This Is Not A Sunflower

single false sunflower with bud
False Sunflower with bud for next in line.

Actually, it is a false sunflower, but of all the woodland sunflowers I saw this weekend on the Panhandle Trail, I liked this one the best. Those five petals are so deliberate that they are difficult to ignore, and remind me of a wind turbine. Most sunflowers have petals, or rays, all the way around the central disk, but this one has apparently chosen, by genetics, to have only five. this variety, Heliopsis helianthoides, can have anywhere between five and eight. All the plants in this area with similar leaves and stems had five rays, yet in other areas along the trail, I know I’ve seen others with six rays and more. I guess they each have their own territory.

And the photo below is interesting in its own right. I use several different lenses when I photograph wildflowers, and I also manually change the settings, shooting “dark” so that I get all the highlights in the petals where the sun highlights them, for instance, while the background detail fades to focus interest on the flower. I usually have to adjust the levels when I get into PhotoShop, to lighten it up a bit. Often, I’ll simply choose “auto levels” and see what happens. I rarely like what it does—it’s usually too contrasty for me—but it often shows me elements of the image I wouldn’t see otherwise, like this! This photo began with the same color ranges as the one above, but who would think there would be blue and purple in the background and no green? And that zappy yellow! I love the effect.

zappy sunflowers
Zappy Sunflowers

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