David Barthel - North Shore Images PhotographyDavid Barthel North Shore Images Photography
David Barthel

Photo Journal & News

Friday, May 13, 2011

Abstracted Tulips

Longtime readers and those who know me understand that I spend most of my behind-the-camera time on Lake Superior's North Shore, trying to capture that elusive image that I had, or perhaps had not envisioned. It's sometimes difficult to imagine how anything else can compete with the grandeur found in that region we aptly refer to as "God's Country." Well, sometimes there are great images begging to be made right outside our doors.

May is the month when the tulips bloom where I live, and several are currently in blossom right beside my home. I happened to become intrigued with them this year and took a few photographs. Capturing these tulips in a pleasing manner had its own challenges since the flower bed as a whole was not exactly beautiful with last month's spent daffodils situated just behind these lovely fresh flowers.

I decided to take a semi-abstract approach by composing very close and keeping sharp focus only on the tip of the closest petal and letting the rest of the flower and background fall off into a soft blur. By doing this, I also all but removed the location context of these images.

Interestingly, I made these photographs on the evening of the severe thunderstorm outbreak in central Minnesota. Luckily, we were not impacted by the storms, but the clouds to the east created some unusual light that was perfect for these images.


Tulips have an interesting economic history. "Tulip mania," as it is called, was a period in the early-mid 1600s in Europe in which certain varieties of tulip bulbs became extremely valuable in the marketplace, some reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars in today's dollar value. It is the first recorded economic bubble in human history. After reaching these lofty heights, their values quickly plummeted as it became evident that the extreme prices were quite irrational. Further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulip_mania.

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