye on my shutter speed and ISO because I am hand-holding. Two years ago I came up with a list of 10 tips for photographing butterflies. Read about it in this post.

This year the butterflies in the exhibit have been varied and plentiful. The weather has been perfect for a successful and lush exhibit. If you enjoy butterfly photography and beautiful flower displays, a visit to the exhibit is a must.

                                                           Gulf Fritillary Butterfly 

Gulf FritillaryGulf Fritillary

          Julia Longwing Butterfly ​ Julia LongwingJulia Longwing           Paper Kite Butterfly Paper Kite ButterflyPaper Kite Butterfly

          Backlit Paper Kite Butterfly Close-up

Paper Kite ButterflyPaper Kite Butterfly           Great Mormon Butterfly Great Yellow MormonGreat Yellow Mormon           Blue Clipper Close-Up Blue Clipper Close-UpBlue Clipper Close-Up In the following shots, I was experimenting with my Yongnuo Macro Ring Light. It is helpful in providing nice even light and darkening backgrounds. The ring light ensures sharp shots hand-held while keeping my ISO low.  

                                                             Great Orange Tip Butterfly

Great Orange TipGreat Orange Tip          Orchard Swallowtail Butterfly

Orchard SwallowtailOrchard Swallowtail                                                             Owl Butterfly Owl ButterflyOwl Butterfly


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Gulf Fritillary Julia Longwing Owl butterfly Great Mormon Paper Kite Blue Clipper butterfly photography Yongnuo Macro Ring Light Chicago Botanic Garden Butterflies and Blooms Sun, 31 Jul 2016 20:00:29 GMT
Photofocus Lightroom Hangout Dancing ReflectionDancing Reflection Please join me with Photofocus host Levi Sim on Monday, July 18th for a Google+ live Lightroom Hangout "Fine Art Flowers with Anne Belmont." We kick off at 12:00 p.m. Eastern, 11:00 a.m. Central, 9 a.m. Pacific to talk about flower photography and how I process my images. To learn more about the hangout and register, go to the Photofocus page. If you can't join us live, the hangout will be available on the Photofocus website to view at your leisure. Hope to see you online!  


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Photofocus, Lightroom Hangout, Anne Belmont, Flower Photography, Fine Art Flowers Thu, 14 Jul 2016 22:23:59 GMT
Summer in Full Bloom For many the summer might seem to be half over, but for me it feels like it has just begun. The first part of the summer was jam-packed with excitement and I am only now able to relax and have a little "vacation" time at home, which basically means catching up on the boat-load of images I've shot, shooting lots more, and posting a few blog posts about what's blooming at the Chicago Botanic Garden - lots!

June began with a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine with the Out of Chicago team to scout locations for an upcoming conference scheduled for October, 2017. Be watching for details on that exciting event - it will be awesome, I promise! What a gorgeous part of the country! We shot sunrise to sunset and even stars late at night - oh my, the stars were incredible!  Needless to say, not much sleep happened during that week, but lots of pictures and memories were made and a few lobster rolls consumed. The landscapes were spectacular but, of course, as a flower person, I was mesmerized by the endless field of lupines. Can't help myself!

Lupines of AcadiaLupines of Acadia

Then on to the Out of Chicago Summer Conference in Chicago at the end of June - an amazing success! 40+ presenters and 400 attendees, yet what makes this conference so amazing is the intimacy, the friendly and fun way the instructors and attendees interact and learn. It is truly the best conference around and you will hear many attendees and some pretty big-name presenters say the same thing. From Rick Sammon's inspirational opening talk to Scott Bourne's emotional and passionate closing talk and everything in between, it was an incredible experience. This is what Scott Bourne had this to say about his experience at Out of Chicago in a follow-up blog post on Photofocus. Pretty awesome, right?! We love our presenters!  I love being a part of the team and this year I was a presenter, as well. There is not much that tops sharing my passion for flower photography with others. I'll be presenting my "Macro Flower Photography: The Art of Seeing and Capturing the Beauty of Flowers" at the Out of New York Conference, October 14-16th. If you are interested in registering, the conference website is here.

  So, now I'm back to shooting at my beloved Chicago Botanic Garden after this busy start to the summer. I returned from a family trip to Boston a few days ago to find the Garden had exploded with blooms. The water lilies are gorgeous right now, which is what I'll post about right now, but all areas of the Garden are lush and full of spectacular subjects, including the butterflies in Butterflies and Blooms.

So a little about the water lilies. This year the water lilies are limited to the Heritage Garden. Normally there are many water lilies blooming in the Graham Bulb Garden aquatic area but this area is closed for the summer while they install new brick paths within that garden. Not to worry, the water lilies in the Heritage Garden have been abundant and beautiful and will provide plenty of subjects to photograph.

Remember a few tips while photographing water lilies:

  • Many of the water lilies don't fully open until mid-morning and they close mid-afternoon when light can still be harsh and contrasty. I only photograph water lilies on bright overcast days. This gives beautiful even light, intense color and nice reflections in the water. If your only choice is to shoot on a bright sunny day, try using a polarizer. It's best to wait for overcast light but a polarizer will help reduce glare on the lily pads, water and flowers. You may also be able to use a diffuser to soften the light on flowers that are closer to the edge.   
  • Take a zoom lens to be able to get in close. Many of the water lilies are set farther away in the aquatic pools so a macro lens will not be of much help unless you have a 180mm, and often even my 180mm doesn't have enough reach. I shoot water lilies almost exclusively with a 70-300mm lens, allowing me to get in close at the 300mm range. By moving in close, you simplify your composition, eliminating distracting details and creating an image with more impact and emotion. 
  • When composing a water lily, try to include a lily pad to anchor the flower and add visual interest. The lily pads are full of patterns and color and add a nice element to your composition. Also, when pulling back to include the whole flower, try to include the reflection of the flower in the water.
  • Experiment with different apertures, compositions and different angles, both high and low. Sometimes shooting from a slightly different angle will help darken the water and eliminate distractions in the water.
  • Although the horticulturists keep the displays of aquatic plants clean and pristine, occasionally you will have to clone out small leaves or debris floating in the water during your post processing.
  • The aquatic areas are full of dragonflies, damselflies and bees, so catching one in your composition is always a bonus.
  • There are always plenty of water lilies to capture but capturing a lotus in bloom requires some careful watching and timing. The lotuses are few and far between in blooms and once they bloom, they are only fresh-looking for about a day. Keep an eye on those buds and learn to predict when they will open!

Here are a few of the waterlilies (and even a 'Red Russian' lotus) I've captured this week.

'Red Russian' Lotus'Red Russian' Lotus WaterlilyWaterlily WaterlilyWaterlily WaterlilyWaterlily Waterlily with ReflectionWaterlily with Reflection 'Russian Red' Lotus'Russian Red' Lotus More posts about other blooms as well as the butterflies to come! it's a wonderful time to visit CBG!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) acadia national park flower photography lotuses lupines out of chicago out of new york photography conference waterlilies Sat, 09 Jul 2016 20:14:09 GMT
Spring Landscapes of the Chicago Botanic Garden Anyone who knows me knows I'm passionate about capturing the world up-close, particularly flowers. You probably figured that out if you spent even five minutes on my website. Occasionally, however, I am overcome with the beauty of the landscapes at the Chicago Botanic Garden and I can't help myself. I have to capture the magic and make sure to pack my wide angle lens in my camera bag. This time in spring is one such time. The week when the hundreds of crabapples circling the Great Basin come into bloom in shades of pink, red and white is one of the most magical of weeks at the Garden. Walking through the entire Garden, especially circling the Great Basin brings magnificent views upon every turn.

The most magical view for me is the Lakeside Garden path; the arching crabapples make me feel like I have entered a magical fairyland. I always try to imagine how I would have loved it as a child.

Lakeside Garden - Crabapples in BloomLakeside Garden - Crabapples in Bloom This pot of glowing orange azeleas among the colorful crabapples is seen from the Enabling Garden terrace. This was one of my favorite views this past week. 

Azeleas Among the CrabapplesAzeleas Among the Crabapples What a beautiful place to sit and soak up the beauty of the Garden in spring! The smell is divine!

Sit and Soak in the BeautySit and Soak in the Beauty The tulips have since faded but this was the view of the Crescent Garden in previous weeks. How quickly spring has progressed. I can't believe there are only a few late-blooming tulip varieties left.

Crescent Garden in SpringCrescent Garden in Spring   A walk to the Japanese Gardens is a must. The azaleas are in bloom right now and they are always a beautiful sight.

Azaleas in the Japanese GardenAzaleas in the Japanese Garden Another beautiful view with one of my favorite crabapples is in the Bulb Garden. It reminds me of a tree I often climbed in as a child, daydreaming for hours at a time and even bringing my lunch there and imaging it was my home, my kingdom. When it was fully leafed out no one could see me in the tree so I imaged it my secret hiding place. Of course, I'm sure the fact that my bicycle was on the ground beneath the tree gave my secret away. My love of nature has deep roots in my childhood, growing up in a small town surrounded by beautiful natural places to explore. I treasure that I had a lot of unstructured time to explore the world around me. I worry that children today aren't given enough time to daydream, to explore, to create. We all need to slow down and nurture those moments. 

Crabapple in Graham Bulb GardenCrabapple in Graham Bulb Garden This is just a small sampling of the many beautiful views at the Garden in May. Soak it in because in a couple weeks the spring gardens will be pulled out to make way for the summer gardens. And don't forget that Butterflies and Blooms opens on May 28th. I'm excited to be back photographing the butterflies!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Spring, Chicago Botanic Garden, crabapple trees, spring flowering trees, azeleas, garden photography, garden landscapes Wed, 18 May 2016 02:31:05 GMT
The Tulips of Holland Holland, Michigan, that is! Believe me, it's on my bucket list to visit The Netherlands during tulip season, but for now, Holland, Michigan was a happy and not-too-distant get-away! My friend Lara Joy and I drove to Michigan on Saturday in pouring rain (thank you, Lara Joy for your expert driving) and met our friend, Bryan, who had organized a photowalk in Holland for May 1st with the West Michigan Photographers Alliance. The Holland Tulip Festival runs May 7-14 but we planned the photowalk the weekend before to avoid the usual crowds. Luckily, the tulips were fully in bloom.

Sunday morning dawned and it was still raining, but miraculously the rain stopped just in time for our walk. It was a cold, cloudy day but as a tulip enthusiast, I was more absorbed in what I was photographing than paying attention to the cold. We walked among various parks in Holland, filled with beautiful tulips in full bloom and covered with raindrops. Holland is a quaint town with a beautiful historic district. I'd like to go back and explore the town more. There were tulips everywhere - lining the streets, in the medians, in the parks, in people's yards. After a couple of hours of photographing in town we headed to Veldheer, a fabulous tulip farm a few miles away. Oh my! I was in my happy place, surrounded by tulips of every variety and color in every direction you look - fields and fields of them, and oddly enough, a field of bison, too! It was a bit overwhelming to know where to start. We spent about two hours roaming from tulip bed to tulip bed, kneeling down to shoot one perfect tulip after another. Two hours was not enough; I could easily spend a whole day, two days at this place. For the $10 admission into the gardens, it was well-worth the price. The gift shop was fun to visit, too - beautiful delftware pottery and wooden shoes made and sold there. Below are a number of my raindrop-covered images from the day. Many more to process!

May I Have This Dance?May I Have This Dance? Tulip with RaindropTulip with Raindrop Catching the RaindropsCatching the Raindrops TulipTulip Tulip after the RainTulip after the Rain     TulipTulip TulipTulip TulipTulip

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) tulip festival holland michigan tulips veldheer raindrops on tulips spring flower photography macro photography Thu, 05 May 2016 20:01:08 GMT
Tips on Photographing Tulips The blooming of tulips always means that spring is firmly here and our long, cold winter is behind us. Spring is my favorite time to photograph. I love watching and capturing the re-emergence of life and color to our world and the exhilarating feeling of being outdoors again. The tulips at the Chicago Botanic Garden and in our area are rapidly opening, so the next couple of weeks are the prime time to photograph them.

'Early Harvest' Tulip'Early Harvest' Tulip

When I photograph tulips I carry a variety of lenses to experiment with. Although my emphasis and true love lies with shooting the world up-close with my macro lenses, I never want to miss the opportunity to capture a few shots of the gorgeous beds of tulips using a wide angle lens.

Tulips in the Circle GardenTulips in the Circle Garden

I then move to photographing tulips up-close with either my 100mm, 180mm and my various Lensbaby lenses, including the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm, the Composer Pro with Sweet 50, Sweet 35 or Edge 80 optics and macro converters. The Lensbaby lenses are wonderful for capturing softer, more ethereal images of tulips.

     Lensbaby Velvet 56mm

'Pillow Talk' Tulip'Pillow Talk' Tulip Pink PetalsPink Petals I like to photograph tulips and all flowers in the early morning, late afternoon or on overcast days when the light is more subdued. Bright mid-day sunlight is unflattering to flowers, creating burned-out highlights and hard shadows. When light is less than perfect or your only option is to shoot mid-day, a diffuser can soften harsh light. Backlighting tulips in strong light, however, provides the one exception to this rule.  Because of their strong shape and color and their translucent petals, you can create beautiful effects by positioning yourself so the tulips are backlit, causing them to glow.

Sunlit TulipSunlit Tulip

When photographing tulips up-close with a macro lens, I like to experiment with a variety of approaches.  First, get down close to the ground and examine the tulips.  Even though tulips in a bed all look similar at a distance, up close you will discover that each tulip has its own personality, some with interesting curves, lines, textures or variations. If you are lucky you might find a tulip with an interesting twist or curl to the leaf, so be sure to include that or make that the subject of your portrait. I focus on capturing those interesting details and bringing them into focus, moving in close and shooting at an aperture high enough to get everything important in focus.  After a rain or an early morning watering is a wonderful time to capture tulips with water droplets. Using a tripod for shots like this is helpful, but not always necessary if you have a steady hand.

Tulip with RaindropsTulip with Raindrops

Tulip with an AttitudeTulip with an Attitude Experiment with different points of view and always be aware of your background, being careful to eliminate distracting elements. Sometimes moving a fraction of an inch will create a more pleasing background.  Many photographers stand over the tulips shooting down inside to capture the inner tulip.  There is nothing wrong with this approach – the inside of a tulip is beautiful – but try some different points of view.  Get down on the ground and shoot up under the tulip, capturing the stem and underside of the flower. If the light is hitting the flower just right it will appear to glow from within.

Soaking up the SunSoaking up the Sun

When I find an interesting tulip to photograph I try many different variations and really work my subject. I might start photographing the whole flower and then move in closer and closer, so the entire flower fills the frame. I also shoot the flower with a range of aperture settings.  Tulips are beautiful subjects for using a wide open aperture.  I might open up to f2.8 or f3.5 and focus on one point of interest, a line or curve of the tulip, and let the rest fall dreamily out of focus.  If you pay close attention to your background elements and move around, you can pick up beautiful background color that is completely blurred by the wide aperture.  Shooting with wide apertures allows me the freedom to shoot hand-held because I am using faster shutter speeds and my macro lens is equipped with image stabilization.  Shooting hand-held helps me to move around more easily, get very low to the ground and experiment.

'Blushing Beauty' Tulip'Blushing Beauty' Tulip SwirlSwirl

I am always looking for the interactions between flowers to help create a story within my images. Because tulips are planted so close together, there are many opportunities to capture them interacting or to project a bit of a human element into your image, such as the following images, which I titled "Snuggled Up" and "Mother's Embrace."

Snuggled UpSnuggled Up Mother's EmbraceMother's Embrace

Always remember to play, experiment and try new ways of shooting. That’s how we grow as photographers and discover a new way of seeing the world around us. Enjoy the tulips…and all the spring blooms!


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden flower photography lensbaby velvet 56 macro flower photography spring tips for photographing tulips tulips photographing tulips Fri, 22 Apr 2016 19:32:57 GMT
Ranunculus in Bloom 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.

Persian ButtercupPersian Buttercup Persian ButtercupPersian Buttercup Persian ButtercupPersian Buttercup Persian ButtercupPersian Buttercup 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.

Persian ButtercupPersian Buttercup 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.

Ranunculus After the RainRanunculus After the Rain 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!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) ranunculus persian buttercups chicago botanic garden spring flower photography macro photography Tue, 19 Apr 2016 14:55:48 GMT
The Crocuses of Evening Island I always wait with anticipation for the blooming of the crocuses on the grassy hillside on Evening Island at the Chicago Botanic Garden. The hillside is covered in purple, yellow and white crocuses, a sight to behold. This spring, with many rainy and chilly days, the crocuses were slow to open. They are fleeting, only staying fresh a few days once the sun and temperatures allow them to fully open. If it's overcast or chilly they will close back up, so timing is everything. They are unfortunately often trampled by children and adults who walk through the grass without watching their step, or those laying down in them to capture a selfie amidst the flowers. I have often seen parents allow their children to pick them, a concept that is hard to fathom in a public garden, but unfortunately happens. Yesterday they were in their glory, fully open in the sunshine but they won't last much longer.

Full sun can present a challenge when capturing the beauty of crocuses. If the sun is too strong, I use a diffuser to soften the light. Crocuses can be beautiful shot from the ground, allowing backlighting to illuminate the petals, but this kind of light will not work when trying to capture the inner structure and patterns of the crocus, when more diffuse light is needed.

Unless I am shooting the inner structure of the crocus I tend to prefer to photograph crocuses at lower apertures and create a soft portrait of the flowers. Lower apertures help to blur the brown grass the crocuses grow in.

Backlit crocuses shot with the Lensbaby Velvet 56 at f2.8. Crocuses in the Afternoon LightCrocuses in the Afternoon Light This patch of 'Remembrance' dutch crocuses was shot in the late afternoon light. The light illuminates the petals, showing their structure, but does not overwhelm them.

'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus A diffuser was used here to soften the strong light for this macro shot of the inner crocus. Although I often shoot hand held, a tripod (placed carefully so as not to disturb any flowers) is helpful when needing to hold a diffuser or shooting at higher apertures. My tripod has a tilting center column allowing it to go all the way to the ground.

Inside the CrocusInside the Crocus 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus Here again, the soft late afternoon light provides beautiful light for capturing these lovely early spring blooms.

'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus In past years I have photographed the crocuses after a rain. The raindrops add textural interest to any flower. This year rain has accompanied chilly temperatures so the the crocus have been tightly closed after the rain.

'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus Another helpful hint is to carry a plastic garbage bag in your camera bag. The grass is almost always damp and the migrating geese frequent the hillside to nibble on the grass leaving plentiful presents behind. Because shooting crocuses means being down low to the ground, a bag to sit on is always a must. There is plenty of grassy space around the crocuses to place both a tripod and a bag without damaging any flowers.

'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Evening Island, spring, crocus, spring flowers, macro photography, 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Wed, 30 Mar 2016 16:21:11 GMT
The Emergence of Spring Spring is emerging at the Chicago Botanic Garden and I'm there watching it unfold day by day. This is my favorite time of year to photograph. Watching and capturing the emergence of new life each spring is exhilarating to me. The snowdrops started appearing well over a month ago and, in fact, they are now beginning to fade. They are the first harbinger of spring and such a sweet, welcome sight after a long Chicago winter. They are hardy and can withstand snow and cold, popping up as early as January some years. The image below was photographed in the Waterfall Garden. These snowdrops bloom along the steps going to the upper falls, making them easy to get close to if you sit on the steps. Snowdrops are the perfect subject for the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens. I almost always photograph them with a very wide aperture. Snowdrops can be a bit tricky to photograph - finding that perfect balance of focus in the main flower and curving upper stem and a nice blurred background to eliminate distractions. I spend a good deal of time looking for clumps of flowers that have a pleasing main subject and a nice composition surrounding. Because I am photographing them early in the season, before the gardens have been cleared of leaves and stray sticks, I often have to do a little "housekeeping" around the flowers I am photographing, gently moving dead leaves and debris from the dirt around the flowers. It makes my post processing work much easier and is worth the little bit of time and effort. I am a purist when it comes to photographing in a public garden - no touching or altering the plant itself under any circumstances.  

SnowdropsSnowdrops These 'Cream Beauty' Spring Crocuses in the lawn south of the Bulb Garden are usually the first crocuses to bloom each spring. I'm still waiting and watching the crocuses on Evening Island, my favorite crocuses to photograph. They are up but they have been tightly closed with our dip in temperatures and lack of sun this week.

'Cream Beauty' Spring Crocus'Cream Beauty' Spring Crocus Many irises are up around the Garden. The 'Harmony' Reticulata Iris are in abundance in the Sensory Garden Woods. The horticulturist told me yesterday they replant these each year because many don't come back - all 12,000 of them! I love the mix of the Whitespire Birches and the purple irises - simply a beautiful sight!

Harmony IrisHarmony Iris Another favorite iris is the 'Katharine Hodgkin' Iris in the Landscape Garden. I love the patterning on the petals and soft colors. 

Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin'Iris 'Katharine Hodgkin' The very first early tulips are blooming in the Bulb Garden - 'Early Harvest' Tulip. They were wide open with the sunshine and warmer temps over the weekend but they closed with the cold yesterday. I actually find them more interesting to photograph when they are partially closed; their colors are more intense on the outer petals and the subdued light makes them glow. 

'Early Harvest' Tulip'Early Harvest' Tulip So much more to come as spring unfolds. Let's hope for some sunshine and warmer temps. Stay tuned for regular updates as I capture the blooms of spring.  

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, spring flowers, Snowdrops, 'Early Harvest' Tulip, crocus, 'Harmony' Reticulata Iris, 'Katharine Hodgkin' Iris, flower photography, macro photography, Lensbaby Velvet 56 Wed, 23 Mar 2016 17:21:03 GMT
Photographing the Orchids at the Orchid Show I had intended to post more about the Orchid Show long before this. Time is flying and the show is at its halfway point this weekend. I hope you all have had a chance to visit to see both my exhibit and the stunning display of over 10,000 orchids. The show is truly spectacular this year! This weekend the temperatures promise to reach into the 50's. What a perfect weekend for a walk at the Chicago Botanic Garden and a visit to the Orchid Show!

In case you missed my article on the Out of Chicago website, you can read it here. It gives an overview of the show and some tips for shooting orchids. Since the weeks leading up to the show I have been busy and completely focused on capturing the orchids. I've shot over 6,000 images! Do you think I might be a tiny bit passionate about capturing these exotic and beautiful flowers?! I have challenged myself to keep growing and learning new ways to photograph these complex flowers. I have a strong conviction to keep growing as a photographer; in my eyes there is no such thing as mastering a genre of photography. One can always discover new ways to grow and learn. A few short months ago, I presented my macro flower photography class at the Chicago Area Photography School. During that presentation I declared myself a natural light photographer and conveyed that I couldn't get the results I wanted using flash. Yes, I do still prefer shooting in natural light, especially when shooting flowers outdoors. However, shooting flowers indoors, particularly the complex orchid, presents many challenges. Light in the exhibit can be contrasty and bright in the greenhouses and very dim in the inner rooms of the exhibit. Tripods, although allowed on Wednesday afternoons, are cumbersome to use in the pathways of the crowded exhibit. Even when I am shooting before the exhibit opens in the early morning, I am sensitive to being in the way of the busy horticulturists watering and working on the exhibit.  This year I decided to revisit the use of a macro ring light and upgraded my previous model to the Yongnuo YN-14EX-C Macro Ring Light. It got excellent reviews and for $103 (compared to $549 for the Canon model), I felt it was a worth a try.  The quality is impressive and I am thrilled with the results I am getting. The ring light allows me to shoot at higher apertures hand-held. It provides nice even, natural-looking light and helps to provide the necessary fill light to illuminate the inner structure of the orchid. The ring light has truly been a game-changer in how I can shoot the orchids. As with any flash, there is a bit of a learning curve to the use of a ring light, but I have found the Yongnuo easy and intuitive to use.

Here are some images I've captured with the ring light.

  But, of course, when I put on the Lensbaby Velvet to photograph orchids, I am relying on the beautiful natural light this lens is able to capture. This lens continues to amaze me!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden lensbaby velvet 56 macro photography orchid photography exhibit photographing orchids yongnuo macro ring light the 2016 orchid show Sat, 27 Feb 2016 19:27:21 GMT
Guest Post for Out of Chicago - The Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden The Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden opens this Saturday, February 13th. I've been behind the scenes shooting orchids for a few weeks and I couldn't be more excited for the show. My exhibit is hung and ready to welcome you as you enter the show. I wrote a guest post for Out of Chicago with details about the show and some tips for photographing orchids in the exhibit.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, 2016 Orchid Show, orchid photography, flower photography, Anne Belmont Photography, orchid exhibit Wed, 10 Feb 2016 21:34:31 GMT
Garfield Park Conservatory Winter in Chicago feels like it goes on forever and for those of us who are passionate about photographing flowers and plant life, it can be challenging to find enough subject matter to shoot. Chicago is blessed with two great conservatories - Garfield Park Conservatory and Lincoln Park Conservatory, along with the much-loved greenhouses at the Chicago Botanic Garden. These locations keep me happy and shooting the subjects I love throughout the long winter months. Last week I visited the Garfield Park Conservatory with my friend Lara Joy. Located at 300 N. Central Parkway in the city, Garfield is run by the Chicago Park District and it's free to the public. The conservatory is comprised of two acres of public greenhouse space as well as propagating houses and outdoor gardens. We spent a lot time photographing in the Show House (pictured below), which is the site of beautiful flower shows each year. The holiday amaryllis were still on display, along with many other flowering plants. Garfield does not allow the use of tripods, so on this gloomy, rainy day it was challenging to get enough light to hand-hold. I embraced the situation and shot softer focus images and enjoyed playing with my Lensbaby lenses, as well.  

AmaryllisAmaryllis White AmaryllisWhite Amaryllis White AmaryllisWhite Amaryllis Thoroughly exploring Garfield's many rooms requires more than a day. I decided to narrow my focus and chose to spend a good deal of time in the Desert House. Garfield has a varied and large collection of cacti and succulents in this large greenhouse. I enjoyed meeting and talking to Ray, a horticulturist in the Desert House, and he gave me a little tour of all his favorites in the Desert House. I am always awed by the passion of all the horticulturists I meet, their vast knowledge and their dedication to the plants they nurture. For me, part of the fun of photographing in these public spaces is meeting the people who care for them. They help me appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of the plants I photograph. Ray was so friendly and he introduced us to another horticulturist, Kathy, who gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of the propagating greenhouses. What a fun day it was. I can't wait to go back and more fully explore the rooms at Garfield. It's a great place to spend a cold winter day. A true Chicago treasure.

Succulent SymmetrySucculent Symmetry AgaveAgave AgaveAgave AgaveAgave

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Garfield Park Conservatory Chicago greenhouses holiday flower show Desert House amaryllis agave cacti succulents flower photography soft focus Lensbaby Tue, 12 Jan 2016 17:19:15 GMT
Out of Chicago Summer Photography Conference


The registration is finally open for the Out of Chicago Summer Conference, June 24-26, 2016! This is a photography conference not to be missed! Great instructors, workshops, photowalks, panel discussions and one-on-one sessions covering many genres of photography. If you register before January 14 you will receive $250 off the $499 price. This is a great price for a weekend packed with learning, networking and social events. Check out the amazing line-up of presenters and register here.

I am proud to be a part of the Out of Chicago team that organizes this conference and many other events. This year I am excited to be presenting two sections of 'Macro Flower Photography: The Art of Seeing and Capturing the Beauty of Flowers,' as well as leading a photo walk to Lurie Gardens with fellow macro photographer, Mike Moats. Check out my presenter page here.

Don't wait to register for this amazing conference. It will sell out quickly! 


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Out of Chicago Summer Photography Conference, June 24-26, Chicago, Anne Belmont, Macro Flower Photography Thu, 07 Jan 2016 20:53:09 GMT
Lensbaby Velvet 56mm Lens Last spring as the tulips were emerging the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm lens was released. I hopped right on board and ordered it. I was mesmerized by the images I saw being produced with this newest lens in the line-up of the Lensbaby lenses. Having owned the original Lensbaby Composer and macro converters, I was familiar with the unique qualities of these lenses, but I had no idea how completely smitten I would become with this lens as I began to experiment with it. As I look back over the past year photographically, the images I produced with this lens are some of my favorite of the year and they mark a definite move to capturing my subjects in a softer way.  The Velvet is a 56mm f1.6 portrait and macro lens. As with all Lensbaby lenses, it is manual focus and manual aperture.  Because the lens will focus as close as 5 inches, it is perfect for macro flower photography.   The wide open apertures create dreamy images with a beautiful velvety and ethereal feel.  Shooting at lower apertures means you can easily hand-hold this lens, but hand-holding with manual focus can be a bit tricky. Another thing I love about the Velvet is that the images require next to no post processing; often times I post them as they are straight out of the camera. Eager to continue to develop my softer focus work, Santa has promised me a Lensbaby kit with the Composer Pro and many of the optics I am eager to experiment with. Now, if only spring would come quickly and I can be back outdoors shooting flowers as I love doing the most. For now, I'll have to make do with indoor subjects and the Chicago Botanic Garden's Orchid Show is right around the corner. It will be fun to experiment with shooting orchids with the Velvet and my newer additions. Here are some of my favorite images shot with the Velvet through this year.

               Sweet Bay Magnolia

Sweet Bay MagnoliaSweet Bay Magnolia                                                                  Clematis

ClematisClematis                                                                  Grape Hyacinth  Grape HyacinthGrape Hyacinth               'Julia' Coneflower

'Julia' Coneflower'Julia' Coneflower                                                                  'Much Niceness' Tulip

'Much Niceness' Tulip'Much Niceness' Tulip Catching the LightCatching the Light                Soft Curves of the Tulip

"Scheeper's' Mix Tulip"Scheeper's' Mix Tulip                Dahlia

Dahlia GlowDahlia Glow                                                                 Fern Unfolding

EmergenceEmergence               'Red Velvet' Echeveria

'Red Velvet' Echeveria'Red Velvet' Echeveria

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) lensbaby velvet 56mm lens lensbaby flower photography soft focus flower photography chicago botanic garden tulips magnolia confeflower echeveria fern dahlia Thu, 10 Dec 2015 03:36:40 GMT
What's in a Name? What's in a name? Well, the 'Annie Girl' Garden Chrysanthemum would smell as sweet and be as beautiful at any name, but the name certainly clinched it for me! Annie has always been my family nickname. These beauties in the Sensory Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden have to be my favorite fall flower this year. Soft pink with that sassy burst of gold and they smell heavenly. Believe me, I know. I sat on the bed ledge photographing them for over an hour yesterday. As you will see in the last photograph I experimented with a fun technique of covering my lens with tulle to give a very soft focus effect. 'Annie Girl' Garden Chrysanthemum'Annie Girl' Garden Chrysanthemum 'Annie Girl' Garden Chrysanthemum'Annie Girl' Garden Chrysanthemum 'Annie Girl' Garden Chrysanthemum'Annie Girl' Garden Chrysanthemum Don't miss the mum displays all over the Garden. They are really spectacular this year. Have you seen the display in the Crescent Garden? They go from deep red to gold in color and I love the addition of the Japanese maples along the path to the lake. Our colors are just starting to pop and the air is crisp and cool. Happy fall!

Crescent Garden in FallCrescent Garden in Fall

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Fall, 'Annie Girl' Garden Chrysanthemum, fall color, Chicago Botanic Garden, Sensory Garden, Crescent Garden, flower photography, macro photography Sun, 18 Oct 2015 22:14:11 GMT
Last of the Butterflies I enjoyed photographing in the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at Chicago Botanic Garden every week during the summer. The summer flew by and Labor Day weekend saw the closing of the exhibit for the summer. The new location of the exhibit proved to be a wonderful change with beautiful views of both McDonald Woods to the north and the Japanese Garden to the south. I'm posting my favorite images for the summer. Some of the images were in a blog post earlier in the summer but they remain my favorites for the summer.

              Orchard Swallowtail Orchard SwallowtailOrchard Swallowtail               Buckeye BuckeyeBuckeye               Green Jay

Green JayGreen Jay               Mocker Swallowtail

Mocker Swallowtail on SkyflowerMocker Swallowtail on Skyflower                                                                 Paper Kites

Paper KitePaper Kite

Paper Kite on SkyflowerPaper Kite on Skyflower               Postman                                                                 White Peacock

White PeacockWhite Peacock                                                                Blue Clipper  Blue Clipper on False SpireaBlue Clipper on False Spirea               Tiger Longwing

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:20:31 GMT
Lotus in Bloom All the attention at the Chicago Botanic Garden has been centered around the Titan Arum or Corpse Flower, fondly called "Spike," that is about to bloom.  You can read about it on the CBG website and even follow a 24/7 webcam so you know when the flower is blooming.  Like expectant parents we wait, but it should happen any day, any hour now. It has brought many crowds to the Garden to watch the flower as it grows and progresses toward blooming. Meanwhile there are many things that continue to bloom at the Garden. In my frequent visits to check Spike, I continue to enjoy the beautiful water lilies in bloom in the Heritage Garden.  This week I was lucky to catch a lotus in bloom.  This 'Perry's Giant Sunburst' lotus has bloomed several times already but, unless you are there the day it blooms, you will miss it.  They are spectacularly beautiful but are usually at their peak for photographing for one day. Not only was the flower in peak bloom but it was a nice overcast day, perfect for photographing aquatic blooms.

'Perry's Giant Sunburst' Lotus'Perry's Giant Sunburst' Lotus   'Perry's Giant Sunburst' Lotus'Perry's Giant Sunburst' Lotus

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lotus, Chicago Botanic Garden, Heritage Garden, aquatic gardens, summer flowers, flower photography Fri, 28 Aug 2015 17:08:53 GMT
Victoria WaterLily The Victoria waterlilies are in bloom in the Heritage Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Many buds have already opened but there are plenty of buds to come.  The Victoria waterlilies are a fascinating aquatic plant with beautiful flowers and large, thorny lily pads. They are native to the river basins of South America where they bloom from spring into the fall.  They produce the second largest leaf of any plant in the world, reaching as large as 8 feet in diameter, depending on water and air temperature and water depth.  The lily pads have ribs and large thorny undersides that help protect the pad but the surface of the pad is delicate and easily punctured, which is why the Garden asks guests not to throw coins on the lily pads. At CBG the Victorias typically bloom in late July through early fall.  The day before the Victoria flowers it sends a large bud up to the surface of the water.  The Victoria only blooms at night and each bloom lasts for 48 hours.  On the first evening, the white flower (which is female) opens to lure its pollinator, a beetle, with its strong scent.  The beetle feasts on the nectar of the flower and is trapped inside when the flower closes the morning of the second day.  The flower opens again on the second night.  This time it is pink in color and male.  When it opens, the pollen-covered beetle is released to pollinate other flowers.  The flower closes and sinks into the water to allow its seeds to germinate.

  Victoria Waterlily BudVictoria Waterlily Bud Victoria WaterlilyVictoria Waterlily Victoria WaterlilyVictoria Waterlily

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) aquatic plants chicago botanic garden flower photography heritage garden lily pads victoria waterlily Mon, 17 Aug 2015 17:33:35 GMT
What's in Bloom? So, what's in bloom at Chicago Botanic Garden?  The answer is EVERYTHING! We went from a chilly, rainy start to our summer to hot, hot, hot, so if you can stand the heat, there's lots to photograph at the Garden.  Some of my favorites this time of year are the dahlias, the waterlilies and the roses.

Some of the most beautiful dahlias are in the Circle Garden.  I was photographing there this week with my friend, Chris Smith, and we were lucky to catch many of the dahlias after their early morning watering.  This Firepot Waterlily Dahlia, being fully open, caught my attention.  I love the intensity of the colors and the curls of the petals make it look like it is dancing. (Just a note - I learned from a dahlia expert last year while visiting the Dahlia Flower Show at CBG that once a dahlia opens fully like this, it is no longer competition-worthy.  It was suggested I not photograph flowers in this state.  Well, I happen to think they are beautiful when fully open, so no stopping me!)

Firepot Waterlily DahliaFirepot Waterlily Dahlia Firepot Waterlily DahliaFirepot Waterlily Dahlia A fitting name for this vibrant dahlia - Flamethrower Dahlia. I love the way the petals are edged in red.

'Flamethrower' Dahlia'Flamethrower' Dahlia Dahlia in the RainDahlia in the Rain The Karma Sangria Dahlias in the beds in front of the Visitor's Center are fun to shoot and in shade so you can shoot them any time of day. I thought they were more interesting subjects shot wide open at f2.8, focusing only on the front petal.

Karma Sangria DahliaKarma Sangria Dahlia Waterlilies are in full bloom in the Heritage Garden.  They have been challenging to shoot this summer because most days we've had full sun with little cloud cover by the time they open mid-morning.  I'm a bit of a purest when it comes to shooting waterlilies.  I usually wait for overcast days and don't even try on brighter days. My friend Chris convinced me to use a polarizing filter as the sun became too strong and was starting to cast harsh light and shadows on the petals.  I have used a polarizer on water lilies before with mixed results.  The polarizer helps to darken the water and eliminate reflections, as well.   Chris was right, it does work as you can see in the first photo, but I do prefer the softer light of the remaining photos, all taken on a bright overcast day.

WaterlilyWaterlily WaterlilyWaterlily

WaterliliesWaterlilies WaterlilyWaterlily WaterlilyWaterlily

And, then there are the roses of the Garden.  So beautiful and fun to photograph in all sorts of ways. I shoot roses in the early morning or in early evening's soft light.  I always experiment with a variety of apertures, sometimes preferring to see the whole rose in focus, other times wanting a softer, more abstract and simplified portrait that emphasizes colors and sensuous curves. The first rose was shot at f8 so that only the very center of the rose is in focus, the outer petals drifting out of focus to convey the softness in the flower.  The second portrait was wide open at f2.8, nothing sharply in focus.  I always encourage beginning macro flower photographers to experiment with aperture.  For me, each flower has a different story to tell and aperture helps me tell that story.  Usually I know right away how I want to shoot a flower and what story I am looking to tell, but sometimes I need to experiment, get the images home on my computer to be able to choose.  There is no right or wrong way to express your vision of a flower, whether you choose to shoot soft at f2.8 or sharply focused at f22 or even f32. Camera club judges may tell you everything has to be sharply focused to be a winning photograph but maybe that's not the story you want to tell.  Let your style, your vision and your eye guide you.

Love and Peace Rose

'Love and Peace' Rose'Love and Peace' Rose


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden circle garden firepot waterlily dahlia flamethrower dahlia flower photography heritage garden karma sangria dahlia love and peace rose roses waterlilies dahlias Fri, 31 Jul 2015 13:39:52 GMT
The Butterflies are Taking Off! To all my readers, I apologize for being MIA and not posting during a time when so much is blooming and happening at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Between the incredibly successful and fun Out of Chicago Conference in June (another blog post that should have happened), having family home and a wonderful trip to Santa Fe with my daughters, I've had no time to process photos and post. This week I'm playing catch up! 

I've continued my weekly visits to Butterflies and Blooms to help the Garden document butterflies but with the crazy weather we've had this summer - unusually cold and very rainy - the butterflies have been slow to progress at the Garden's exhibit.  I'm happy to report that this week the numbers and varieties of butterflies are really beginning to grow.  I was able to capture a lot of great shots this week and Patrick, the exhibit's manager, is releasing large numbers every day.  I never tire of learning new things about butterflies and photographing in the exhibit.  One thing I am learning in my third year of photographing butterflies for the Garden is just how tricky it is to identify some species of butterflies.  Just when I think you have it down, I get all confused again.  There is so much variation within species and between the males and females of each species, not to mention that each species has a variety of acceptable names.  I invite you to visit my large collection of butterfly photographs in the butterfly gallery of this website. It is always my hope that it helps others to identify butterflies they have seen or photographed.  Many of my photographs are documentary in style so that the Garden can use them for butterfly identification guides and promotion of the exhibit, but I do try to seek out shots that are more artistic and have had fun experimenting with different angles and ways to photograph the butterflies.

A stunning Orchard Swallowtail

Orchard SwallowtailOrchard Swallowtail A form of heliconius (most likely a Postman) on lantana. Patrick and I are still trying to identify this one - an example of how species can vary.

    The always beautiful and delicate Paper Kite on skyflower

Paper Kite on SkyflowerPaper Kite on Skyflower   Hello there, little Common Sergeant, resting in the cup of a leaf! I love this up-close perspective of butterflies!

Common SergeantCommon Sergeant One of my personal favorites just appeared in the exhibit, the White Peacock.

White PeacockWhite Peacock Blue Clipper peaking out from behind a leaf, upside down

Blue ClipperBlue Clipper And don't forget to check out what is emerging in the Pupa Emergence Room.  Always some good photo ops there.

A Lacewing emerging and ready to be released.

LacewingLacewing An Orange Emigrant ready to fly.

Orange EmigrantOrange Emigrant Stay tuned for posts on dahlias and water lilies at the Garden.  They are gorgeous right now!


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterflies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, Orchard Swallowtail, Lacewing, Paper Kite, White Peacock, Common Sergeant, Blue Clipper, Orange Emigrant, butterflies, butterfly photography Fri, 17 Jul 2015 18:44:05 GMT
Butterflies and Blooms Exhibit is Open Blue Clipper on FirebushBlue Clipper on Firebush Blue Clipper Butterfly on Firebush

The butterflies are back! The Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden opened this past weekend to great crowds and beautiful weather for the holiday weekend. As many people know, this is one of my favorite things at the Chicago Botanic Garden in the summer. I am fortunate to be able to help the Garden document the butterfly species and they use many of many images for advertising and exhibit materials. Yesterday was my first day back in the exhibit. It was a bit chilly early in the morning, so the butterflies were hiding, but I managed to get some good shots. The number of butterflies are more limited right now but they are quickly emerging in the Pupa Emergence Room and new species are being released each day. Be sure and meet Patrick Sbordone, butterfly extraordinaire.  He oversees the exhibit and cares for the butterflies.  He releases newly emerged butterflies every morning about 10:15, right after opening - a fun event to watch.  The exhibit is open daily, weather permitting, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until September 7th.  Because of construction of the new Learning Campus, the exhibit has been moved this year to a new location -  the Annex Road near McDonald Woods.  The location is truly spectacular, with views of McDonald Woods to the north and the Japanese Island and Lake to the south.  The new 2,800 square foot black mesh enclosure allows for better views of the surroundings. The layout if almost identical to past years and the variety of plants and flowers, all ideal for butterflies, will grow lush and full as the season progresses.  It's best to visit multiple times as the species vary from week to week, with new arrivals coming weekly.  Bring your camera, but no tripods allowed unless you rent a private butterfly shoot before opening.  Check out the CBG website for more information.

For tips on shooting butterflies in the exhibit, read my blog post from last year about photographing butterflies.    

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterflies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, photographing butterflies, macro photography, butterflies, Blue Clipper butterfly, firebush Wed, 27 May 2015 14:49:24 GMT
Spring Tulips Where have all the tulips gone?  Spring seemed to pass much too quickly and, although the tulips at the Chicago Botanic Garden were as magnificent as ever, they seemed to come and go so quickly.   I usually like to blog about what is currently in bloom at the Garden, but travels and a very full plate of projects I am working on has kept me from posting as regularly as I would like.  I have been shooting almost every day but getting images processed and on my website for posting is another story.  I hope to get back on schedule because I know many people follow my blog specifically to know what's in bloom at the Garden. Although most all of the tulips have now been removed to make way for the summer gardens, here is a sampling of some of my favorites.  

The Circle Garden is always a favorite area and this view of one of the side or "secret" gardens within the Circle Garden was simply magnificent this year.

Tulip Time in the Secret GardenTulip Time in the Secret Garden

The blend of tulips in this garden were called 'Much Niceness,' a perfect name for these beauties.

'Much Niceness' Tulip'Much Niceness' Tulip

This second and third shots were taken with the Lensbaby Velvet 56mm.

'Much Niceness' Tulip'Much Niceness' Tulip TulipTulip

In the opposite "secret" garden bed within the Circle Garden was a bed of 'Pillow Talk' tulips, both a creamy yellow version and a soft pink version.  I love the names they come up for flowers!  These certainly had the softness of elegant pillows and I knew I had to capture them with the Lensbaby Velvet. 

'Pillow Talk' Tulip'Pillow Talk' Tulip Planted among the 'Pillow Talk' tulips were colorful grape hyacinth.  I love the way these semi-double tulips open into wide bowls. The second photograph of the pink variety is with the Lensbaby Velvet.

Tulip in the Circle GardenTulip in the Circle Garden TulipTulip

Within the four quadrants of the Circle Garden, surrounding the fountain were lush beds of 'Scheeper's' Mix tulips.  These were some of my favorite tulips of the season.  The soft color and ruffles of this tulip were so sensuous and beautiful.

'Scheeper's Mix' Tulip'Scheeper's Mix' Tulip Another vibrant and bold bed of tulips was in the Rose Garden Terrace. I had fun experimenting with the Lensbaby Velvet, trying to capture their bold lines but with the softness and glow this lens gives to an image.

Catching the LightCatching the Light And a close up with my 100mm macro.

Fiery TulipFiery Tulip Beautiful beds of 'Angelique' tulips filled the courtyard between the Enabling Garden and the Sensory Garden.  This area, year after year, has spectacular tulips often missed by visitors.  They are ideal for photographing because the beds are in shade, so I often find myself in this garden later in the morning after the sun is too high and intense for other areas. All of these were photographed with the Lensbaby Velvet.  Can you tell I'm absolutely smitten with this lens?! 

'Angelique' Tulip'Angelique' Tulip 'Angelique' Tulip'Angelique' Tulip 'Angelique' Tulip with Bud'Angelique' Tulip with Bud This is a mere sampling of the many tulips that graced the gardens of the Chicago Botanic Garden.  The garden staff have been busy all week pulling out the spring gardens and beginning to plant the summer gardens.  We have much to look forward to - beautiful blooms and warmer temperatures ahead.




[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, tulips, spring, flower photography, macro photography, garden photography, Lensbaby Velvet 56mm lens, Circle Garden, Rose Garden Terrace, Enabling Garden, Sensory Garden Sun, 24 May 2015 04:18:59 GMT
Crabapples in Bloom A much awaited event at the Chicago Botanic Garden is the blooming of the crabapple trees.  This week they all popped - the canopy of trees lining the path along Lakeside Gardens and 100's of other crabapples, redbuds and fruit trees throughout the Garden.  One of my favorite flowering trees in the spring is the Selkirk Crabapple.  There are a number of them lining the path leading into the Graham Bulb Garden and their beautiful pink flowers are a delight to the eyes.

 A few weeks ago I purchased a new lens released by Lensbaby, the Lensbaby Velvet 56. You can read about the lens on the Lensbaby website and see sample photos taken with the lens. I am a photographer who enjoys doing two styles of flower photography - precisely focused, detailed photographs as well as soft-focus, dreamier images.  I have fallen in love with the Velvet 56.  It is a 56mm f1.6 manual focus portrait and macro lens.  Because the lens will focus as close as 5 inches, it is perfect for macro flower photography.   The wide open apertures create dreamy images with a beautiful velvety and ethereal feel.  Shooting at lower apertures means you can easily hand hold this lens and even shoot on windier days and still maintain sharpness in the critical areas, but hand holding with manual focus can be a bit tricky.  Another thing I love about the Lensbaby Velvet images is that they require next to no post processing; often times I use them as they are straight out of the camera.  I will share more images produced with the Lensbaby Velvet in a future post (it's been on my camera a lot this spring), but for now, here are a few I captured of the Selkirk Crabapple blossoms.    

Selkirk CrabappleSelkirk Crabapple Selkirk CrabappleSelkirk Crabapple Selkirk CrabappleSelkirk Crabapple        

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Selkirk Crabapples, spring flowering trees, crabapples, Lensbaby Velvet 56, macro photography, soft focus, flower photography, Chicago Botanic Garden, Graham Bulb Garden Sun, 10 May 2015 04:25:04 GMT
Magnolias in Bloom The magnolias in our area are all in bloom.  Their fragrant and beautiful flowers are fleeting and don't last long before the petals shower down like snow.  They are a difficult flower to photograph - contrasty light, spring winds and finding perfect blossoms in a good orientation are often challenging. Yesterday my friend Maria took me to a small park in her neighborhood with two beautiful Star Magnolias in bloom.  They were filled with creamy white, wide open blooms.  The soft light of the late afternoon made for perfect photographing of the flowers.  For the first image, I was able to orient myself so that the blurred grass beyond the tree served as a background.  I love that this blossom was wide open and adjacent to a bud.  The buds of the magnolias are as beautiful as the open flowers.

Star MagnoliaStar Magnolia Magnolias are perfect flowers to capture in a softer focus way, focusing on the middle and letting the petals drift out of focus and the flowers behind providing a soft white backdrop. Star MagnoliaStar Magnolia Star MagnoliaStar Magnolia

The image below was captured in the last rays of the early evening sun.  Star MagnoliaStar Magnolia The magnolia is one of the few flowers that I feel translates well to black and white.

Star MagnoliaStar Magnolia Star MagnoliaStar Magnolia

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Star Magnolia, magnolia trees, Wilmette, flower photography, spring, white, macro photography, soft focus flowers Sat, 18 Apr 2015 22:44:58 GMT
The Emergence of Spring at the Chicago Botanic Garden It's been a busy and exciting few months for me with my solo exhibition at the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show, followed by the Garden Photographic Society's annual 'Nature In View' Show.  My orchid panels and the GPS show just came down this week to make way for set-up of the Antiques and Garden Design Show at the Garden.  Now I turn my attention from two months of shooting orchids to finally capturing the emergence of spring. After a long and very cold winter, it's wonderful to be outside soaking up the sunshine and scouting out the blooms.  Those first signs of spring - the snowdrops, the early irises and the crocuses - are eagerly awaited each year and signal the emergence of life and color to our winter landscape.  Each year I watch and wait for the crocuses to bloom on Evening Island at the Garden.  It seemed to happen overnight this year and they didn't last long before being trampled by the Easter weekend crowds.  Nevertheless, I was able to spend some time sitting among the flowers on the grassy hillside and capturing their beauty up close.

Crocus on Evening IslandCrocus on Evening Island 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus Crocus on Evening IslandCrocus on Evening Island 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus   

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Crocus, purple, flower photography, macro photography, soft focus flowers, Chicago Botanic Garden, Evening Island, spring, emergence of spring Sat, 11 Apr 2015 01:29:22 GMT
'Nature in View' Exhibiton Open at the Chicago Botanic Garden 'Mardy Gras' Dahlia'Mardy Gras' Dahlia For more than thirty five years, the Garden Photographic Society has been meeting at the Chicago Botanic Garden, providing members a special place to pursue their passion for photographing nature. We invite you to visit the Garden in the coming weeks to watch spring finally unfold and to stop in Joutras Gallery, located in Regenstein Center, to see the Garden Photographic Society's annual 'Nature in View' exhibit. The exhibition features 80 photographs of the natural world, many of which were taken at the Garden. The exhibit opened Saturday, March 21 and runs through Monday, April 6. The exhibit is free to the public but the Chicago Botanic Garden does charge non-members for parking. Members can park for free.

In addition, even though the Orchid Show is over, my orchid photographs are still hanging in Krehbiel Gallery in Regenstein and will remain there for a couple more weeks.  Don't miss the gorgeous display of spring flowers in the reflecting pool in Krehbiel.  Even though we have snow again in Chicago, those flowers will give you hope warmer temps will be back again soon!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) nature in view exhibition garden photographic society photography exhibit nature photography chicago botanic garden Mon, 23 Mar 2015 19:37:40 GMT
One More Week for the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show! If you haven't had a chance to visit the Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden or see my special exhibit of orchid photographs, you have one more week to visit this tropical paradise.  The show closes on March 15th.  It's been a whirlwind few weeks of excitement as the show has generated a lot of interest in my work and I'm busy filling print and panel orders.  Many people are inquiring about having panels like those in the exhibition produced and I'm delighted to do so.  I have a wonderful relationship with the printer and feel they have done a superb job with the printing.  Visit the tab at the top of the page "Order Prints" for all the offerings in size and price.

Meanwhile I have been continuing to shoot orchids almost every day during the exhibit.  Through the past year of working on this project orchids have become a passion of mine and I continue to love every minute of trying to capture their unique features and personality.  Besides shooting in the exhibit itself I have collaborated with a local florist to shoot orchids in their greenhouse.  Victor Hlavacek Florist in Winnetka is a business very close to my home.  It has been thriving in our community for 90 years and it's easy to see why.  Their floral arrangements are works of art and the staff is the friendliest group you can imagine.  Hlavacek created a display at the Orchid Show which is truly one of my favorite parts of the show.  Be sure to look in the greenhouse gallery area near the Semitropical Greenhouse to see the beautiful display they created.  I was able to photograph many of the orchids in this display before they were taken to the Garden for installation. Here's a sampling of what I've been working on. You can see more in my Orchid Gallery on this website and I'll be adding many more as I have time to process them.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden orchid show orchids orchid photography anne belmont photography victor hlavacek florist orchid photography exhibition Fri, 06 Mar 2015 22:13:49 GMT
Article for Out of Chicago - The Orchid Show at Chicago Botanic Garden Phalaenopsis #4Phalaenopsis #4 Please enjoy my latest article on Out of Chicago - "The Orchid Show at The Chicago Botanic Garden."  Remember, Wednesdays the Garden is allowing tripods in the exhibit - a real bonus for us photographers! Come see the orchids...and my exhibit in Regenstein.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Orchids, Chicago Botanic Garden, Anne Belmont, orchid photography exhibit, 2015 Orchid Show, orchid photography Wed, 18 Feb 2015 21:56:42 GMT
Geting Ready for the 2015 Orchid Show at Chicago Botanic Garden Two weeks from today the Orchid Show opens at Chicago Botanic Garden!  For those of you who love to shoot in the greenhouses during the winter months, the only greenhouse open at present is the Arid Greenhouse.  Both the Tropical and Semitropical Greenhouses are closed to the public while they are being transformed into magical orchid paradises.  The large panels of my 20 images being featured in the show were delivered this week and I couldn't be more thrilled with the results.  We hope to hang them in the coming week so people can start enjoying them and get excited for the show opening on February 14th.  It's amazing to watch the staff at work, carefully and thoughtfully placing each orchid in its display. It is truly the work of many talented and creative people who spend countless hours to put this show together.  I don't think I will ever get over the thrill of seeing my image hanging all over the Garden in the banners and all the advertising for the show.  Please come!  It will whisk you away to paradise and help you forget our cold and snowy Chicago winter!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, 2015 Orchid Show, Anne Belmont, orchid photography, Krehbiel Gallery Sat, 31 Jan 2015 23:23:48 GMT
The 2015 Orchid Show - Chicago Botanic Garden


A year-long project of great passion has finally come to fruition for me and now that the contract is signed, the images are in production, the banners and posters up, I can finally share my news! The 2015 Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden will feature 20 of my images of orchids in large panels hanging in Krehbiel Gallery, the main gallery of Regenstein Center. The above image is the one chosen for all the advertising, posters and large banners lining the entry to the Garden and flanking the Visitor's Center. It is quite a thrill to see that image all around the Garden! I invite you all to visit The Orchid Show, which runs from February 14 – March 15. Regenstein Hall, the galleries and greenhouses will all be transformed into a magical and elaborate display of more than 10,000 orchids. I guarantee it will take your breath away and make you forget the cold winter weather outside when you step into this tropical paradise. This year's show promises to be bigger and better than the first. Having photographed last year's show, worked with the Garden over the past months to produce my images and watched the behind-the-scenes action, I now appreciate the tremendous amount of work and passion that goes into each detail of the show. It has been such a privilege and an honor to be a part of it and I am grateful to the Garden for coming to me and entrusting me with this big project. For more information about The Orchid Show, ticket sales, and all the events surrounding the show, visit the Chicago Botanic Garden's website. Prints of the images in The Orchid Show will be available through my website and I will have that information available in the coming weeks. I will offer a variety of sizes, all personally printed on fine art archival paper and signed. Matting and framing will be available upon request.  Come see this wonderful show in a place that has captured my heart and soul and I know will capture yours.  Don't forget your camera!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, 2015 Orchid Show, orchids, orchid photography, Anne Belmont, Krehbiel Gallery, flower photography Fri, 16 Jan 2015 22:30:29 GMT
Happy New Year Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and photography-filled new year!  2014 has been a year filled with many opportunities and growth and I am very excited for what is to come in 2015! The end of the year is a time to reflect on the year gone by and to think about goals and hopes for the coming year.   I am grateful to my family for all their support and encouragement as I pursue a passion that brings such joy to my life, and to the many, many friends I have met who have become a part of my photography family.  I feel so blessed!

Holiday Lights at The Chicago Botanic Garden

Festive Balls at the GardenFestive Balls at the Garden Holiday Lights at the GardenHoliday Lights at the Garden Tree in the EsplanadeTree in the Esplanade Holiday Lights in the Heritage GardenHoliday Lights in the Heritage Garden 'Red Pearl' Amaryllis in the Semitropical Greenhouse at CBG

'Red Pearl' Amaryllis'Red Pearl' Amaryllis


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, holidays, holiday flowers, holiday lights, Semitropical Greenhouse, Red Pearl Amaryllis Fri, 26 Dec 2014 20:32:00 GMT
Flowers for the Holidays The greenhouses at the Chicago Botanic Garden are transformed with lights and a variety of holiday flowers -  brightly-colored amaryllis, poinsettias and kalanchoe. While Wonderland Express is going on, the greenhouses stay open until 6 p.m., well-past dark.  It's fun to walk through them in the dark with the dramatic holiday lights. Photographing the flowers, however, requires daylight so go early enough to get good light.  Just as the reality of another long cold Chicago winter is settling in, it's nice to have some beautiful flower subjects to photograph in the warmth of the greenhouses. The first round of amaryllis in the Semitropical greenhouse were the 'Pink Surprise' amaryllis.  I'm glad I had a chance to photograph these beauties before they faded.  They have since been replaced by a new deep red variety. They are just beginning to open and I hope to grab some time to photograph them tomorrow.

                                                          'Pink Surprise' Amaryllis
'Pink Surprise' Amaryllis'Pink Surprise' Amaryllis

'Pink Surprise' Amaryllis'Pink Surprise' Amaryllis Poinsettias were never a favorite flower of mine until I visited the Lincoln Park Conservatory a couple of years ago to see their holiday flower display.  I was fascinated to learn that there are about 100 varieties of poinsettias in a wide range of colors.  The red poinsettia is by far the most popular because of its association with Christmas. The poinsettia is part of the spurge family.  The showy colored parts of poinsettias that most people think of as the flowers are actually colored bracts or leaves. The yellow flowers (cyathia) are in the center of the colorful bracts. Contrary to popular belief, the poinsettia is not poisonous.  Since that visit I have enjoyed photographing the poinsettias at CBG and more fully appreciate their beautiful patterns and textures.


PoinsettiaPoinsettia Holiday PoinsettiaHoliday Poinsettia For more about the holidays at The Chicago Botanic Garden be sure and read my article posted on last week.  The festivities at the Garden last until January 4th!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, holiday flowers, winter, greenhouses, amaryllis, Pink Surprise amaryllis, pointsettia Fri, 19 Dec 2014 02:22:12 GMT
'Out of Chicago' Article - Capturing the Holidays at the Chicago Botanic Garden Enjoy my latest article on - Capturing the Holidays at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  The Garden is a magical, beautiful place during the holidays.  Bundle up and see for yourself!

Holiday Lights in the Heritage GardenHoliday Lights in the Heritage Garden

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Out of Chicago, Chris Smith, Chicago Botanic Garden, Wonderland Express, holiday lights, holidays, greenhouses, flower photography Sat, 13 Dec 2014 15:59:20 GMT
'Out of Chicago' Article on The Arid Greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden Enjoy my latest article on on photographing in the Arid Greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  It's a great place to photograph during the long winter months in Chicago!

Echinopsis 'Apricot Glow'Echinopsis 'Apricot Glow'

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Out of Chicago, Chris Smith, Chicago Botanic Garden, Arid Greenhouse, photographing cacti and succulents, Echinopis Apricot Glow Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:37:04 GMT
The Science of Blue - How the Blue Morpho Tricks Us As winter weather descends on the Chicago area, we are well-past the butterfly season at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  The Butterflies and Blooms exhibit closed in early September and the Garden has already moved the mesh enclosure to its new location for next summer. While construction is going on at the Children's Learning Campus, the butterfly exhibit will be temporarily located in an open area along the east road of the Garden, just east of of the parking lots and south of McDonald Woods. Eventually a new, more permanent butterfly structure will be incorporated into the new Children's Learning Campus.  I am thankful the Garden is keeping this wonderful exhibit going in its new location while the transition occurs.  It is a highlight of summer for this butterfly enthusiast. 

This morning I came across a fascinating article on NPR's website by Rae Ellen Bichell about the color blue in nature:  How Animals Hacked the Rainbow and Got Stumped on Blue. In the article Bichell talks about one of the most magnificent examples of blue in nature, the Blue Morpho butterfly. The Blue Morpho is probably the most popular butterfly for visitors to the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit and it's easy to see why.  Watching the Morpho fly about the enclosure one can see the shimmering blue of the Morpho's inner wings.  As soon as the butterfly lands, she closes her wings and all one sees are the brown outer wings, which are beautifully patterned, but much less of a show-stopper as the glimmering blue. It's hard for us photographers to capture the resting Blue Morpho with wings open since they almost always rest with wings closed.

Most colors in nature - red, yellow, green - are chemical, or derived from pigment.  Many animals take these pigments from the foods they eat and incorporate them into their outer structure, hence the pink color of flamingos (shrimp, crabs and algae) and the red breast of the robin (berries).  Blue is the exception; it is actually rare for an animal to contain blue pigment.  Bichell states, "of all Earth's inhabitants with backbones, not one is known to harbor blue pigment. Even some of the most brilliantly blue things in nature — a peacock feather, or a blue eye, for example — don't contain a single speck of blue pigment." Wait a do we explain the blue of the Morpho, the blue of a scarab beetle or the peacock feather?  According to the article, it's a kind of a trick of nature, a structure or optical technology that has evolved that makes the butterfly or other creatures appear blue.  The butterflies have "tiny transparent prism structures" on their wings that reflect light to make them appear blue. If you were to grind up the wings of a Blue Morpho butterfly, it would lose its reflective structure and the dust would be brown. 

So next summer, when you see these beautiful creatures of nature fluttering about the enclosure, think of the science behind that blue.  The evolution of color and the way animals incorporate it is a fascinating thing!

Blue MorphoBlue Morpho Blue MorphoBlue Morpho Blue MorphoBlue Morpho Blue MorphoBlue Morpho

If you enjoy reading about the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit, read another recent post here.

Ten Tips for Photographing Butterflies

Link to podcast about Summer at The Chicago Botanic Garden and Butterflies and Blooms exhibit here.



[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterflies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, Blue Morpho butterfly, butterfly photography, NPR, How Animals Hacked the Rainbow and Got Stumped on Blue, Rae Ellen Bichelle Thu, 13 Nov 2014 18:40:32 GMT
The Last of the Waterlilies Most of the colorful leaves have fallen, the mums and fall gardens have been pulled out to make way for bulb plantings and the aquatic pools in the Heritage Garden have all been drained at CBG.  We have already had some snow flurries; winter is indeed around the corner.  Last week I was able to capture one last waterlily before they were pulled out.  Goodbye to another beautiful growing season; we now will bundle up to capture the winter landscapes and seek the warmth of the greenhouses in search of new things to photograph. 

WaterlilyWaterlily A couple of weeks ago I was able to capture the fleeting beauty of the Longwood Victoria Waterlily, a special treat blooming in the Heritage Garden aquatic gardens. These waterlilies are particularly beautiful and interesting to observe. You have to watch carefully to catch the blooming of these jewels because they only last a couple of days.  On the day before the plant blooms, a bud rises out of the water. At sunset of the first night the flower opens to reveal its glowing white petals.  At this stage it is a female seeking to be pollinated.  The Victoria's strong fragrance and glowing petals attract pollen-covered beetles. The beetles stay in the flower all night to feast on its nectar and at dawn the flower closes trapping the beetles inside to pollinate the flower. The fragrance disappears and at dusk the flower opens and releases the beetles. The Victoria is now a male and is pink in color. After this second night of blooming, the flower sinks into the water, allowing the seeds to mature. The Victoria is distinguishable by its amazing leaf pads.  Each plant displays several large, round pads. The surface of the leaves are very delicate but the ribs and large thorns on the underside of the leaf help provide protection. I find these beautiful aquatic plants fascinating and watch them carefully late in the summer for blooms.

Victoria WaterlilyVictoria Waterlily


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) waterlily longwood victoria waterlily heritage garden aquatic garden flower photography chicago botanic garden Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:55:59 GMT
Nature's Display of Color The fall colors have been at their peak this past week at the Garden.  Between bright contrasty light and several days of gray, rainy weather, it's been hard to capture the colors at their best.  On the days when landscape shots were less than ideal, I tried to capture some smaller, more intimate garden scenes, eliminating the grey sky altogether. I love the benches of the Garden and decided it would be fun to start a whole series of images of my favorite spots to sit in the Garden. 

English Walled Garden in FallEnglish Walled Garden in Fall Garden Bench in FallGarden Bench in Fall The colors of the Japanese Islands are always beautiful. I love the many shades of green mixed with the reds, yellow and oranges of fall. 

Japanese Islands in FallJapanese Islands in Fall Japanese Garden in FallJapanese Garden in Fall One of my favorite views in fall is of Spider Island with its yellow birches and all the surrounding colorful maples. If the water is calm enough you get beautiful reflections in the water.    Color of FallColor of Fall Spider Island in FallSpider Island in Fall I love that nature gives us this dazzling display of color before the whites and greys of winter appear.  Even though we all complain about the long Chicago winters, I wouldn't trade the change of seasons - the exhilaration of spring and fall, the lushness of summer are all appreciated so much more after or in anticipation of a long winter.  Winter brings its own unique beauty and peacefulness. Let's just hope it's not so bitterly cold this winter that we can get out and enjoy the beauty of winter. Meanwhile, I'll focus on enjoying every last moment of nature's bold display of color, the crispness in the air and the crunch of leaves under my feet.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, fall color, maples, birches, landscape photography, Japanese Islands, Spider Island, benches of the garden Wed, 22 Oct 2014 04:12:41 GMT
This is the Week for Fall Color If you want to catch the fall color at its peak, this is the week to get to the Chicago Botanic Garden!  This photograph of the Circle Garden was taken late last week.  I wanted to catch the Circle Garden at its glory with those beautiful, blazing maples as a backdrop.  I love this view from the Circle Garden in the fall.  I look forward to it every year. As you can see, there are still plenty of flowers and fall plantings to photograph but the real scene-stealers this week are the trees.  Get there and enjoy the color!

Early morning in the Circle Garden

Circle Garden in FallCircle Garden in Fall

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Circle Garden, fall, maples, fall color, landscape photography, garden photography Wed, 15 Oct 2014 18:58:23 GMT
Fall Unfolding Hello, October! Fall is quickly unfolding here in the Chicago area.  The maples in my yard are turning brilliant colors of red, orange and yellow and other trees will soon follow. The predictions indicate that there will be a brilliant show of color this year and peak color should hit around mid-October.

Maple LeafMaple Leaf As the colors of fall unfold, I become more and more interested in capturing the colors in landscape shots, seeing the bigger picture.  My usual focus on close up or macro photography begins to shift.  While we are waiting for the colors to more fully emerge, however, I still have my head in the flowers.  There are many beautiful flowers still in bloom at The Chicago Botanic Garden.  One of my favorite late bloomers is the Japanese Anemone.

Japanese AnemoneJapanese Anemone This anemone was captured in the English Walled Garden using a wide aperture of 3.2.  It's a flower that works well captured in a softer focus way. Another little surprise of fall is the Autumn Crocus.  We expect to see crocuses in the early spring, one of the first flowers to emerge in March and April, but it's always fun to anticipate the appearance of the lovely, soft little crocuses of fall.  The Graham Bulb Garden has been full of them. This one was captured after its morning watering, again with a wide aperture of 4.5, focusing on the water droplets on the outer petals.  

Autumn CrocusAutumn Crocus The water lilies and lotuses have continued to bloom in the Heritage Garden and the Graham Bulb Garden but they will soon be gone as the colder weather approaches.

WaterlilyWaterlily Lotus Bud OpeningLotus Bud Opening Last but not least, the dahlias in the Bulb Garden are continuing to bloom and will be beautiful to photograph until the first significant cold snap.  Last fall I was photographing beautiful dahlias one day at the Garden, the temperature dropped that night and frost appeared, and when I returned to the Garden for more shots the next day, the dahlias were completely limp and faded.

'Bahama Mama' Dahlia'Bahama Mama' Dahlia This past weekend at CBG the Central States Dahlia Society had their annual show.  The room was filled with 100's of varieties of dahlias, of all colors and sizes. It was a flower photographer's dream...well, except for one thing - the lighting was dismal.  Because it was too crowded to use a tripod I was forced to photograph at high ISOs and shoot at wider apertures to allow more light into the lens.  If life gives you lemons, make lemonade...right?!  I used this opportunity to do a lot of softer focus images.

DahliaDahlia Dahlia CurlsDahlia Curls DahliaDahlia One of the few higher aperture images I had success with.



[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, fall, fall color, maple leaf, Japanese Anemone, Autumn Crocus, water lilies, lotus flowers, dahlias, Central States Dahlia Society, flower photography, macro photography Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:49:07 GMT
First Day of Fall Today marks the first day of fall and it definitely feels like fall in Chicago.  There is a pleasant chill in the air, the trees are beginning to change and the fall gardens have been planted at Chicago Botanic Garden.  We know fall has arrived when the mums, asters, cabbages, kale, and colorful grasses begin to replace the summer flower gardens. I look forward to capturing the colors, patterns and textures of the season in the coming weeks.  The mum display in the Crescent Garden is particularly colorful this year.

Fall in the Crescent GardenFall in the Crescent Garden

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Crescent Garden, fall, mums, fall color Tue, 23 Sep 2014 03:11:24 GMT
A Labor of Love Happy Labor Day to all!  I'm spending this rainy Labor Day catching up on a long overdue blog post, continued processing on the many photos I've shot over the summer, not to mention a much-needed cleaning out of my photo files to make room for lots of new files as fall approaches. Today marks the last day for the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at CBG, another sign that summer is almost over. It has truly been a labor of love to spend time each week photographing in the exhibit.  Unlike the previous two years where the plant life and the butterflies began to wane slightly about mid-August, this year the exhibit has remained lush and full of new butterflies until the very end. We had a cooler than usual August this summer and just enough rain to keep everything blooming and beautiful. A bit of warmer weather two weeks ago encouraged the final emergence of many new butterflies in the pupa emergence room. Patrick and staff had their biggest release of the summer - about 75 butterflies released in one day - so there were plenty of beautiful butterflies to photograph until the very end. Spending time with these magical creatures, learning about new species and watching their behavior remains one of the highlights of summer photography for me.  This summer I was able to share that magic with the many people who signed up for our very successful private butterfly shoots through the Out of Chicago community.

Large Tiger Butterfly

Large TigerLarge Tiger Flame Bordered Charaxes - a real stunner!

Flame Bordered CharaxesFlame Bordered Charaxes Emerald Swallowtail or Banded Peacock - always a favorite among visitors and photographers.

Emerald SwallowtailEmerald Swallowtail Tiger Longwing on colorful Lantana

Tiger LongwingTiger Longwing      Male Mocker Swallowtail - the Mockers remain one of the most fascinating of species for me.  Read a bit about them here.

Mocker Swallowtail - MaleMocker Swallowtail - Male Beautiful patterning of the Buckeye, a butterfly sometimes seen in our region

BuckeyeBuckeye And lastly this Zebra Longwing is dedicated to one of my favorite people in the world, Courtney Quigley.  It is her favorite butterfly and she loves it because it is so familial -  always flying and resting in a group or family.  I am so sad that Courtney has recently left CBG and her job as Exhibition Manager, but happy for her and her family to begin a new and exciting adventure living in Spain as her husband takes a Navy assignment there. Courtney is one of those special people I have met and feel a great connection with - her passion, energy, intelligence and positive view of the world make her a delight to be around.  It was such a pleasure to work with her on the 'Nature in View' exhibit for the Garden Photographic Society, my work with the butterflies, and other projects that Courtney and I have collaborated on.  She will be dearly missed at CBG by so many people and I know there won't be a time I walk the grounds of the Garden without thinking of her.  Thank you, Courtney, for your friendship, your support and your belief in my work...and thank you for sharing your passion for butterflies with me.  I know our paths will continue to cross - you are not to be forgotten.  If you haven't listened to the podcast Chris Smith and I did with Courtney this summer at the Garden, don't miss it here.   Courtney was a wonderful ambassador for the Garden and her knowledge about the natural world is beyond impressive.

Zebra LongwingZebra Longwing        

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterflies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, Large Tiger Butterfly, Zebra Longwing, Emerald Swallowtail, Buckeye, Mocker Swallowtail, Tiger Longwing, Courtney Quigley Mon, 01 Sep 2014 17:09:20 GMT
10 Tips for Photographing Butterflies This past two weeks Chris Smith and I have organized and run two private photo shoots at the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at the Chicago Botanic Garden for the 'Out of Chicago' community. I came up with a list of 10 tips for shooting butterflies in the exhibit but many of these tips can also be applied to shooting butterflies in your home gardens or outdoors at CBG.  My butterfly garden at home has been busy with monarchs feeding on the milkweed and Tiger Swallowtails enjoying the butterfly bushes.  I was able to capture this beautiful Tiger Swallowtail yesterday.

Tiger SwallowtailTiger Swallowtail

10 Tips for Photographing Butterflies

  1. Take a few minutes to look around and observe the butterflies when you enter the exhibit. You will quickly learn which flowers are most popular and begin to anticipate where they might land and where some butterflies like to hang out. In the early morning they are less active making them easier to photograph. Watch each and every step you take; butterflies love to rest on the path and have even been seen mating on the path!

  2. Look for butterflies without damaged or tattered wings and those resting on flowers. Include the flower in your composition.

  3. If you have Image Stabilization on your lens, use it if hand-holding!

  4. Use aperture priority so that you can change your aperture quickly as the situation demands. With my 100mm macro I find that f7.1 - f11 are usually the best apertures to get the whole butterfly in focus but keep the background blurred. If I am including a flower in the photograph and need more depth of field to get the flower in focus, I will increase the aperture number accordingly. It will take some experimenting to get to know what apertures work best with your lens.

  5. Make sure your shutter speed is high enough to avoid blurring if you are hand-holding your camera. You may have to increase your ISO to accommodate a higher shutter speed with the appropriate aperture. You are also allowed to use flash within the exhibit if you want to use it to illuminate the butterfly or darken your background.

  6. Hold your camera parallel to the entire length of the butterfly to ensure getting the eyes, body and wings in focus. I move my focus point to the head/eye of the butterfly. This is the most critical part to have sharply in focus. Don't forget to make sure the antennae are included in your shot.

  7. Pay attention to your background while composing your shot. Sometimes moving a tiny bit will eliminate a bright spot or create a less distracting background.

  8. If you are using a macro lens move in close and do some close-ups of the head, eyes and proboscis or the patterns on the wings.

  9. Experiment with catching butterflies in flight and dreamier shots with wide apertures.

  10. Don't forget to check out the action in the pupa emergence room window. You might catch a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis or a butterfly with its underside pressed up against the glass.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterflies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, butterfly photography, tips for photographing butterflies, butterfly garden, Chris Smith, Out of Chicago Tue, 12 Aug 2014 22:58:33 GMT
Article on Photographing Aquatic Blooms at CBG White Lotus with BeeWhite Lotus with Bee Enjoy my latest article on

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) out of chicago chicago botanic garden aquatic blooms waterlilies lotus flowers nature photography Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:18:12 GMT
Summer at the Chicago Botanic Garden podcast on 'Out of Chicago' Malachite on ViburnumMalachite on Viburnum I am so honored to have done a podcast with my friend Chris Smith from 'Out of Chicago.'  First, Chris and I talk with Courtney Quigley, who manages all the exhibitions at CBG, most importantly the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit.  It's a fascinating interview that will reveal all sorts of wonderful facts about the exhibit and the butterflies that inhabit it, as well as important information about the decline in the monarch population. Then Chris and I talk about how to photograph butterflies and some of the highlights to photograph in the Garden in the summer. Listen to the podcast here.  All of Chris's great podcasts are available for free on iTunes and you will find them by searching "Out of Chicago" in the iTunes store.  

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterflies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, podcast, Out of Chicago, Chris Smith, Courtney Quigley, butterfly photography, photographing the Chicago Botanic Garden Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:20:00 GMT
Private Photo Shoot at Butterflies and Blooms MonarchMonarch

Join Chris Smith and me on Wednesday, August 6th for a private photo shoot at the Chicago Botanic Garden Butterflies and Blooms exhibition. We are renting out the space before it opens from 8-9:30am. Join us at 7:45am outside the exhibition for some quick butterfly photography tips from me before we start the shoot. You can stay longer after the exhibit opens to the public to continue shooting (no tripods allowed after opening, however).  Cost of shoot gets you into the Garden as well, so stay all day and photograph the lush and beautiful gardens!

To cover the cost of the rental, it is only $20 a person to join the group, which we will limit to 15 people. If you would like to join us, email Chris at for payment details. Here's the link to the the announcement on Chris Smith's 'Out of Chicago' website.

Here are a few of the butterflies I've been photographing recently in the exhibit...

Pink Rose Butterfly

Pink RosePink Rose

Male Mocker Swallowtail Butterfly

Mocker Swallowtail - MaleMocker Swallowtail - Male

White Morpho Butterfly White MorphoWhite Morpho Common Lacewing Butterfly


Pearl Charaxes Butterfly Pearl CharaxesPearl Charaxes

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterflies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, butterfly photography, Out of Chicago, Chris Smith, Monarch, Pink Rose, White Morpho, Common Lacewing, Pearl Charaxes Fri, 25 Jul 2014 17:40:16 GMT
Timing is Everything I love photographing the water lilies and lotuses in the summer.  The water lilies are constantly in bloom through the summer and even into the early fall, but catching a lotus in bloom and in its prime entails a little bit of luck and timing. The blooms only seem to last a couple of days.  The other complicating factor is that water lilies and lotuses open mid-morning and by then the light can be harsh and unflattering.  It is important to wait for a day with cloud cover.  I was fighting a nasty summer cold last week and between that and the holiday weekend I missed almost a week of being at the Garden.  By Wednesday, I refused to stay in the house one more day and headed to the Garden to shoot.  The sky was a beautiful blue and filled with fluffy clouds, the temps in the 70's - a perfect day for shooting water lilies and lotuses.  I found this perfect lotus in full bloom in the Aquatic Garden of the Bulb Garden.  It was the subject of much adoration; many people stopped to look at it and photograph it and there was much oohing and aahing about its beauty. By the end of the afternoon I came home with 300+ images and almost each one worthy of keeping.  It took me longer to decide which of the bunch to process than it did to process them, and because the light was so magical they needed very little processing.

Here are a few from my lucky day...

LotusLotus LotusLotus   LotusLotus

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lotus, Chicago Botanic Garden, Bulb Garden, floral photography Sun, 13 Jul 2014 03:23:32 GMT
Dahlias in Bloom Last summer I fell in love with dahlias.  I just couldn't get enough of photographing all the beautiful varieties at CBG.  The wonderful thing about dahlias is they bloom all summer and into the fall and there are already a good variety to photograph at the Garden this summer.  They provide such vibrant bursts of color and I love photographing them up close to capture the array of colors nestled in the petals of the flower.  With all the rain and fog we have had over the last week, the flowers have been covered with raindrops or dew early in the morning, making them even more beautiful subjects to photograph.

Early morning dew on a 'Jitterbug' Dahlia in the Bulb Garden.

Morning Dew on 'Jitterbug' DahliaMorning Dew on 'Jitterbug' Dahlia   Dahlias are perfect flowers for trying some soft focus images.

Soft DahliaSoft Dahlia The center of this 'Jitterbug' Dahlia is just beginning to open.

'Jitterbug' Dahlia'Jitterbug' Dahlia 'Bahama Mama' Dahlias are planted in the north bed of the Bulb Garden.

'Bahama Mama' Dahlia'Bahama Mama' Dahlia This 'Bashful' Dahlia, which seems far from being bashful with its bold color, is part of the displays around the fountain in the Circle Garden. 

'Bashful' Dahlia'Bashful' Dahlia

The vibrant 'Diva' Dahlias can be found in the beds in front of the Visitor's Center and in the north bed of the Bulb Garden.

'Diva' Dahlia'Diva' Dahlia

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, dahlias, Jitterbug Dahlia, Bashful Dahlia, Bahama Mama Dahlia, Diva Dahila, macro photography, flower photography, Circle Garden, Bulb Garden Fri, 27 Jun 2014 02:59:42 GMT
Atlas Moths The Atlas moths at the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at CBG are among the most fascinating in the collection of butterflies and moths.  This past week there were four moths (3 females and 1 male) in the exhibit, and the male was mating with one of the females.  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.

Female Atlas moth, recently emerged from the cocoon and waiting for a mate.

Atlas Moth - FemaleAtlas Moth - Female

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. 

Female Atlas mating with male - the male is smaller in size than the female but note the larger antennae.

Mating Atlas Moths - Female above, Male belowMating Atlas Moths - Female above, Male below    Close up of the female Atlas - note the transparent triangular windows on the wings. Atlas Moth - FemaleAtlas Moth - Female Close up of another female in the exhibit.  Her antennae are thinner than the male's.

Atlas Moth - FemaleAtlas Moth - Female The eggs of the Atlas moth.

Atlas Moth EggsAtlas Moth Eggs

In 10 - 14 days a dusty green caterpillar emerges from the egg.

Atlas Moth CaterpillarAtlas Moth Caterpillar Due to USDA regulations, when eggs or caterpillars are found within the exhibit they must be destroyed.  The exhibit could not begin to support the eating habits of these large and hungry caterpillars.  USDA regulations dictate that only the pupae and the emerging butterflies or moths are raised within the exhibit. 

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Butterflies and Blooms, Atlas Moths, Atlas moth eggs, Atlas moth caterpillar, butterfly photography, macro photography Fri, 13 Jun 2014 02:52:46 GMT
Butterflies and Blooms Article on 'Out of Chicago' Blue Morpho Butterfly

Blue MorphoBlue Morpho

Enjoy my latest article on 'Out of Chicago' about the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at Chicago Botanic Garden.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Blue Morpho Butterfly, Butterflies and Blooms, butterfly photography Tue, 10 Jun 2014 19:10:47 GMT
Butterflies and Blooms is Now Open The Butterflies and Blooms exhibit, one of my favorite things at the Chicago Botanic Garden, opened this past weekend.  The exhibit will remain open through the summer months until September 1st.  It is open daily, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., weather permitting.  The 2,800-square-foot white mesh enclosure is located on the lawn of the Learning Campus at the north end of the Garden. As you stroll through the beautiful garden within the enclosure you will see 100's of butterflies, species native to South America, Asia, North America, and Africa, as well as those native to Illinois.  For more information about the exhibit, visit CBG's website:  For tips on photographing butterflies, please read my article at

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Butterflies and Blooms, malachite butterfly, butterfly photography Wed, 28 May 2014 15:47:57 GMT
It's Tulip Time at the Garden Tulips in the Circle GardenTulips in the Circle Garden It's my favorite time of year to photograph and the tulip displays at the Chicago Botanic Garden are spectacular! I've been photographing the tulips in the side "secret" gardens of the Circle Garden all week.  They were closed during our cloudy, misty and chilly weather of last week, but I love photographing them before they burst open, capturing the interesting curves and variations of the outer petals.  On Saturday, the sun came out and the temperatures rose to the mid 60's and many of the tulips opened to greet the sun.  I braved the crowds at the Garden and am so glad I did because I was greeted by the magnificent display pictured above.  I waited patiently for a moment when the crowds cleared to snap this photo.  Many of the other tulip displays around the Garden are beginning to open and will be at their prime in the coming week - the main displays in the Circle Garden, the Crescent Garden, the Sensory Garden, the Bulb Garden all have tulips opening. Please read my article on Photographing Tulips at the Chicago Botanic Garden posted on my friend Chris Smith's website Out of Chicago.

Here are a few of the tulips I captured in the side gardens of the Circle Garden during the last week...

TulipTulip Tulip with an AttitudeTulip with an Attitude Graceful CurvesGraceful Curves Raindrop on TulipRaindrop on Tulip TulipTulip        

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden circle garden tulips spring macro photography Tue, 06 May 2014 02:36:09 GMT
Photographing Tulips at The Chicago Botanic Garden Tulip with RaindropsTulip with Raindrops The tulips all over the Garden are starting to open.  This is my favorite time of year to photograph and the tulip displays promise to be spectacular this year at the Garden. I have a new article Photographing Tulips at The Chicago Botanic Garden posted on my friend Chris Smith's Out of Chicago website. We all deserve some sunshine and beautiful color after our long, long winter.  Come to the Garden and enjoy the beauty!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, tulips, photographing tulips, macro photography, spring, Out of Chicago, Chris Smith Fri, 02 May 2014 18:17:58 GMT
The Crocuses of Evening Island The long Chicago winter has finally come to an end.  We were all beginning to wonder if spring would ever come after one of the coldest and longest winters in Chicago history.  But as it does every year, the temperature finally rose, the snow melted, the ground thawed and the beginning of spring was welcomed by all. Slowly but surely the snowdrops, the crocuses, dwarf irises and other flowers that herald the beginning of spring popped through the ground.  What a welcome sight for winter-weary eyes and especially for those of us who love being outside and photographing nature.  Spring, with it's renewal of life, is my favorite time of year to photograph. It has been wonderful to see the Chicago Botanic Garden come to life once again, the horticulturalists and staff busy sprucing up and planting each and every area of the Garden.  A part of the Garden that I love this time of year is Evening Island; the hillside is blanketed in white, yellow and purple crocuses. It is one of the few areas of the Garden where you can actually walk among the flowers rather than having to stay on the path, which makes it ideal for photographing these beautiful flowers up close.  There is ample space between groupings of crocuses to set up your tripod and gear or even lay on your belly in the grass and photograph hand-held, being careful not to sit or lay on any delicate flowers.  I usually like to photograph crocuses with my tripod to ensure getting the stamen of the flower in perfect focus.  I have a tripod (Gitzo GT2531EX) that allows me to get my camera right down level with the ground.  I most often shoot crocuses with a wide aperture which serves to blur the brown grass and produce a dreamier effect. I also enjoy shooting the inner parts of the flower at high apertures to achieve sharp focus throughout the flower and accentuate the beautiful patterns of the flower petals.  My favorite of the crocuses are the 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus, which have beautiful patterning on the petals. The complimentary colors of the bright orange stamens and the purple/blue petals are pleasing to the eye.  Here are a number of the many images I have shot over the past week. I said to myself several times that, even if I didn't get one good photo, I sure enjoyed sitting in the sunshine among these beautiful flowers! Thank goodness for spring! 

'Remebrance' Dutch Crocus nestled among Yellow Mammoth Crocus...

'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus A peek inside...

'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus A few more crocus portraits...

'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus 'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus'Remembrance' Dutch Crocus     

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Evening Island, Remembrance Dutch Crocus, Yellow Mammoth Crocus, spring, flower photography, cocuses, macro photography Sun, 13 Apr 2014 21:09:34 GMT
Garden Photographic Society's 'Nature in View' Exhibit Pink Petals AnemonePink Petals Anemone

For more than thirty years, the Garden Photographic Society has been meeting at the Chicago Botanic Garden, providing members a special place to pursue their passion for photographing nature.  We invite you to visit the Garden in the coming weeks to watch spring finally unfold and to stop in Joutras Gallery, located in Regenstein Center, to see the Garden Photographic Society's annual 'Nature in View' exhibit.  The exhibition features photographs of the natural world, many of which were taken at the Garden.  The exhibit opens Saturday, March 22 and runs through Sunday, April 6.  The exhibit is free to the public but the Chicago Botanic Garden does charge non-members for parking.  Members can park for free.

Please come and see the exhibit!  I have four pieces in the show, one of which is pictured above.  Bring your camera as spring is just beginning to unfold.  The snowdrops are popping through the ground and soon crocus and tulips will follow.  I've been so busy these past months, I just haven't been able to do blog updates but I promise to blog more as spring comes to the Garden.  It was a long and cold winter here in Chicago and we are more than ready for the blessings of spring!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Thu, 20 Mar 2014 20:25:28 GMT
The Arid Greenhouse at Chicago Botanic Garden The Arid Greenhouse has quickly become one of my favorite areas of the Chicago Botanic Garden.  I have to admit that I wasn't all that into cacti and other succulents until I began to spend more and more time exploring this fascinating greenhouse.  With the challenge of shooting and posting a photograph every day for my 365 project in patterns and textures, I became a frequent visitor to the greenhouse, especially once the weather was too cold to spend much time outdoors. It has been one of the coldest and snowiest winters we've had in Chicago in a long time, forcing us photo enthusiasts to get creative in finding things to shoot indoors.   It's amazing to me that as many times as I've been in the Arid Greenhouse, I never tire of it and I always find something new and interesting to photograph and learn about. Learning a bit about these plants and their adaptations to an environment of extremes has been fascinating.  The unusual shapes, shallow root systems, waxy coatings and thorns or spines are all ways the plants have adapted to the harsh conditions of the desert and enable them to store and conserve water. Ranges in temperature from searing heat during the day to a 40 degree drop at night, rocky, sandy soil and precious little water have all forced cacti and succulents to not only adapt but thrive in their unique environment.  

In this environment of extremes cacti and other succulents produce some of the most exquisite blooms I have ever seen.  Last summer, a sudden downpour forced me into the greenhouses.  In the Arid Greenhouse the 'Apricot Glow' cacti were in full bloom.  If it hadn't rained that day I might have completely missed this spectacular display because their blooms only last a couple of days. Because I had just started my 365 project around that time, I quickly discovered what a treasure trove of interesting patterns and textures this greenhouse provides.

'Apricot Glow' Cactus

Echinopsis 'Apricot Glow'Echinopsis 'Apricot Glow' The tiny and colorful flowers of Echeveria

Dainty Flower of the EcheveriaDainty Flower of the Echeveria The Artichoke Agave is one of my favorite plants in the Arid Greenhouse.  Its sharp colorful thorns and spines provide protection against thirsty animals and the pattern of leaves direct water downward to the root system. As the waxy leaves unfold they leave interesting imprints.

Artichoke AgaveArtichoke Agave   Artichoke AgaveArtichoke Agave Another form of agave, the Thread Leaf Agave, is a plant I had never noticed before in the greenhouse until recently. It makes for a very interesting photo using a shallow depth of field.

Thread Leaf AgaveThread Leaf Agave In fact, the Arid Greenhouse is a perfect place to experiment with wide open apertures - the light and color variations in the greenhouse do well with this style. 

'Red Glow' Echeveria

Ruffles - 'Red Glow' EcheveriaRuffles - 'Red Glow' Echeveria My macro lens often helps me see things I might otherwise miss with the naked eye.  When I shot this Silver Jade Plant I was focusing on the colorful pop of pink and yellow on the leaf's edge.  When I got it up on my computer screen I was surprised to see the subtle dot pattern as well. 

Silver Jade PlantSilver Jade Plant One of my favorite textures I discovered was a fuzzy form of Echeveria. If you don't get down low to ground you might miss its wonderful texture. Because the plant was not labeled, I nicknamed it "Fuzzy Wuzzy."   

Fuzzy WuzzyFuzzy Wuzzy   Groupings of cacti make for some interesting compositions.

Cactus PatternsCactus Patterns well as close-ups to show off the tiny flowers and spiny textures of the cacti.

Cactus FlowerCactus Flower There are plants in bloom throughout the year in the Arid Greenhouse.  The opening of the flower of the Royal Paintbrush was fun to witness a couple of months ago. 

Peek-a-Boo - Royal PaintbrushPeek-a-Boo - Royal Paintbrush This is a small sampling of the many photos I've taken in the Arid Greenhouse; many more are posted in my 365 Project and throughout my website.  I highly recommend a trip to all the Greenhouses at CBG but take some extra time to explore the unique environment of the Arid Greenhouse.  It is filled with opportunities for wonderful photos and you'll stay toasty warm while you explore.  Just be aware that all the Greenhouses are currently only available to those who hold tickets for the Orchid Show (February 15 - March 16th) - all the more reason to visit!  Visit CBG's website for more info on the Orchid Show and read my previous post on photographing orchids.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) chicago botanic garden arid greenhouse 'apricot glow' cacti echeveria 'red glow' echeveria royal paintbrush silver jade plant thread leaf agave artichoke agave cacti Wed, 12 Feb 2014 20:10:05 GMT
Photographing Orchids I know my blog posts have been few and far between this fall and winter but my 365 project photographing patterns and textures has kept me quite occupied each and every day.  It has been challenging to find subjects to shoot during this bitterly cold winter we are having, but I am enjoying the project immensely and it has spurred so much growth for me. More on that later.  Starved for flowers to shoot this time of year I have developed an interest in photographing orchids, which are full of interesting patterns and textures and readily available this time of year.  There are a number of places in our area to shoot orchids - the Tropical Greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lincoln Park Conservatory and, best yet, Hausermann's, a huge supplier of orchids in Villa Park, just south of O'Hare airport. Last week I visited Hausermann's with my photo friend, Tony Reynes, and we had a wonderful time shooting many different orchids from all over the store.  It is a huge greenhouse with 1000's of orchids of every variety.  Their prices are reasonable if you want to purchase orchids to bring home to shoot and enjoy, as well.

In 3 weeks the big Orchid Show will open at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  It runs from February 15 - March 16 and promises to be a spectacular display of orchids.  Regenstein Center, the Greenhouses and Greenhouse Gallery will all be filled with 10,000 beautiful and unusual orchids.  The exhibit is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily and admission is $8 for members/$10 nonmembers. For more information on the show visit the CBG website  The Garden is also offering a two session class on February 20 and 27, Photographing Orchids, taught by Linda Oyama Bryan. Check it out at  (Just a note - the greenhouses will have very limited public access from Jan 27th until the opening of the show while staff is busy setting up.)

Orchids are difficult to photograph for a number of reasons.  Indoors the lighting can be challenging - glass greenhouses can have bright contrasty light and orchid shows are often in darker rooms with limited light. Because they grow in clusters and in close proximity to other orchids or flowers, it is hard to isolate the orchid from others and eliminate distracting backgrounds.  If I choose to shoot orchids with every part in sharp focus, I use a very small aperture, going as high as f25 depending on how much I need in focus.  Apertures this high require a tripod which is not always easy to maneuver in a small space or greenhouse.  Using a black backdrop is ideal but not always appropriate when photographing orchids outside of home.  A flash, powered down and held off camera can be helpful in both illuminating the inner structure of the orchid and darkening the background.  It is often hard to find a good composition for an orchid or grouping of orchids.  Take your time and experiment.  As with anything, the more you practice and experiment, the better you will get.

Here is a favorite from a recent trip to the Lincoln Park Conservatory - a Lady Slipper Orchid. 

In this second image of the same orchid, I darkened the background in post processing which accentuates the orchid but, unfortunately, makes it feel like it is floating, but I do like the drama it creates.

This is an orchid grouping taken recently in the Tropical Greenhouse at CBG.

Phalaenopsis OrchidsPhalaenopsis Orchids An orchid close-up using a shallower depth of field and hand held at CBG

Some beauties I captured at Hausermann's this week..

I bought this orchid at Hausermann's and brought it home to shoot. I love that the grouping shows orchids in all stages of development, from tightly

closed bud to fully open flowers.

It is beautiful to shoot orchids with a very shallow depth of field, as well. I stopped at the Butterfly House, part of the Missouri Botanical Garden, during a recent trip to Missouri and photographed this Japanese Tree Orchid in such a way.

Lastly, here's a wild and crazy close-up of a Lady Slipper



[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Photographing Orchids, orchids, Lady Slipper, Chicago Botanic Garden, Orchid Show at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lincoln Park Conservatory, Hausermann's Sun, 26 Jan 2014 22:46:39 GMT
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year Warmest wishes for a happy holiday season and a happy 2014!  If you haven't had a chance to visit the greenhouses or Wonderland Express at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the holiday exhibits will be up until January 5th.  It's warm inside and the displays are beautiful!

Holiday Display 2013Holiday Display 2013



[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Wonderland Express, holiday displays, Greenhouses, poinsettias Fri, 27 Dec 2013 17:51:25 GMT
Holiday Amaryllis Display Many people do not visit the Garden in the winter months but the Greenhouses are in full bloom year-round and are a wonderful place to visit and photograph during the cold winter months. The Greenhouses are all decked out for the holidays and Wonderland Express is open and drawing its usual crowds in Regenstein Center.  Each of the three greenhouses has its own holiday personality. The Tropical Greenhouse is full of several varieties of poinsettias and has spectacular orbs of poinsettias hanging from the ceiling.  The Arid Greenhouse has pots of beautiful red Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana. In the Greenhouse Gallery area holiday trees have been constructed out of bromeliads - a sight not to be missed.  CBG staff members have created beautiful holiday wreaths also on display in the Greenhouse Gallery. The stunning displays of Amalfi Amaryllis in the Semitropical Greenhouse, however, are my personal favorite.  

Amalfi AmaryllisAmalfi Amaryllis   Amalfi AmaryllisAmalfi Amaryllis

Amalfi AmaryllisAmalfi Amaryllis

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, holiday displays, Arid Greenhouse, Kalanchoe Blossfeldiana, Tropical Greenhouse, poinsettia, Semitropical Greenhouse, Amalfi Amaryllis Thu, 05 Dec 2013 05:12:51 GMT
Fall at the Chicago Botanic Garden - New Post on "Out of Chicago" Evening Island in FallEvening Island in Fall I have a new article "Fall at the Chicago Botanic Garden" posted on the Out of Chicago website today. Take a look and enjoy the fall colors!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, fall photography, autumn photography, HDR, Out of Chicago Tue, 22 Oct 2013 15:19:54 GMT
Sunrise at Chicago Botanic Garden On Saturday the Garden held a sunrise photo walk.  I had never been to one of the Garden's monthly photo walks even though I'm a huge fan of Robin Carlson, the Garden's staff photographer, who leads the walks.  The regular walks are usually held at 9 a.m. on the first Saturday of the month and are known to draw huge crowds. I know my way around the Garden quite well and prefer to shoot on my own or in small groups.  I decided to try the sunrise walk, however, thinking it would only draw a hardy few willing to meet at 5:45 a.m.  About 20 of us hardy souls gathered and walked to the grassy knoll overlooking the Japanese Gardens.  It was still quite dark when we got there but gradually the sky began to take on beautiful color and light up.  It was so peaceful and exhilarating to watch the clouds, the colors of the morning sky and finally the sun peek from behind the tree line. A wonderful experience and one that I hope the Garden repeats. The first three shots were 5 exposures each combined in HDR software, Photomatix, with additional processing in Lightroom and Photoshop.  The last image is only one exposure processed in Lightroom and Photoshop.

Sunrise over Japanese IslandSunrise over Japanese Island Sunrise over Japanese IslandSunrise over Japanese Island Sunrise over Japanese IslandSunrise over Japanese Island Sunrise over Japanese IslandSunrise over Japanese Island


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, sunrise, Japanese Garden, Fall, HDR, Photo Walk Mon, 07 Oct 2013 20:57:35 GMT
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument While the Garden is in transition between summer and fall, I thought it would be fun to feature some posts about my travels over the summer.  Several dear friends from high school and I spent a week in Colorado and Santa Fe in August.  I had visited Santa Fe previously and fell in love with the culture, the arts, the food and the land.  One quickly learns that the air, the sky, the light are different in New Mexico.  It is no wonder artists like Georgia O'Keeffe were drawn there and called it home after experiencing the seduction of New Mexico.  Georgia O'Keeffe said, "It's something that's in the air - it's different.  The sky is different, the wind is different."  Georgia O'Keefe is without a doubt my favorite artist; her work has deeply influenced my photography.  It is no wonder I would be awestruck by the place she called home for the later years in her life.  One of my favorite places near Santa Fe to hike - one of my favorite places in the world - is Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.  Kasha-Katuwe means "white cliffs" in the traditional Pueblo language Keresan. Tent Rocks is located about 40 miles south of Santa Fe.  To get there you drive through tribal land that is still occupied by the ancestors of the Pueblo de Cochiti. It was designated a national monument in 2001 and up until then it was relatively unknown.  The first time I hiked at Tent Rocks we saw only a few other people on the trails. This time it was much more crowded but it did not detract from our experience of this magnificent place.  The Canyon trail is a 1.5 mile trek into a narrow canyon with a steep 630 foot climb to the mesa top for breathtaking views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez and Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande Valley.  It is not a difficult hike at all but one does have to take into account the heat in the summer as well as the altitude and prepare with plenty of water.  It is best to hike Tent Rocks in the morning before it is too hot and the possibility of afternoon storms might hamper your plans.  Flash floods in the slot canyons are not uncommon, as well as lightning strikes on the canyon walls.  I limited my camera gear to a small backpack and used my 24-105mm lens exclusively.  A tripod would have been nice for doing some HDR shots but I did not want the extra weight because of the heat and climb.

As you begin the trail you are greeted by the cone-shaped tent rock formations that are the result of volcanic eruptions that occurred 6 to 7 million years ago. Perched on many of the "hoodoos" are boulder caps that protect the softer pumice and tuff below.  The sky is an unbelievable shade of intense blue and the clouds on this particular day were the very typical New Mexico clouds I have come to love.

The layering of volcanic material resulted in the bands of gray, beige and pink-colored rock formations. Wind and water have eroded these deposits over time creating the canyons, arroyos and unique formations that make Tent Rocks an interesting outdoor laboratory for the study of geologic processes.

Narrow slot canyons are part of the trek through Tent Rocks and offer a respite from the hot sun and a nice cool breeze.

As you climb to the top of the mesa you are greeted by this magnificent view looking down into the canyon.

At the mesa top, which is 6,800 feet above sea level, you can see the beautiful views of the Sangre de Cristo, Jemez and Sandia Mountains and the Rio Grande Valley.  It's nice to sit on a rock and take it all in before you begin the descent back down.  You go back down the same trail you come up on, so you get to enjoy it all again in reverse. 

This photo of my friend Joan pretty much sums up the exhiliration of the views, the climb, being under that glorious New Mexican sky!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Kashe-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, Santa Fe, New Mexico, hiking, geologic formations, hoodoos Sat, 28 Sep 2013 19:53:34 GMT
The End of Summer Labor Day has come and gone and summer is winding down.  There are hints of Fall in the air.  This past week I took a couple of early evening walks at the Garden. The temperature was cool and the light beautiful. I was reminded that Fall is approaching and the days are getting shorter when I walked through the Visitor's Center at 7:00 p.m. one night and heard the person at the desk say to someone, "the Garden closes in 45 minutes at sunset." All summer we have had the luxury of staying at the Garden as late as 9:00 p.m.  Despite the signs that Fall is approaching, the summer gardens are at their glory - lush and beautiful, filled with butterflies and bees.  I am trying to savor every last bit of summer and all its flowers because I know it is only a matter of days/weeks until the summer gardens will be pulled out and the Fall gardens installed.  I do love Fall but it is always bittersweet to say goodbye to summer.

The Crescent Garden is especially beautiful right now.  


I have taken so many photographs of zinnias and dahlias this summer.  They have been especially beautiful this year.  I love photographing them from all different angles.  A few of these I posted on my 365 project blog because the patterns and textures were so striking. There is a colorful mix of zinnias called 'Candy Scabiosa Mix' planted in the center of the Circle Garden surrounding the fountain and I particularly love photographing this type of zinnia. This white zinnia is among them and I captured it in the glow of early evening light.

And this one was bent at the stalk and turned upside down revealing it's unique patterns.

Perfect little dew drops on this dahlia were the result of getting to the Garden early one cool morning.

A Dahlia in the Bulb Garden soaking up the last bit of sun in the evening.

A colorful dahlia in the English Walled Garden.

Another sign that summer is over is the closing of the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit.  I enjoyed visiting this exhibit almost every week this summer and helping the staff document all the butterflies.  I was able to make one last visit before I left on vacation in late August.  Congratulations to the the Garden on another successful year with the exhibit.  I will certainly look forward to its reopening next summer!

A Large Tiger Butterfly - I especially love the yellow tips on its antennae.

Large Tiger

An Emperor Swallowtail

Emperor Swallowtail

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Crescent Garden, Circle Garden, Dahlia, Zinnia, Butterflies and Blooms, Large Tiger Butterfly, Emperor Swallowtail Butterfly Fri, 06 Sep 2013 02:22:29 GMT
Waterlilies and Lotus Flowers in the Heritage Garden In the summer I always look forward to the start of the blooming season for the waterlilies and lotuses in late June and early July.  The displays have been particularly beautiful in the Heritage Garden.  There are also waterlilies and lotuses in the Aquatic Garden by the Bulb Garden but those displays have not done well this year and many of the blooms have already been pulled out.  The Heritage Garden has had many different types of water lilies and lotuses in a variety of colors, all healthy and beautiful.  The waterlilies typically open mid-morning and stay open until late afternoon.  It is important to shoot waterlilies in more subdued light, which is more difficult to get mid-day.  I try to wait for days with good cloud cover.  I use my 70-200mm lens to get in as close to the flowers as possible and try to shoot the flowers from many different angles.  With the right light, proper exposure and a good angle you can darken the water, eliminating distracting details and leading the eye right to the main subject, creating a portrait with more impact and emotion.  When shooting I am constantly checking for highlights and blown out areas and use exposure compensation to adjust my exposure as needed.  Including the beautiful patterned lily pads and reflections in the water make for a more interesting portrait.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) heritage garden lotus waterlilies chicago botanic garden Sat, 17 Aug 2013 03:11:20 GMT
The Circle Garden One of my very favorite gardens at the Chicago Botanic Garden is the Circle Garden.  The Circle Garden, named because its outer boundary forms a circle, features a dancing fountain in the center and four identical beds of flowers in each corner.  There are two secret gardens connected to the central gardens by curved arbors. Each season the plantings of the Circle Garden change.  Spring brings beds of colorful tulips and mixes of annuals, scrubs and flowering trees.  The summer plantings are bold and colorful - tall sunflowers, canna lilies, zinnias, dahlias, snapdragons, rudbeckia and salvia, to name a few.  It is lush and bursting with every color of the rainbow.  The hummingbirds and butterflies frequent these gardens in the late summer. When fall arrives the beds will be full of mums, marigolds, decorative cabbages, grasses and other fall plantings. It is a garden that never disappoints; in fact, it will take your breath away.  It is equally fun to photograph the variety of flowers up close or put on a wide angle lens and capture the beauty of the whole garden.


Dahlia with early morning dew


Bold and colorful dahlia   



[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Circle Garden, dancing fountain, secret gardens, zinnias, dahlias, coreopsis Sun, 04 Aug 2013 05:06:30 GMT
A Few More Butterflies Tuesday morning is my favorite time to visit the butterfly exhibit and see what's new.  Kay and Linda, the volunteers who tend the plants before the exhibit opens are busy at work and always helpful and enthusiastic about pointing out butterflies and sharing plant information.  I have learned so much about the butterflies and the plants they love.  I've been donating many of my butterfly images to the Garden for use in the exhibit and for the note cards sold online.  Check out the note cards and invitations on the CBG website and order a set (here)! You can custom pick from many different images.

Here a few of the butterflies from my last couple of visits.

The always-beautiful Lacewings...

Lacewing Leopard Lacewing - Male

A Blue-Spotted Charaxes

Blue-Spotted Charaxes

A Scarlet Mormon

Scarlet Mormon

A Great Yellow Mormon

Great Yellow Mormon

A Pink Rose

Pink Rose

A Silver-Spotted Flambeau

Silver-Spotted Flambeau

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterlies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, Lacewing, Blue-Spotted Charaxes, Scarlet Mormon, Pink Rose, Silver-Spotted Flambeau Thu, 18 Jul 2013 01:18:54 GMT
Early Morning Dew Drops Two mornings in a row I met my friend Tony Reynes at the Garden to shoot at 6 a.m. We had so much fun the first day, we vowed to come back a second day.  Tony has always been a morning person and I'm slowly but surely learning the wonderful advantages of coming to the Garden early in the morning...with a little help from a cup of coffee to get me going.  Very few people other than staff and a few early walkers are at the Garden at 6 a.m.  The light is yummy and, because it was cooler on the two mornings we photographed, the dew on the flowers and plants was gorgeous. There was mist on the lake, the birds were singing their hearts out and it was so peaceful and quiet.  Perfect!  Here a few of the dew-laden beauties I captured.

A hibiscus in the Heritage Garden...

Dew Drops on HibiscusDew Drops on Hibiscus

A freshly watered 'Apple Blossom' dahlia in the Bulb Garden.

Bloodflower bathed in dew in the Enabling Garden.

A zinnia with tiny beads of dew in the Circle Garden.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) bloodflower bulb garden circle garden dew on flowers heritage garden hibiscus macro photography zinnia apple blossom dahlia chicago botanic garden Sat, 13 Jul 2013 22:26:52 GMT
New Butterflies at the Butterflies and Blooms Exhibit In my last post about the Mocker Swallowtails (here) I commented about how hard it was to photograph these butterflies with their wings open so you might see the variation in the female's patterning.  I went back to the exhibit later in the week and was able to get a few shots of the female.

Mocker Swallowtail - female

Here is a resting closed female, but you can see a hint of the inner wings to see the bright orange variation.  They are such fascinating butterflies in their ability to mimic up to 14 other species.

Mocker Swallowtail - female

During last week's visit with the butterflies, I hit the jackpot in catching a Blue Morpho with wings open.  They rarely rest with their wings open but this one was not only posing for me, but chose a most beautiful setting of primary colors to show off its blue coloring.

A new species to the exhibit is the Crimson Banded Black, a beautiful butterfly.


One of the most beautiful butterflies, new this year, is the Chinese Yellow Swallowtail.

Chinese Yellow Swallowtail

The exhibit is full of Zebra Longwings.

Zebra Longwing

The Banded Peacock, also known as the Emerald Swallowtail, is another beauty.

Banded Peacock

A tiny but colorful butterfly that had just emerged last week is the Orange Emigrant.

Orange Emigrant

A Doris Longwing

Doris Longwing

I've been having fun catching butterflies from different angles; this Gulf Fritilary didn't mind the close encounter with my macro lens.

Gulf Fritillary

and a Mormon...

Emerald Swallowtail/Banded Peacock

a Lacewing...

Leopard Lacewing - Male

and a Golden Helicon...

Tiger Longwing/Golden Helicon

Lastly, I never tire of photographing the Paper Kites.  Last week they were sitting quietly in the serviceberry tree among all the colorful berries.

Paper Kite

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) butterflies and blooms blue morpho mocker swallowtail chinese yellow swallowtail banded peacock crimson banded black zebra longwing doris longwing orange emigrant Tue, 09 Jul 2013 02:56:47 GMT
Purple Coneflowers in Dixon Prairie One night last week my husband came to the Garden with me to have dinner at the cafe's outdoor grill and to take a long walk out to Dixon Prairie before sunset.  The prairie is in full bloom with many wildflowers and native plants. It is a peaceful place filled with birds, insects and, in the coming months, butterflies. During the day the open spaces of the prairie can be very hot, with little shade from the sun, but an early evening visit is the perfect time to spend some time exploring the prairie.  I found some patches of purple coneflowers and was mesmerized by their beauty in the soft evening light.  I just love the way the colors pop in the subdued light. Perfect evening!


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Dixon Prairie, purple coneflowers, evening light Mon, 01 Jul 2013 03:27:13 GMT
More and More Butterflies! Not only has the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit at CBG been better than ever this year but I have really enjoyed helping Courtney Quigley and the exhibit team by photographing the new species each week and adding my work to the database of images for the exhibit.  Courtney has an unbelievable knowledge of butterflies and it is fun learning new things each time I visit.  She is always eager to share her knowledge and enthusiasm about the butterflies.  Yesterday I was dodging raindrops but the subdued light was wonderful for photographing some of the new friends in the exhibit.  Courtney was very excited about a new species that had just emerged from their pupas - the Mocker Swallowtail, a fascinating example of how nature adapts to survive.  The Mocker Swallowtails are from Sub-Saharan Africa.  The male Mocker Swallowtail is monomorphic and always looks the same with the typical "tails" of the swallowtail. The females are polymorphic, which means they all look slightly different and they can mimic up to 17 other species of butterflies from Africa.  She mimics butterflies that are poisonous or distasteful to predators, which helps her survive. The females rarely develop the tails typical of the males.  The Mockers are very active, making them difficult to photograph and even harder to catch with wings open.  This behavior is also a defense against being eaten by birds in the wild.

A male Mocker Swallowtail momentarily perched on an 'Autumn Brilliance' Serviceberry tree. Those berries are delicious, by the way - Courtney had us sample them!

Mocker Swallowtail - Male Mocker Swallowtail - Male

The female's inner wings are all sorts of variations of white, black and orange, with no tails.

Mocker Swallowtail - Female

Last week when I visited the exhibit I saw for the first time what has to be my new favorite butterfly, the White Peacock.  Beautiful!


Love the colors of the Gulf Fritillary.

Gulf Fritillary

Another new species from last week's visit, the Sergeant.

Common Sergeant

An open Sergeant

Common Sergeant

Last year I didn't pay as much attention to the butterflies emerging in the pupa emergence room, but this year I am trying to capture them as they come out. 

An Orchard Swallowtail

Just emerged - Orchard Swallowtail

Ready for release into the exhibit

Orchard Swallowtail - Just Emerged

During yesterday's visit, the White Morphos were just coming out.  Can't wait to see these beauties flying about the exhibit!

White Morpho

Please visit my butterfly gallery to see more butterfly images.  I can't begin to put them all in a blog post!

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterflies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, Mocker Swallowtail, Gulf Fritillary, White Peacock, White Morpho, Orchard Swallowtail, Autumn Brilliance Serviceberry Wed, 26 Jun 2013 19:25:38 GMT
Having Fun with the Lensbaby Composer About a month ago I decided rather impulsively to buy a Lensbaby Composer.  This was not a huge investment - the lens and a fabulous book by Corey Hilz was $179 from B&H. I thought it would be a fun lens to play with over the summer.  It is not a lens that you can master overnight and I have only begun to get the grasp of it; it will take a bit of practice, particularly to get the focus right.  If you don't know anything about the Lensbaby line of lenses, visit their website at:  The Composer is part of the Lensbaby series of SLR lenses with special effects.  Basically, it brings one area of the photo into sharp focus, surrounded by gradually increasing blur.  You simply tilt the lens to a desired angle and focus manually.  Sounds easy, but it's tricky to get that sweet spot of focus just right.  You change the aperture of the lens by inserting metal discs that fit onto the lens with a handy little magnetic tool.  It can be used in many types of photography, including portrait, landscape and nature photography. My first try with the lens produced the following photos of the field of poppies in the English Oak Meadow at the Garden.  The poppies have since been removed to make way for a summer display of flowers.  I did these hand-held but I think the Lensbaby will be easier to use on a tripod because of the need for manual focus.  Using Live View will help with more effective focusing.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Lensbaby Composer, Corey Hilz, Chicago Botanic Garden, poppies, English Oak Meadow Mon, 24 Jun 2013 18:10:36 GMT
First Day of Summer Today marks the summer solstice, the first day of summer.  I've been to the Garden almost every day between butterfly visits and photographing summer blooms.  Many of the summer plantings at the Garden have not matured and filled in yet, but one can find plenty of things to photograph all over the Garden.  The Rose Garden is gorgeous now and I have learned through the years that the soft light of the early evening is just perfect for photographing roses.  I caught this one with lingering raindrops from an afternoon shower.   

The Circle Garden is a favorite garden during the summer but it's still early for catching it at its glory.  I have, however, enjoyed photographing some of the newly planted zinnias during this past week.  They are one of my favorite summer flowers and I am always drawn to their interesting centers and vibrant colors.


In the side "secret" gardens within the Circle Garden there is an interesting agave, the 'Blue Flame' century plant.  I was having fun photographing it with a wide open aperture and capturing the lines and blurred soft colors of the plant and plantings around it.  It was almost sunset and the sun just happened to catch the edge of one gracefully curved leaf.  It was one of those lucky photos that just took my breath away.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Rose Garden, roses, Circle Garden, zinnias, Blue Flame Century Plant Fri, 21 Jun 2013 19:28:14 GMT
Butterflies and Blooms at Chicago Botanic Garden The Butterflies and Blooms exhibit is back and better than ever at CBG.  People who know me know I love butterflies and photographing them.  I think my fascination with them began when I started teaching 3-year-olds the life cycle of the butterfly every spring.  We would raise butterflies in the classroom and then let them go towards the end of the school year.  When you begin to see the world through the eyes of a preschooler, it reawakens that sense of wonder about nature and its creatures.  The more I read about butterflies and the more I photographed the varieties, even those found in my own gardens at home, I was hooked.  They are gorgeous, interesting creatures and their progression from egg to caterpillar to pupa to butterfly is magical to witness.  For more info on Butterflies and Blooms and on how to photograph butterflies, read my article on the 'Out of Chicago' website posted today.

Here are a few of the images I have taken since the exhibit opened two weeks ago.


Red Lacewing


My lucky day...I was able to catch a Red Lacewing with wings open!

Red Lacewing                                       

A Paper Kite

Paper Kite              

A Blue Tiger, just released and letting his wings dry, so he was very cooperative with the camera.

Blue Tiger     

Best of Atlas Moth!  He is huge! His sole purpose once he emerges from the pupa is to mate.  He only lives 1-2 weeks, has no mouth parts and lives off his stored fat. Atlas Moth

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Butterflies and Blooms, Chicago Botanic Garden, Red Lacewing, Paper Kite, Blue Tiger, Atlas Moth, Out of Chicago Mon, 10 Jun 2013 22:01:38 GMT
Cactus Flowers I normally don't spend much time in the greenhouses when the weather is nice and there is so much outside to photograph and enjoy at the Garden.  Over the weekend chilly temps and drizzles sent me into the Arid Greenhouse in search of things to shoot and I was delighted to find the cactus in full bloom.  I had stopped in there the day before in search of inspiration for my 365 project and all the buds were tightly closed.  I had no idea that those buds would produce such beautiful flowers within 24 hours.  Believe me, from now on I will be watching for those blooms this time of year.  They were spectacular!  Within a few days they were all closed and shriveled up, so it is an event you have to catch in a two day period to get the blooms at their best.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden Cactus Flowers Arid Greenhouse Thu, 06 Jun 2013 18:09:13 GMT
Goodbye to Spring The tulips are all gone and most of the flowering trees have dropped their blossoms at the Garden. This past week there was a flurry of activity as staff and volunteers pulled out spring gardens and planted displays for summer.  It's always bittersweet to see beautiful displays being pulled up and changed. I get attached to certain gardens but it always means that something equally beautiful is about to appear. I know the first day of summer doesn't officially start until June 21st, but I always think of the beginning of June as the start of summer.  Yesterday I started a fun new project I've been thinking about doing for years - a 365 project centered around capturing the patterns and textures of nature.  I'll be taking and posting a photo each day for a full 365 days!  Wish me luck!  Sounds easy but I know from others that have done 365 projects that it's challenging to keep up the pace, but it will inevitably lead to a lot of growth as a photographer.  Here's the link to the special page on this website:

I haven't been posting to my blog as often as I like lately - travels and having kids home has kept me very busy - but here are a few images that I've captured at the Garden over the last few weeks.

The apple blossoms were lovely this year. were the pear blossoms

I almost missed the azaleas in the Japanese Garden...beautiful as always!

A few last tulips - these were in pots on the Rose Garden Terrace. I love the soft pink and the way these two were snuggled together so gracefully. I just never tire of photographing tulips - their beautiful textures, colors and the way the light illuminates them. 

These beauties - Snowdrop Anemone - caught my eye in the Waterfall Garden.

English daisies in the Heritage Garden after their morning watering.

The irises are in bloom now - these were captured in the Landscape Garden near the waterfall.

Butterflies and Blooms is open at the Garden now.  I've been once and will be back again tomorrow.  Next post will be about butterflies!


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, apple blossoms, pear blossoms, Japanese Garden, azeleas, iris, english daisies, tulips, Snowdrop Anemone Sun, 02 Jun 2013 16:47:39 GMT
A Walk in the Woods One area of the Chicago Botanic Garden I had never explored before is McDonald Woods, the wooded area at the eastern borders of the Garden. Last week Chris Smith and I met at the Garden very early on one of our 80 degree days to spend some time exploring the woods and search for wildflowers. McDonald Woods is a 100 acre remnant of what used to be a much larger oak woodland that covered this area 100 years ago.  The Garden is working to restore the woods to its presettlement state.  It is home to a vast number of animals, insects, birds and native plants.  May is the perfect time to see wildflowers in the woods, as they bloom while the sun can still reach them and fade as the trees in the woods come to full leaf and blot out the sun.

 White trout lily




Swamp buttercup                                                


Capturing the feel of the woods in bloom with a panning shot.


Another wooded area of the Garden that I love and visit almost every time I go to the Garden is the Sensory Garden Woods.  It is full of wildflowers now but my favorite spring bloom in these woods is the bleeding heart at the north end of the woods.

This year I enjoyed photographing the marsh marigold blooming in the Sensory Garden Woods.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, McDonald Woods, trillium, white trout lily, swamp buttercup, oak woodland, wildflowers, Sensory Garden woods, bleeding heart, marsh marigold Fri, 24 May 2013 14:28:33 GMT
My Turn... I am blessed with lots of wonderful friends and the past year has brought so many new friends into my life through my photography.  One of those new friends is Don Burkett.  I met him on the "Out of Chicago" community through another wonderful friend, Chris Smith. Like me, Don writes articles for Chris's website. Before meeting Don, I started following his blog and have thoroughly enjoyed following all his posts, but especially those about his adorable beagle, Brody.   This is no ordinary dog, folks - he's amazing - and I haven't even met him!  I finally met Don this past weekend when we met at the Garden to shoot.  It's such a treat to photograph with people that are equally passionate about photography, to share ideas, see their perspective and share in the beauty of the Garden.  It was a fun morning!  That afternoon, Don sent me the following link to his website: 

Profiling Light

Thanks, Don! This really touched me and made my day!  Take some time to explore Don's website while you're there and get acquainted with the cutest dog ever, Brody.  I'm backlogged with photos to organize and process, so I'm not quite as organized as Don with his photos from Saturday, but here's an 'Orange Princess' tulip for you, Don...

And don't forget, you can never have too many photos of tulips...or water lilies...or butterflies...or...




[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, tulips, macro photography, Sensory Garden, Orange Princess tulip, Don Burkett, Out of Chicago Tue, 14 May 2013 16:30:09 GMT
New Post on "Out of Chicago" - Spring at the Chicago Botanic Garden Tulips in Bloom in the Crescent GardenTulips in Bloom in the Crescent Garden

Read my new post on photographing spring at the Chicago Botanic Garden on the "Out of Chicago" website.



[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Out of Chicago, spring photography, Crescent Garden, Bulb Garden, Circle Garden, Sensory and Enabling Garden, tulips, English Oak Meadow, Heritage Garden Sat, 11 May 2013 03:49:46 GMT
Tulip Time It seems that everywhere you turn there are tulips in bloom at the every size, variety and color you can imagine.  It's a feast for the eyes!  Tulips happen to be a favorite flower and I never tire of photographing them. 

The Crescent Garden tulips - all 26,000 of them in shades of purple and cream - are in full bloom now.  I've been watching them for weeks and patiently waiting. Last year the lake was drained as they were doing shoreline restoration and it was hard to get a good landscape shot of the beds.  This year, we have the lake back again and I always love this view of the tulip beds with the yellow willows, blue sky and water in the background. Frequently you will see the swans on the far island.  They must be nesting there this spring.

A few tulip portraits from around the Garden...


Another stunning garden full of tulips is the Circle Garden. This garden features a dancing fountain in the middle with four identical beds of spring tulips in pink and yellow, as well as beautiful combinations of annuals, scrubs and flowering trees.  There are two "secret" gardens off to each side (in this photo, one is straight ahead).

Ironically, my favorite tulips this year are in the far parking lots and they are known as Tulipa 'Ad Rem.'  They fill the dividers between the road and the lots. Stunning colors! I caught them as the early morning sun was backlighting them.

The tulips in the Sensory Garden are always unusual and beautiful in their color combinations.  I plan to do a post dedicated to the Sensory Garden soon - it is probably my favorite garden within the garden, especially this time of year. 

Lastly, tulips with raindrops are always fun to catch. These were taken very early in the morning after a night rain.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, tulips, Crescent Garden, Circle Garden, tulips with raindrops, Tulipa 'Ad Rem,' flower photography, macro photography, HDR Thu, 09 May 2013 19:45:04 GMT
The Garden is in Bloom The rain and flooding of two weeks ago certainly affected the Garden but you would never know it now. The Garden bounced back quickly and is more beautiful than ever.  So many flowers are in bloom in all corners of the Garden and the tulips are quickly opening with the warm weather we had this week. I've been busy shooting for my Advanced Portfolio class and enjoying it immensely.  I'm trying to capture the blooms of spring in a dreamier, more abstract way, using a wide open aperture.  Here's a bit of what's been blooming over the past weeks at the Garden.

One of the earlier flowers in the Bulb Garden is glory-of-the-snow, both the blue and pale pink/purple variety.  It is tiny but hardy and you have to get in close to see the beautiful glistening texture and detail of these flowers.

I adore tulips and the Garden has so many varieties and colors and every year the displays are different.  These are a few of the earlier bloomers in the Bulb Garden. The colors just amaze me.

This is one of the Bronze Charm tulips I photographed a couple of weeks ago, but this time it's completely soft focus, so it's all about the colors both in the tulip itself and the background. 

Lastly, a lupine in bloom in the Heritage Garden. 

Lots more images to come but get to the Garden and enjoy the beauty firsthand.  Stop in Joutras Gallery in Regenstein Center and see the Garden Photographic Society's "Nature in View" show.  The show opened on Saturday and will be in the gallery until May 18th.  I am honored to have four images in the show and to be showing my work alongside such a talented group of photographers.  For more information visit the CBG website:


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Bulb Garden, Heritage Garden, spring blooms, tulips, glory-in-the-snow, lupine, Nature in View exhibition, Joutras Gallery Garden Photographic Society Thu, 02 May 2013 19:05:19 GMT
Moon Over Baha'i On a very cold February full-moon night I had the pleasure of shooting Baha'i Temple in Wilmette with my friend Chris Smith.  I wanted to go back (preferably on a warmer night) to shoot Baha'i again when the lights were illuminating the inside of the temple and the reflecting pools were filled with water again.  This past Thursday night seemed like the perfect night.  Thursday was the night of the "Pink Moon."  The moon was full but it was also pink in the post-sunset hour.  I completely missed seeing it earlier but went to Baha'i around 11 p.m. to watch the full moon rise in the sky.  My son is home with us for a short time after his adventure of crossing the Pacific from Mexico to Australia in his 30 ft. sailboat.  I have grabbed every precious minute with him while he is home and I knew if I suggested a late night adventure to Baha'i he would be game.  It was peaceful and beautiful at the temple at that hour and, most importantly, a very comfortable temperature to enjoy the view and photograph.  Below are a few of the shots I got that night.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Baha'i Temple, Wilmette, Pink Moon, reflecting pools, HDR photography Sun, 28 Apr 2013 23:21:22 GMT
Poppies and More The Garden is coming alive this week! The Garden staff and volunteers are busy planting all over the Garden and each day there are new displays of flowers appearing. One of my favorite yearly displays is already in - the colorful mix of Iceland Poppies in the English Oak Meadow next to the English Walled Garden. Poppies are the perfect subject for playing with a shallow depth of field, isolating one flower to be in focus and letting the rest fall out of focus. The colors this year are stunning! 

But of course, who can resist a close-up of a poppy.  I love the paper-like crinkles of their petals.

I went back to see the 'Bronze Charm' tulips in the Bulb Garden.  In my previous post, the tulips had been tightly closed due to the chilly, overcast weather.  Yesterday I found them fully open, basking in the sun.  

A patch of colorful Ranunculus is planted in Heritage Garden.  I happened to catch this one just as a few raindrops were beginning to fall.  

In the Circle Garden the tulips are getting taller every day and will soon begin to open but while we wait, the Garden staff has planted a display of beautiful 'Supernova Pink' Polianthus Primrose.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Iceland Poppies, English Oak Meadow, Bulb Garden, Bronze Charm Tulip, Ranunulus, Supernova Pink Polianthus Primrose, spring flowers, macro photography Thu, 18 Apr 2013 03:43:00 GMT
First Tulips The first tulips are blooming at the Garden.  They are in the Bulb Garden and are called 'Bronze Charm' tulips.  As you enter the Bulb Garden, they are along the path to the left.  Because it was a bit chilly and overcast when I was at the Garden, they were tightly closed. Their colors are stunning and I enjoyed photographing them with a wide aperture to create a watercolor-like portrait with focus along a petal edge or the tip of the tulip.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, Bulb Garden, spring flowers, tulips, macro photography, Bronze Charm tulip Mon, 15 Apr 2013 16:50:12 GMT
Irises Another early blooming flower is the dwarf iris and you will see a number of varieties of them in various places around the Garden.  I love to read about the various flowers blooming at the Garden in the "What's in Bloom" section of the CBG website.  You learn all sorts of interesting facts about the flowers.  The irises have a splotch of white with a strip of yellow known as the "nectar guide."  It acts to attract bees and other nectar gathering insects onto the "landing strip" and guide them inside the flower to the nectar and pollen.  The insects carry the pollen from one flower to another, causing pollination of the flowers.  Clever! The most beautiful spot to see the irises is in the wooded area of the Sensory Garden.   

The 'Harmony' irises are nestled in between the Whitespire birches in the woods.


[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) Chicago Botanic Garden, dwarf irises, Harmony irises, whitespire birches, spring flowers, macro photography Fri, 12 Apr 2013 23:25:40 GMT
Snowdrops Snowdrops are the first flowers to appear in the late winter/early spring and they are such a sight for winter weary eyes.  You often see them as early as late January or February poking up through the snow cover. Despite their delicate appearance they are hardy little flowers that can withstand dips in temperature.  They remain closed like little drops of white milk until the sun warms them and then they open to reveal a bell-shaped flower with 3 outer petals arching over 3 inner petals.  They are all over the Garden now, but my favorite patches to photograph are lining the steps in the Waterfall Garden. You can sit on the steps and get right up close to capture their delicate-looking texture and lines and the glistening white of the petals. This particular variety of snowdrop is called 'Atkinsii Snowdrop' and it is in the amaryllis family  I adore these little gems of spring.

[email protected] (ANNE BELMONT PHOTOGRAPHY) snowdrops waterfall garden chicago botanic garden atkinsee snowdrop spring flowers Wed, 10 Apr 2013 15:31:38 GMT
Crocus Portraits The crocuses all over the Garden are in full bloom.  My favorite place to photograph them is on Evening Island where they blanket the grassy hillside in purple, yellow and white.  The grass allows you to get right down on your belly and photograph them straight on at ground level.  My brand new tripod arrived last week and this weekend I finally had a chance to try it out.  It's a Gitzo GT2531EX with a Really Right Stuff ball head, if you are interested, and it's amazing for macro work because you can get it down to within an inch of the ground...perfect for crocuses and other low growing plants and flowers.  I'm taking an advanced portfolio class in the Garden photography program right now and I am focusing on capturing the spring blooms in a more dreamy, abstract way, using the widest apertures my macro lenses will allow. Using shallow depth of field, selective focus and blurring creates a more impressionistic portrait of the flower.  Crocuses are ideal for this kind of shooting and that shallow depth of field takes care of blurring all the dead, brown grass the crocuses are blooming in - not so attractive.  I am particularly drawn to the purple flowers.  They have such lovely patterns on their petals and I love the way the golden stamens and purple petals are complimentary colors.


Here are a few of my crocus portraits...