Anatomy of a photo #40: A season of thistles

Thistles can have their own elegance if you let them

They are a weed. Their spiky heads can leave a child wailing and an adult cursing. They are often a blight, an eyesore, something to be dealt with or avoided. They also can have their own beauty and intricacies, if you take the time to look a them in the right light (figuratively and literally).

The proud bloom of a thistle in its prime

When they are fresh, they can be an amazing mix of color.

And sometimes those colors can be surprising

And they are important to our bees, as they flower when little else does.

Hurrah for bees and thistles!

Most of these pictures were taken in the same way- with a long lens and an aperture that was opened up wide. This gives a very tight composition on just the thistle, while blurring out the background for a nice even backdrop. It simplifies the picture, leaves behind extraneous details, and gives the audience only one thing to focus on. Thistles.

A little color is added to the golden fields, for better or worse

I had no idea how excited I would get about this post, until I started it and began remembering about some of the many thistle pictures I have taken and wanted to include.

And finally, winter claims the forgotten thistles of the fall



Brownie thistle... sometimes even the name can be a little surprising


Beauty and pain mixed into simplicity

About Galen Leeds Photography

Nature and wildlife photographer, exploring the world on his feet and from his kayak. Among other genres, he is one of the leading kayak photographers in Northern California. To learn more about him, visit him on his website-
This entry was posted in Anatomy of a photo, nature photography, Photo Essay, photography, SLR and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Anatomy of a photo #40: A season of thistles

  1. Donna says:

    Very beautiful wildflowers and nicely photographed.

  2. Cee Neuner says:

    Absolutely stunning Galen!!

  3. Beautiful, Galen, especially with the bees – I always love the idea of focusing on a subject that is under (or less) appreciated. Thank you!

    • Thanks Irene. A little insect life can always add a little extra interest. There is very little that can’t be interesting in a photograph, as long as you can find the right angle and the correct depth of field.

  4. jbcamera says:

    Your post has given me a whole new perspective on thistles. I will still fight to keep them out of my lawn, but will allow them to continue to grow on our manure pile! Thanks.

  5. Beautiful job and a great photo lesson. I love to photograph thistles also. The number of totally different pictures one can take is amazing.

  6. From Moments to Memories says:

    Beautiful job, thanks for the tips!

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