View Full Version : Life cycle study - Lily of the Valley

Wicked Dark
03-31-2010, 10:47 AM
So I've been casting about for a project to sharpen my skills and give me long-term photographic possibilities. Little did I know the perfect study is literally just outside my door.

I've decided to photograph the life cycle of the Lilies of the Valley next to my front walk. Some consider them a pest flower as they are prolific, hardy and often take over an area to the detriment of everything else. It's all true. They send out runners many, many feet from the main patch and colonize a new area. Although not thought to be highly poisonous, the medicinal indications are similar to digitalis (foxglove). They are intensely fragrant and have lush leaves hiding delicate, white bell-shaped blossoms. I used to pick them for my mother when I was a child.

March 31st -

Olympus E-30 | OM 90mm f2 macro lens | ISO 100 | f8 | 4/10th sec | ziplock bag containing fleece gloves (tripod replacement)

I will post more throughout the seasons.

03-31-2010, 10:55 AM
I think this is a cool project and I like your first shot WD! :highfive:

03-31-2010, 12:15 PM
Very cool!The neighbours have them growing along one side of their house. There is a side walk that separates the two properties so they are less prone to spread. They are great when in bloom, the fragrance from those tiny flowers is amazing. The are also in a somewhat shady area where nothing else is really happy to grow.

Mad Aussie
03-31-2010, 10:41 PM
Cool idea!

04-01-2010, 02:10 AM
Nice idea, will we be able to follow this on your blog?

Wicked Dark
04-01-2010, 07:03 AM
1st post (http://wickeddarkphotography.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/lily-of-the-valley-part-1/) w/bonus images.

Wicked Dark
04-05-2010, 03:59 PM
I've posted about part 2, nothing exciting, but a few more photos than this -


Rain + warm temps = growth (http://wickeddarkphotography.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/lily-of-the-valley-part-2/)

Wicked Dark
04-10-2010, 02:19 PM
Here is a shot from April 8th -


With all the rain we've had and sun we're going to get these are going to explode pretty soon.

Mad Aussie
04-10-2010, 02:49 PM
They are really coming along aren't they!! In 4 days they are about 5 times their original size.

04-11-2010, 06:27 AM
Very nice shots in this series Wicked. I will definitely be following this thread.

Wicked Dark
04-30-2010, 10:50 AM
Here's an update for you -

April 21 -

April 26 -

More at The Gallery (http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Nature/Life-cycle-Lily-of-the-Valley/11682351_2NVLX#849466422_74Pkz) including a black and white beauty.

04-30-2010, 10:59 AM
WOW - this second shot in post 11 ROCKS!:highfive: (It beats the BW imo)

Mad Aussie
04-30-2010, 02:59 PM
21 days then from shoot to this now. Cool.

04-30-2010, 03:03 PM
WOW - this second shot in post 11 ROCKS!:highfive: (It beats the BW imo)

I second that! That's a great shot:thumbup:

04-30-2010, 03:34 PM
Great set! Very neat to scroll through it!

Wicked Dark
04-30-2010, 04:05 PM
Thanks guys. March 25th was the first day I shot. They grow up so fast, don't they?

04-30-2010, 09:55 PM
This is an awesome series WD. All the shots have been perfect thus far, keep'em coming, love the idea.

04-30-2010, 10:05 PM
I second that! That's a great shot:thumbup:

I third it! :) What a cool idea. Fun set.

Wicked Dark
05-07-2010, 07:15 AM
from May 3 - it's looking very jungle-y now and the first buds are blooming. The smell is intense even with these few blossoms open. Such a hardship to photograph them after the rain, truly. :angel:


I think I shot this one with the OM 35mm f2 lens...but I'm so senile I can't remember. My beloved 90mm was acting up a bit so I think I put the 35 on.

05-07-2010, 12:29 PM
Yay! She's a beaut Wonderful photo too

Mad Aussie
05-07-2010, 03:41 PM
This is very cool watching this happen :)

Wicked Dark
05-07-2010, 04:36 PM
thanks MA & kat. I think when it's over I'll make a video of them. It's been a fun project so far.

05-08-2010, 09:52 PM
It's amazing how fast they're growing. I'm looking forward to the next set. Video, too; that sounds like a cool idea.

Wicked Dark
05-14-2010, 12:09 PM
Well since I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow I thought I'd update this series today. Plus it rained this morning and flower close ups are more magical with raindrops. The flowers are fully bloomed and smell like heaven.




All done with the E-30 and the vintage OM 90mm macro. No tubes. No flash. Several mosquitoes. *******s.

Mad Aussie
05-14-2010, 02:39 PM
Very pretty WD. Nice work. That 2nd shot came out great didn't it!

Where are you going on vacation?

05-14-2010, 02:50 PM
Loving this last set WD - so cool, nice macro.
Yeah for sure - have an amazing vacation!!! Don't miss us too much :D

Wicked Dark
05-14-2010, 05:36 PM
thanks guys. I stuck another one up on smugmug. took me like 50 tries and I'm still not thrilled with it, but whatever.

am heading to California (again) to see a few of our favorite winemakers & taste their 2010 releases. also doing some hiking at Pinnacles National Monument & Big Sur. A couple nights in Monterey as well. we love it there.

Mad Aussie
05-14-2010, 05:47 PM
Don't care about the wine bit myself but can't wait to see the Big Sur and Pinnacles :)

Wicked Dark
05-14-2010, 06:00 PM
I hope to get some decent ones in Paso Robles as well...it's gorgeous there.

05-14-2010, 07:56 PM
Still watching, and still lovin' it WD. They are al excellent IMO.
Have a nice vacation, and have a sip or two for me ;).

Ernst-Ulrich Schafer
05-14-2010, 09:32 PM
Fun series. I did something the other day in my studio with Lillies of the Valley and will post it in the new BW area.


Wicked Dark
05-27-2010, 07:08 PM
I'm really glad I shot the last series before I left because now we have this -

I've added a few more to the gallery on smugmug and will add a few more shortly. Right after I shot this latest series, it rained hard and knocked all the drying blossoms off their stems. Glad I didn't get lazy.

Gallery (http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Nature/Life-cycle-Lily-of-the-Valley/Paso-Robles-9/881098108_64Zu3-XL.jpg)

05-29-2010, 12:52 PM
Which is the perfect end to this part of the series. Are you going to continue through seed pods or berries or whatever they produce? Or does this reproduce another way?

Wicked Dark
05-29-2010, 01:44 PM
yes I plan to continue until they are buried under snow and ice (they're under the roof overhang and there's often ice as well as snow). They don't do seed pods or whatever, they spread through rhizomes underground, which is basically like a stem and not a root. When the leaves die back they're strangely pretty.

I added a few more shots to the gallery today. One is the same photo, but I couldn't decide if b&w was better than color, so I left them both.

Wicked Dark
06-07-2010, 10:31 AM
I hope I'm not boring you guys to death, but here's another stop on the way to full die back, which won't fully take place for months yet.

I noticed when blooming, the flowers do so from the base to the tips, the die back takes the opposite direction.


And I found a stubborn little blossom that couldn't be dislodged even after a heavy rain -


Things will probably be pretty static for a while, but I'll keep an eye on it.

06-10-2010, 02:26 AM
No, I'm not bored. I've been watching the cycles of things lately, so this fits right in.

06-10-2010, 07:34 AM
thanks for sharing this. I have to say that the pictures we have here of flowers are far better then the ones I see on gardening sites.

06-10-2010, 10:12 AM
Not boring at all WD!

"And I found a stubborn little blossom that couldn't be dislodged even after a heavy rain " Lucky for you. That stubborn l'il blossom helps make the shot!

Wicked Dark
06-10-2010, 11:03 AM
thanks guys. It's not the norm to keep piling on a thread like this, so I didn't know how people would take it.

Wicked Dark
06-28-2010, 02:52 PM
So I learned something new about these flowers - they make fruit.


As they ripen they will turn orangey-red and I'm looking forward to that phase - contrasty color goodness. I hope these last because already I've noticed some have either fallen off or have been eaten. The berry in another picture is gone (you can find it in the gallery (http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Nature/Life-cycle-Lily-of-the-Valley/11682351_2NVLX#892937371_UFvQd)though). Like a lot of the others, this was done w/the E-30, the OM 90mm f2 macro, a bag of barley and a block of wood as supports.

06-28-2010, 08:03 PM
wow, I didn't know that either. thanks for sharing this .

06-30-2010, 01:27 AM
I didn't know, either. Wonder what else it'll surprise you with?

Wicked Dark
06-30-2010, 07:35 AM
I know huh? Amazing what one learns when one slows down enough to look. Story of my life, going too fast.

Wicked Dark
08-04-2010, 02:54 PM
It's wicked hot today, but I noticed the lily of the valley are starting to die back and so I stuck it out for a few photos, but then gave up. Maybe tomorrow won't be so wretched outside.


E-30 w/12-60mm resting on a bag of barley on the walk. ISO 200, f9, 6/10th sec w/a polarizer.

Wicked Dark
08-05-2010, 09:59 AM
OK, one more from this morning when it wasn't so breezy or so hot -


E-30 | OM 90mm f2 macro | probably f8 | 4/10 sec | ISO 200

More here if you want to check it out - Wicked Dark blog (http://wickeddarkphotography.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/lily-of-the-valley-part-8/)

08-05-2010, 10:00 AM
LOVE the yellowy/brown tones here in shot 1, extremely well rendered!

Wicked Dark
08-05-2010, 10:07 AM
thanks man. I dig that one myself. I like the depth in it.

08-06-2010, 01:19 AM
The first one gets my vote, too. And if you've suddenly acquired cooler weather, please share it.

08-06-2010, 01:33 AM
Love the first one on this page as well!

Wicked Dark
08-06-2010, 07:11 AM
Thanks guys. It's been a fun little project.
Thunderstorm came through about 4 yesterday and cleared out the heat & humidity so today it's only supposed to be in the 80s. If the dew point stays in the 60s we should be OK.

Wicked Dark
08-26-2010, 04:08 PM
Phew. These berries I've been watching turned orange before I go into forced hiatus. Am still processing some and have to re-shoot others because I strangely missed the focus point. Luckily they aren't going anywhere. And neither is that tiny spider. She stuck there the whole time I shot.


E-30 | OM 90mm f2 macro | ISO 100 | f11 (probably) | 4/10 sec | 4" post for camera support

08-28-2010, 12:33 AM
Just about all the ones here are red now, some of them shriveled. These are cool. (Perhaps literally, if that's frost I'm seeing on the top?)

Wicked Dark
08-28-2010, 07:40 AM
Nope, not frost yet, what you're seeing are the remnants of the flower blossom.

I hope that the shriveled part holds off for a few weeks so I can shoot them. I just don't know if I'll be physically able if it happens too soon, which would be a bummer and kind of ruin my project. Maybe I'll send my husband down and just stand over him and direct. :cool:

Wicked Dark
09-17-2010, 11:36 AM
Here's an update. A loner on another stem is shriveled (oh I love that word), but I'm not happy with the shots I've taken. The focus is off for some reason. But here is the trio from the other shots -

Wicked Dark
10-01-2010, 10:05 AM
I know you guys are bored with this by now, but I shot this a few minutes ago and love it. The overall shades of brown and gray with that pop of red and the leaf shapes really work for me. Anyway...


E-30 | ZD 12-60mm | ISO 200 | 1.6 sec | f9 | barley bag ground support

10-01-2010, 10:59 AM
And back to the earth. Nice capture, WickedDark! The photo looks better on your website btw.

10-01-2010, 12:41 PM
I know you guys are bored with this by now, but I shot this a few minutes ago and love it. The overall shades of brown and gray with that pop of red and the leaf shapes really work for me. Anyway...

Not sure why you keep thinking were bored by this 'cause were not! The colours are very nice here and very fallish. Nicely captured and it's been a very cool tale.

Wicked Dark
11-01-2010, 10:30 AM
OK, I believe you. You're not bored, but I was and my photos prove it. Lousy, but still indicative of what they looked like a couple weeks ago. The banana phase.


11-01-2010, 08:50 PM
Amazing series and idea, WD! :highfive:

11-01-2010, 09:48 PM
Nice work! This was such an interesting collection of images to see ... So many lovely shots! :)

11-02-2010, 02:16 AM
Well done on this excellent project WD. :D

Wicked Dark
11-02-2010, 07:48 AM
Hey thanks guys. Now I just wait for snow, hopefully a light dusting or maybe some nice crispy frost. That would be the capper.

Wicked Dark
11-03-2010, 08:44 AM
So I felt bad about the last few shots in this series. They really do suck in comparison to some, so I went out a few minutes ago because the light was great. Used the OM 90mm f2 macro with the 25mm extension tube for this one, probably f16.


I think the little spots are some type of decay - fungus or rot or something. I liked the twisted shapes the leaves are getting into. Reminds me of ribbon candy.

Wicked Dark
12-27-2010, 01:05 PM
so I'm putting a video together and realized I forgot this one - I love the weird right-before-it-rains light.

I'll post the vid when I'm done. knowing me it could be a while.

Wicked Dark
08-17-2011, 03:57 PM
Sorry to bump such an old thread, but I've actually added to the project today -


Last year I didn't notice the leaves aging this way. I added them to the project gallery and was struck by how differently the leaves died back last year. These were taken today which is 2 weeks later than some I took last year and the leaves are substantially more yellow and ragged looking. Must be rain or something, I don't know, but it was eye-opening. Gallery is Here (http://wickeddark.smugmug.com/Nature/Life-cycle-Lily-of-the-Valley/11682351_2NVLX) if you haven't seen it or want to see it again.

08-19-2011, 02:25 PM
I looked at the thread again, and didn't see these types of spots. Late spring rains followed by heat stress? The colors are wonderfully vivid.

Wicked Dark
08-19-2011, 03:39 PM
That could be it. It's weird. And they really are that green. I was marveling at them again today. So changed from year to year.