07 February 2009

Mt Cook buttercup

Ranunculus lyallii
The Mt Cook buttercup, Ranunculus lyallii, used to be commonly called the Mt Cook lily, despite being unrelated to lilies (and being widespread in New Zealand's Southern Alps; i.e. not restricted to the Aoraki – Mt Cook area). It's a spectacular flower, particularly when one encounters it in abundance in its alpine habitat. I photographed this on the slopes of Avalanche Peak in Arthurs Pass National Park.

All content © 2009 Pete McGregor

9 comments:

Zhoen said...

Something about the whites of alpine flowers, they seem to glow. Columbine in the Rockies has the same appeal for me.

Michael said...

They remind me of Icelandic Poppies somehow (grow like weeds here).

This shot teaches me to be more careful with depth of field in my close work. Shallow is good, but it has to be deep enough to capture all the important elements.

robin andrea said...

Such a beautiful photo, Pete. Those white petals are lit so perfectly. There is dimensionality that really conveys their space.

Relatively Retiring said...

These look so similar to the cultivar known as Japanese Anemone in UK.
Alpine flowers are so very special in so many ways.

pohanginapete said...

Zhoen, I don't know columbine, but we have other white, alpine flowers here and I know what you mean; how they catch the eye.

Michael, yes, they do resemble Icelandic poppies. I hadn't noticed that. Regarding the d.o.f. — for these kinds of photos it doesn't take much to get it wrong. Usually a good idea to bracket (although I didn't for this one).

Robin Andrea, thanks. They're very commonly photographed as a wide angle shot with the flowers in the foreground in full sun and out-of-focus mountains in the background, but this was tucked away under a snow tussock. It was the light that attracted me.

RR, I found a few photos of anemones on the web and I see what you mean. Fascinating, also, to think that something so apparently delicate and fragile thrives in such a demanding environment.

Greg Brave said...

Hello Pete,
With all the comments here being so emotional, I thought to comment more from photographic point of view on this photo.
In my opinion the background is distracting a little. The fact that
the most central flower is totally in shade is also takes away from the photograph. I would prefer the flowers to be better-lit, and maybe taken from a slightly different angle.

pohanginapete said...

Greg, thanks for the constructive thoughts. Your comment about the background made me look closely, and two things sprang to mind: first, because the texture's so different, the distraction is less than if it had been, say, a jumble of out-of-focus rocks (which admittedly doesn't negate your argument); and second, the strong lines actually direct my eye towards the flowers (which, for me, does mitigate the potential for distraction). I suppose it works differently for other people, though, and ultimately, if you find the background distracting, then, ... well, it's distracting for you!

I did have two things in mind when I photographed this. First, I wanted to get away from the somewhat done-to-death wide angle photo I described in my reply to Robin Andrea, but (second) I wanted to retain a sense of the environment in which these flowers are found.

I'm pretty happy with the lighting (including the central flower), but I'm sure it could be better! Thanks for the critique, Greg.

Greg Brave said...

Actually the strong lines of the background lead away from the flowers due to the sense of direction they give...

butuki said...

My first impression was of people in white suits at a beach party... (^J^)/"

Something dignified and... may I use the word? It seems to fit perfectly... gay about the image. And there is a floating feeling enhanced by the grass in the background.

I disagree with the assessment of both the radiating grass and the lighting of the flowers. As Pete stated the grass does visually lead the eye toward the flowers, while at the same time bringing the eye out toward the landscape, strongly fitting the flowers into their environment. The lighting of the flowers works very well because it is subdued, not blindingly bright and there is a sense of the white being whiter by being subdued.

My one little suggestion would be to perhaps crop the dark left margin a little, to bring the edge of the flower in.