Last Saturday we visited the Hayden Prairie Preserve in Howard County, Iowa, a few miles from the Iowa/Minnesota state line. The Iowa Native Plant Society sponsored the field trip. INPS field trips are a wonderful way to get to know more about Midwestern natural history.
The western section of the property was the focus for the day. There were dozens of faded Yellow Lady’s Slipper orchids. One needed to be careful not to step on them hidden in the grass. Among the other treasures in the grass, we found a White Camass or White Camas (Zigadenus elegans). Other common names include Death Camas, Alkalai Grass and Smooth Camass. Its scientific name refers to the pairs of glands at the base of each petal and its rather elegant appearance.
The real Death Camas (Zigadenus venenosus) is a more western species which is toxic to livestock. Its flowers are in a pointed cluster at the top of the stem. White Camass flowers are often in small clusters along the stem.
It was very windy and the sun was high so our white umbrellas served as wind breaks and light diffusers. One of us held the umbrellas down and the other worked the camera.
When there is an inch or more between two elements that we want in sharp focus in a close-up photo we often make two images. We also use the LiveView function of our cameras because this helps in picking the precise focus point. One image focused on the front flower and the second on the stamens of the back flower.
Using Photoshop we put the two files as layers in a new empty file and used a layer mask to blend the two. We like using the empty layer as the background partly because there is more latitude in working with the layers without needing to unlock the background layer. When finished blending and optimizing the file, the file needs to be named and saved. Using an empty background layer decreases the chance of saving with the name of the one of the image files.