Sunday, July 26, 2009

Veronica spicata up close and personal

This plant is more commonly known around here as speedwell, or in this case spike speedwell, since it grows in long thin spikes. There are a few varieties in my garden, of which this is the happiest, an early starter and genteel self-seeder that never presumes, but seems to appear only in places where it knows it will grow well, and where it looks great.

These flowers are tiny, each spreading out to a maximum diameter of maybe 5 or 6 mm, wide open. So photographing them has been a test of my steadiness of hand and of my camera's zoom capacities (augmented by the Raynox super macro conversion lens). As you approach infinity zoom the depth of field (what you can focus on) gets narrower and narrower, to the point, as you'll see below, that it can focus only on a few cells of one of the closed anthers. This is frustrating but also, artistically, in my opinion, quite kewl. I like how the backgrounds fade into smears of colour in these super macro shots.


Closed flower buds...















One begins to open...

The developing anthers peek out...


A little more...



Here they are fully extended, but still closed:




And a closeup. When the anthers do unfurl, as you can see in the image heading this post, the pollen is white and the individual grains are minute. In order to get any kind of focus at all--since even my heartbeat makes the camera shake out of focus when the zoom is so far extended--I have to shoot at an extremely high shutter speed in bright sunlight. The pollen reflects the sunlight and comes out as a blurry blaze of white, so despite strenuous efforts, I wasn't able to capture the kind of pollen detail as with the lilies and calendula. Too bad! Maybe if I had a tripod...



The stigma develops after the stamens. Oh, hello there!



Here's a closeup of the inside of the flower, which looks like a cellophane membrane in the photograph above and cannot be seen at all with the naked eye. The critters actually swim around in it, resurfacing here and there:



See?

If you like critters, click on the image of the flower stalk at the beginning of the post and see how many you can find.

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