Blue Himalayan Poppies??? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Blue Himalayan Poppies???

Blue Himalayan Poppies??? A Guest Blog Post by Denise Ippolito

This image of a Himalayan Blue Poppy was created by Denise Ippolito with the hand held Canon 100mm macro lens (now replaced by the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Denise Ippolito

Finding What Inspires Me

By Denise Ippolito

When I get to a location to photograph flowers it is important to focus on which flowers I will be photographing. After I scope out those that initially appeal to me I begin to carefully consider the lighting, color, texture and shape of my flower as well as the available backgrounds. I will then go in for a closer look. I am searching for an element that will catch my eye; a curled petal, an interesting texture, a water droplet, or even where the spot where the stem meets the blossom. Once I find my subject I try to capture it in a way that appeals to me. It is most important to me that I like the final image; I don’t try to conform to someone else’s idea of what a flower image should look like. I never worry about whether or not an image will sell. I concentrate on trying to make the one component that originally drew me in to stand out in a special way. Next, I decide on my perspective.

For the opening image here, I was not able to find a pleasing background so I filled the frame with the flower. This is something I do often when I am unable to use the available backgrounds to my benefit. Once I decide to fill the frame I concentrate on where to place my focal point; for this poppy image I chose the point where the stem met the flower as my main point of interest.

This image of a Himalayan Blue Poppy was created by Denise Ippolito with the hand held Canon 100mm macro lens (now replaced by the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Denise Ippolito

Backgrounds for Flower Photography

I often like to use surrounding flowers as artistic backdrops. Sometimes adding a flower in juxtaposition can add to the overall image design. I may also think about simply using only the color of somewhat distant flowers as my background. I decide whether to completely blur the background or to create a more detailed textured look. For the above image I used a very shallow depth of field to create the soft painterly look. Hand holding my camera allows me the flexibility needed to create pleasing compositions. Even when I decide to use a tripod I will first hand hold my camera to find a pleasing design.

This image of a Himalayan Blue Poppy was created by Denise Ippolito with the hand held Canon 100mm macro lens (now replaced by the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Denise Ippolito

Fractalius and Flowers

Here, with a more traditional view of the flower center, I went with some Fractalius to spice things up. Denise is co-author of Fractastic. Learn more here; order your copy here.

This image of a Himalayan Blue Poppy was created by Denise Ippolito with the hand held Canon 100mm macro lens (now replaced by the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Denise Ippolito

Texture Overlays with Flowers

The background in the original image had numerous distracting elements. Rather than cleaning them up with traditional Photoshop techniques,I chose a somewhat more artistic route here and went with a texture overlay. Adding texture is just one of the dozens of topics covered in Denise’s great eGuide, “A Guide to Creative Filters and Effects.” You can learn more or order your copy here. There is additional info on texture overlays in her “Bloomin’ Ideas” here.

Summing Up

Often one small element will be enough to get my creative juices flowing. I need to be inspired by what I photograph. If I have no interest in what I see I can’t be creative. Find what inspires you and then create images that you like.

Your Favorite?

Please take a moment to let us know which of the four Blue Poppy images above is your favorite. Be sure to let us know why.

Blue Poppy

In late spring 1922, legendary mountaineer George Leigh Mallory led a British Himalayan expedition on a failed attempt to reach the summit of the then-unconquered Mount Everest. Blue Poppy was discovered on the trip. Learn more about Blue Poppy at Wikipedia here.

Flower Location Creative Photography Workshops & Seminars

All of these images were created at Longwood Gardens, near Kennett Square, PA on one of Denise’s Workshop/Seminar combos. Learn more about her workshops here.

Like Flower Photography?

If you like photographing flowers, be sure to see the “Creative Flower Photography” blog post here.

Denise Ippolito. Image courtesy of and copyright 2013: Tom Cucharo/BREA Photos

Denise Ippolito

The formerly camera shy Denise Ippolito came out of hiding recently to pose for head shots. They were skillfully executed by Tom Chucharo when Denise traveled to Hamden, CT for a program. As far as I am concerned, she has no reason to hide. Who knows what the future will bring?

On The Road Again

Please know that I will be traveling to and from the Africa for the Tanzania Photo Safari with Todd Gustafson leaving today, August 1 and back in the office on August 21. I will have extremely limited and very slow at best internet access so please do not e-mail me until I get back. Jim will be in the office every weekday to help you with your mail order purchases and Jen will be here handling IPT registrations. The blog will continue to be active as I have prepared a dozen interesting, brand new educational posts for you in advance for you to enjoy during my absence.

Please consider using our B&H, Amazon, and Borrow Lenses affiliate links for all of your major and minor purchases both photographic and household. If we carry something in the BAA Store that you need our very great preference would be that you purchase those items from us :).

If you have a gear, image processing, or other question please e-mail me after July 19th. You can reach Jim here via e-mail. You can reach Jennifer here via e-mail. Please type “JIM” or “JEN” respectively at the front of the Subject Line.

Nature Photographer Magazine

Denise’s guest blog post was adapted and expanded from the article that appears in the current issue of Nature Photographer Magazine. My article, “Flower Photography,” also appears in the Summer 2013 issue of Nature Photographer along with more than a dozen great articles including “Lessons from Home” by Joe McDonald, “Flash Strategies for Nature Photographers” by John and Barbara Gerlach, and “Wildlife Photography in our National Parks” by Weldon Lee. All issues include a fine selection of image’s by Nature Photographer Field Contributors.

Nature Photographer Magazine is available at selected bookstores and newsstands, by subscription, as a PDF, and in an expanded form as an iPad APP. Note: The Summer 2013 issue is not yet on the website.

Images copyright 2012: Denise Ippolito & Arthur Morris. Card design by Denise Ippolito. Click on the image to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

Holland 2014 7 1/2-Day/8-Night: A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART/Tulips & A Touch of Holland IPT. April 17-April 24, 2014 :$4995 Limit: 12 photographers/Openings 9

This trip needs 8 registrants to run so please do not purchase your plane tickets until you hear from us; right now we need 5 more folks.

Join Denise Ippolito, Flower Queen and the author of “Bloomin’ Ideas,” and Arthur Morris, Canon Explorer of Light Emeritus and one of the planet’s premier photographic educators for a great trip to Holland in mid-April 2014. Day 1 of the IPT will be April 17, 2014. We will have a short afternoon get-together and then our first photographic session at the justly-famed Keukenhof. Most days we will return to the hotel for lunch, image sharing and a break. On Day 8, April 24, we will enjoy both morning and afternoon photography sessions.

The primary subjects will be tulips and orchids at Keukenhof and the spectacularly amazing tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil bulb fields around Lisse. In addition we will spend one full day in Amsterdam. There will be optional visits the Van Gogh Museum in the morning and the Anne Frank House in the afternoon; there will be plenty of time for street photography as well. And some great food. On another day we will have a wonderful early dinner at Kinderdijk and then head out with our gear to photograph the windmills and possibly some birds for those who bring their longs lenses. We will spend an afternoon in the lovely Dutch town of Edam where we will do some street photography and enjoy a superb dinner. All lodging, ground transportation, entry fees, and meals (from dinner on Day 1 through dinner on Day 8) are included.

For those who will be bringing a big lens we will likely have an optional bird photography afternoon or two. If we get lucky, the big attraction should be gorgeous Purple Herons in flight at a breeding marsh. We would be photographing them from the roadside. And we might be able to find a few Great-crested Grebes at a location near Keukenhof.

Click here for complete details and some previously unpublished images. And/or click here and see item one for lots more tulip photos and complete trip details.

Click here for complete details and some previously unpublished images. And/or click here and see item one for lots more tulip photos and complete trip details.

All images courtesy of and copyright 2012: Denise Ippolito. Click for a larger version.

A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Swan Island Dahlia Farm Instructional Photo-Tour, September 11-15, 2013: 5 FULL DAYS: $1649

Join Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris at the Swan Island Dahlia Farm in Canby, Oregon (just south of Portland) for a great learning and photography experience. Swan Island features more than 40 acres with over 350 varieties of dahlias in a plethora of colors, shapes and sizes, making it one of the largest growers in the United States.

Daily Photo Schedule

We will enjoy four morning (7:00am till 10:30am) and five afternoon (3:30pm till 6pm) photography sessions. While we will do most of our photography at the Swan Island Dahlia Farm, we will also visit the Portland Rose Garden and/or the Portland Japanese Garden on this IPT. The in-the-field instruction will include seeing the situation, the use of selective focus, creative use of depth of field, histogram and exposure guidance, designing creative images, choosing your background, isolating your subject, lens options, and the use of reflectors and diffusers. Our field sessions will include challenging photography assignments geared to make you think creatively. Both personalized and small group instruction will be provided. All times are tentative and subject to change based on the weather and on local conditions.

Seminar Morning: Friday, September 13: 8:30am till 12:30pm

Denise will begin by presenting her “Bloomin’ Ideas” program, an overview of the in-the-field and post-processing techniques that she has used and developed over the past few years to create her signature look. Artie will follow with a Photoshop session that will be geared towards all levels. He’ll be sharing some of his favorite techniques and tips while working on images from the first two days of the IPT. Denise will conclude the seminar portion of the IPT with a Photoshop demo; she will share her creative workflow using a variety of Photoshop filters and effects. The entire morning is designed to give you a peek into the minds of two very skilled and creative folks.

The group will have lunch together daily. All are invited to bring their laptops for image sharing. We hope that you can join us for an intense five days of learning and some of the best flower photography to be had in North America.

Deposit Info and Cancellation Policies:

A $449 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Your balance is due 4 months before the date of the IPT and is also non-refundable. If the trip fills, we will be glad to apply a credit applicable to a future IPT for the full amount less a $100 processing fee. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check (made out to “Arthur Morris.”) You can also leave your deposit with a credit card by calling the office at 863-692-0906. We will be short-handed in the office until January 21 so please leave a message and we will call you back. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail


On all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or leave a comment regarding any typos, wrong words, misspellings, omissions, or grammatical errors. Just be right. πŸ™‚

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27 comments to Blue Himalayan Poppies???

  • Thanks for the kudos on Denise’s headshot! We appreciate the link to our website! FYI, our last name is Cuchara, not Chucharo or Cucharo, but the website link worked so that it more important anyway!!! (tidbit, Cuchara actually means spoon in spanish, we got a lot of ribbing when we travel to Mexico. Although this name actually derives from Sicily, they lost a letter or two over the decades). I always enjoy seeing Denise’s work, and yours! I was quite surprised to open up the latest issue Nature Photographer and see what I though were Denise’s photographs and then to see that they were yours! It goes to show that if you really know your camera and understand light and aperture then you can master any subject matter, with a little inspiration perhaps πŸ™‚ always look forward to your blog, advice, and photographs! Thanks, Lisa Cuchara

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Denise. Wonderful images and insights. I loved the first one–how unusual, interesting, and beautiful it is–and then the third one was even better for me. The stamens and pistils are colorful and in focus and what a background. Some of my own favorite flower images are backlit; butterflies, too. And of course I agree with what others say about you, and in person, all the more so.

  • avatar Bill Richardson

    No fav, I liked all of them very much for different reasons. It would be helpful to include f-stop info to show the different effects on DOF.

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    Denise- You teased me with the first three then blew me away with number four. It’s winter here but you have me seriously thinking about our Australian orchids for this coming spring – AND they don’t fly away. Beautiful and thought provoking images. Thanks so much.

  • avatar Chris Cooke


    Images #1 and #3 are my favourites though all of them appeal to me in many ways. Thanks for the tip on avoiding poor backgrounds by filling the frame with the flower you have cured a problem that has vexed me often.

    Secondly thank you for your lovely portrait, I can see no reason for you to keep your image from us. You have a lovely and expressive face with stunning eyes that lends itself to portraiture please post more of yourself as it compensates superbly for Artie’s grim, weather beaten and craggy visage and though we love the old chap it is nice to see the softer side as well.

    Thank you very much Denise.

  • Hello Denise,
    your images of the amazing blue poppy are absolutely exquisite. So much so that you have inspired me to get out there and give macro flower photography another go. I tend to prefer moving subjects, but after seeing these, I am up for a new challenge! My favorite by the way is #3. All the best, Jackie

  • avatar Kathleen Hanika

    Hi Denise, These are all great, but the 1st one is my favorite. Would you consider sharing your f/ and shutter speed for tese images? I just tried my hand at macro for the first time with waaay less than pleasing results. I’m hoping to learn from a master! Thank you.

    • Hi Kathleen, Thank you for your comments. I had to hand hold these captures as the flowers were in an awkward spot and I couldn’t set up a tripod. I used an 800 ISO to try to get the most shutter speed that I could. I would recommend setting up on a tripod whenever possible unless you are very good at hand holding. I always vary my f-stops depending on my subject and the background, the distance of my subject to the background, etc.. My f-stop for the first flower was f/13, I chose that because I wanted enough detail in the stem and the front petals. For the second flower I used an f/2.8, I wanted the background and the background flower to be less distracting. Hope this helps πŸ™‚

  • avatar Bob Miller

    Hi Denise….All these are great images but my favorites are 1 for its composition and colors and 4 for its dreamy look! Fine work! Hope to shoot again sometime with you until then keep on truckin

  • Nice background on the last image Denise.

  • avatar Rebecca Field

    Denise – You are as pretty as the flowers you photograph. Your work is impressive.

  • avatar Mark W.

    Great info and some absolutely LOVELY images!!!! SO many thanks!!!

  • avatar Tim Hurley

    I agree with Artie, Denise has no reason to hide! Very nice.

  • Thanks for the interesting blog and beautiful images.