06.18.17: Fleabane buds

Buds of a common fleabane wildflower hang from a stem in Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio. 


Technical information

May 13, 2006,
9:12 a.m.

40°6’59” N,
82°57'40" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 20D

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L, Canon 2x teleconverter (600mm) 


1/320th second


I’m quick to admit that the vast majority of flower photos in my files are what I call “happy accidents,” scenes captured when I’m out photographing wildlife.

Instead of using a macro (or close-up) lens, a tripod and flash units to provide controlled lighting, things I would do if I had planned to photograph flowers, I use the long, heavy 600 millimeter super telephoto lens and a 1.4x teleconverter that I carry when photographing wildlife.  It’s ideal for wildlife photos, but it means I’m shooting close-up photos of flowers from more than 15 feet away. It’s not the typical way to shoot flower photos, but it works.

This photo of common fleabane buds in a field is one of those happy accidents. 

I was hiking through a field looking for birds when a couple of spots of magenta in a sea of green caught my attention. This was in 2006, before I had purchased my prized 600mm, so I was carrying a 300mm telephoto lens with a 2x teleconverter to provide a total focal length of 600mm.

When I looked at the scene through the camera’s viewfinder I really liked how the bud’s yellow-green stem and magenta tips were isolated against the darker green background. I grabbed a shot, then continued with my hike.

Later, when I saw the image on the computer when I was sorting through the morning’s shoot, I was intrigued by the photo’s minimalistic feel created by the use of two colors and no background clutter. The magenta tips on the buds create an eye magnet, drawing the viewer’s attention.

Then I had to figure out what kind of flower I had photographed. That took some time on Google.

The best that I can determine is that these are common fleabane buds. Common fleabane, sometimes called Philadelphia fleabane, is a wildflower found along roadsides, in fields and in thickets all over the United States. Each head, when bloomed, has hundreds of yellow or pink florets extending from a yellow center. Some of the flowers I’ve seen in our area seem to go beyond pink, almost to a deep magenta or at times a blueish pink, so I’m assuming the deeper color is caused by the type of soil in the area.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.