Wildflower Extravaganza!


The last few summers I have been working to improve my wildflower landscapes. My goal is to have the flowers in a scene for a sense of place, instead of isolating them for a portrait. Creating these kind of landscapes to my satisfaction is one of the more challenging goals I have assigned myself. Finding a good cluster of flowers that can be aligned with an interesting background, getting low to include some close up, while balancing on rocky uneven ground, and waiting for the wind to die down is just half the challenge! For the most part I use my wide 16-35mm because it focuses close and has good depth of field. Distance to subject is one of the factors that affects depth of field. So, when focusing so close it is impossible to get it all as sharp as I am aiming for in one click. To fix this I focus stack … one shot focused close, one or more in the middle and one in the distance. The shots below are anywhere from 2-5 shots layered and blended in post for acceptable sharpness throughout. A lot of photographers who do this kind of work use a tilt-shift lens which enables them to get everything in focus in one shot. Tilt-shift lenses are expensive and a little tricky to use too! I might find more wildflowers while out shooting, but at this point I am happy with my efforts. I picked my favorites to show, and archive for myself as well. There were many more that did not make the cut! Shot between June and July, I hope you enjoy my bigger than usual post … a wildflower extravaganza!

Lupine and Mule's Ears grow along a fence line in Ouray County Colorado.

‘Flowers Along The Fence Line’ © Denise Bush
click here to view larger or order a print

Some pink paintbrush greets the morning high in an alpine basin.

‘Pink Paintbrush View’ © Denise Bush

Sneezeweed and lupine combine on a hill for a pretty combination of yellow and purple. Elephant's head provides a pink accent on the left.

‘Yellow & Purple Combo’ © Denise Bush

Lupine line a back mountain road in the San Juan Mountains.

‘Lupine Lined’ © Denise Bush

Lined with wildflowers a mountain cascade tumbles down the mountain feeding water to rivers below.

‘Wildflower Cascade’ © Denise Bush

The hills are aline in San Juan County, Colorado with displays of wildflowers including this King's Crown.

‘King’s Crown With A View’ © Denise Bush

Pink Paintbrush wildflowers like this spot, way uo high in a Colorado mountain basin.

‘Paintbrush Gathering’ © Denise Bush

Spring melt flows from the mountain tops, surrounded with a lovely natural garden along the way.

‘Nature’s Zen Garden’ © Denise Bush

A patch of lupine bloom along a mountain road, inviting a longer look.

‘Roadside Pretties’ © Denise Bush

Some Elephant's Head gather to eagerly greet Colorado's San Juan Mountain, morning sun! Elephent's Head or Elephantella grow in moist areas. The individual blossoms look like resemble the head and trunk of an elephant.

‘Elephant’s Head In Sun & Shade’ © Denise Bush

Here's a good look at how we find many of the wilflower meadows in the mountains of Colorado.

‘Assorted’ © Denise Bush

A wild primrose is sitting pretty beside a mountain waterfall.

‘Beside The Falls’ © Denise Bush

Columbine grace the Colorado high country with their beauty in July

‘Columbine Season’ © Denise Bush
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74 Responses to “Wildflower Extravaganza!”

  1. Stunning!

  2. Hey, where do you think you are, Texas? Kidding aside, these are gorgeous pictures of wildflowers, with the added benefit of mountains and waterfalls. You must be pleased to have accomplished your goal. What time span does this set of pictures cover?

    Like you, I occasionally put my 16-35mm to good use because of its close focus and intrinsically good depth of field. I’ve sometimes even used it for people, though you have to be careful because heads and faces will distort if they’re near the edge of the frame—unless distortion is what you’re after.

    • Thanks Steve. Mid June to the third week of July. There’s still some out there! And by the way … we never mistake Colorado for Texas! 😀

      • No, no one would mistake Colorado for Texas.
        By the way, there’s what may be a photographic Freudian slip in “I aim happy with my efforts,” but even if it was unintentional it’s such a good play on words I’d leave it—and if you did it on purpose, so much the better.

      • Not on purpose but thanks for the heads up!

  3. 7 Mary Ann Silvers

    Fabulous pictures. Harry and I enjoy them always. Hope you all are doing well.

    • Hi Mary Ann!!! We are doing well and hope you are too. I think of you often and will send you an email soon, assuming it’s still the same.

  4. Gorgeous photos, as usual. Like you, I think it is best to include the environment in wildflower photographs, rather than just the wildflowers and shooting with a wide angle gives the best depth of field. And what can be better than mountains, streams and waterfalls with wildflowers?

    Do you find it difficult to focus stack due to motion of the flowers? I seldom have shot wildflowers, when there is not some movement due to wind or even a slight breeze. I have an older 24mm tilt/shift lens and as you say it takes some effort to use one of these and I seldom have it with me, when in the field.

    • Hi Ken … glad you like! 🙂 Well, I don’t say it’s best to include flowers in a landscape but it’s what my goal was at this time. I may dust off my macro lens at some point and do the opposite but since landscapes are my thing this was my present goal. Yes … the flower movement is part of the challenge. I do go out very early for the soft light and shade and it is usually, but not always, less windy at that time. I boosted up my ISO to 400 when there was wind and I stack the files with PS aligning them, and then blend manually with masks.

  5. Wonderful shots, as usual, Denise.

  6. 13 Ken Curtis

    Stunningly beautiful. One of my favorite posts of yours.

  7. These are absolutely incredible captures and I love reading about your process. I can only imagine the number of shots that got tossed. All of that said I understand and truly appreciate your process and it is well worth it! Stunning!! My best to you! Have a great weekend!!

    • Thank you Kirt! You’d think that something as beautiful as wildflowers would be easy for me but I’ve had to work at it for the last few years.

      • I totally get what you go through, so I know how challenging it is to complete it to the look you want…..again, stunning!!

  8. Breathtaking!

  9. 20 bcplimpton

    Wow, what a wonderful collection of floral landscapes and only three with the “hand of man” apparent.

  10. Hey, these are just great, love them all. Sure beats humping around a savanna in the Pinelands looking for flowers, getting muddy and bitten to death.

    • I don’t miss the ticks, chiggers and mosquitos! I do watch out for bears as they are known to wander the basins early in the morning and may have cubs with them this time of year. Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment!

  11. Well! That’s a smashing success! Columbine Time is my favorite! Bravo!

  12. Columbine Season. 🙂

  13. Beautiful scenes and who could resist colorful flowers along side of great landscape background 🙂

  14. Focus stacking is a bit complicated to me, as usually I don’t bring tripods with me. I am not sure if the newer cameras with focus stacking capability require a tripod but to me it would be useful, in your case the technique you use is quite amazing, all looks so detailed and clear. Thank you, Denise, wonderful wild gardens.

    • Thanks Francis. I think you would still want to use a tripod with the cameras that have a focus stacking feature. The idea is that the exposures need to line up. It’s hard enough with the flowers blowing around using a tripod. You probably couldn’t hold it still enough for the number of exposures required.

  15. 32 Debra

    Love- “Flowers along the fence line” and”Wildflower cascade”!!

    • Thanks Debra!!! The 1st is my favorite and the 2nd one you mention below, Eliza likes! It helps me to know which are speaking to viewers.

  16. OMG, so gorgeous, Denise! LOVE these (hehe, no surprise, right? 😉 ).
    Standouts are: ‘Flowers Along The Fence Line’, ‘Wildflower Cascade’ and ‘Columbine Time.’ I want them as jigsaw puzzles to put together in the depths of winter. 🙂

    • Both ‘Fence Line’ and ‘Columbine Time’ are on my store site and available as puzzles. They just started offering them and I had already selected it as a product option for ‘Fence Line’ thinking the exact same thing! I hadn’t ever checked that before. You can see by clicking the link under each of those images. I’m glad you like them Eliza … yes, I might have guessed. 🙂

  17. Absolutely gorgeous captures, Denise! I love every one!!

  18. 39 Bonnie

    So beautiful. Love the Kings crown! I need that in my garden!

  19. Good Morning Looks like a booming year for those blossoms. I rather fancy the “Wildflower Cascade”. I also really like the flowing layers of “Assorted”. Super series.

    • Thanks Beth! It was fun to play beside that cascade even though finding the right ground and position was challenging for me. The angle of ‘Assorted’ gave it a different look but it also made the trees distorted … and this is after fixing them as much as I could. My camera was tilted down and I wasn’t as low as some of the others. Lesson learned … next time there are trees in the background I will take that into consideration.

  20. 43 genegoff

    Really nice photographs, Denise.

    • Oh thanks Gene … so nice to hear from you. How’s everything in Tuscon? I remember your photo from Grey Copper Gulch when I judged for OCAA. I went up last year and the ponds were kind of dry and then went up again recently. The Elephant’s Head and Yellow & Purple Combo photos in this set are from up there. Got some reflections too … for another post. 🙂

  21. Very nice, Denise, so much to admire here! I particularly like your first photo.

  22. Wow! Simply marvelous, Denise! They are all beautifully shot.

  23. Your work in the field, and at home processing your work is stunning!! Well worth the effort.

    I’ve long wished for a tilt-shift lens, but as you say they are expensive. A lightly used one would be good, but I rarely look for one. I may have to learn to focus stack! These are marvelous images, Denise!

    • Thank you Deborah! I saw a used one for my Canon at half price … it was $1,000! Renting one to try out might be a good idea. I understand you really need to fuss with it to get near and far both in focus and then sometimes the far isn’t tack sharp.

  24. Beautiful!!

  25. Love them all but “Columbine time” is my WOW!

    • Hi Rich and thank you. Seems I can’t comment on your blog without jumping through some hoops but found your microbiomes article interesting. I have been researching that sort of thing for some gut issues.

  26. I believe you have achieved the “Sense of Place”. Well done, as always !

  27. Colorado meadows are splendiferous and you’ve shown them well, Denise. Of course, the cascades surrounded by flowers are my idea of heaven. 🙂

  28. Such beautiful, colourful scenes.
    I really like your landscape pictures.

  29. Wow, what a fabulous collection of wildflowers, Denise! Love each and every one❣️

  30. 63 fiddledee2

    WOW oh WOW! Amazing beauty.

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment so I know you have! The wildflowers are amazing and I’m glad I got out there when I did. We’ve been having monsoon rains and I don’t know what the jeep roads or flowers are like this week.

  31. Oh yes, you KOW I enjoyed this! 😉 Love what the fence does to the composition in the first one…and the shade-covered flowers with the sun-kissed rocks in the second, third & fourth. The fourth really puts me there – the immediacy is wonderful. The columbine is perfection – it makes me smile. I like the diagonally flowing waterfall beneath it, with those fresh bunches of flowers – fresh is the word. The “Assorted” assortment is so cheerful – it makes me think of a girl’s party dress, and what’s wrong with that, right? The next-to-last waterfall is beautiful – the light on the rocks above and below the water in that one is so nice, and the pink flower makes it all even better. I’m glad you set this challenge for yourself – we’re all benefiting from the results. Thank you. 🙂

  32. Stunning images Denise! What a pure joy to see them and to share in the delight. I love them all. Well done!! Thank you 🙂

  33. Beautiful flowers 😍.

  34. Absolutely stunning Denise. Very inspiring! My favourites are Columbine Time, Nature’s Zen Garden, Wildflower Cascade.

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