The Water Lily
... Pictures from the pond.

The water lily is one of my favourite flowers to photograph. I'm Aquarius and water's my element so that could have some bearing on it.

The first time I saw Monet's water lily panels at L'Orangerie Museum in Paris, I was mesmerized!

Not just the dazzling rainbows of petals but the amazing hues and patterns of the leaves... the reflections on the water... the quality of the light.

The panels make you feel as though you're sitting right there beside his waterlily pond.

Wouldn't you love a waterlily pond just a few steps away from your home? You don't have to be a photographer to appreciate that, but it's such a bonus if you are an artist or a photographer!

You could spend years painting or photographing the pond while it changes from morning to night and season to season... just like Monet did.

Photo Editing

Your photos reflect who you are. Be what you want to be. Even if you're a realist,  you can have fun playing with a photo-editor. I don't process all of my photos in an artistic painterly style.  Some I only apply basic adjustments in Camera Raw.

But many of my photographs are impressionistic.  'Painting' my photos lets me play and express my own style in my photos.  It makes my pictures unique to me.

I use Lightroom, Photoshop,  and Topaz Impression. I've also used ON1.

Don't be afraid of editing programmes. You computer comes with one and if you outgrow that particular programme, move up to a more advanced software.  Go through the lessons that come with your photo-editor or search YouTube for help.  The point is to enjoy the process while you learn.

It's easy to confuse water lilies and lotuses, but they're really very different. There's a lot of confusion on the internet, so I'll let you in on some of the differences on this page....and then....

Go here to brush up on the lotus blossom. That should clear up any problems you might still have. 

Textures Are Terrific!

This beautiful blue blossom was in the Water Garden at Yeomiji Botanical Gardens, Jeju Island, South Korea.

Blue Water Lily Yeomiji Botanical Gardens

There are 4 texture layers in this image. Three use a multiply blending mode and 1 is screen mode. All the layers are adjusted to various opacities for the look I wanted.  

The water and the lily pad's greens and blues blend with the textures. The soft colour simplifies the background for the pastel blue lily.

Frame Your Photo

Frames are fun to play around with. When you add one to an image, make it say compliment the picture in some way. It should not take your attention away from the photo.

These rich maroon water lilies lives in the most inconspicuous garden at a restaurant in Thailand... near Kanchanaburi. You'd never know there's such a lush tropical paradise behind the walls when you drive by!

Through the gate, it was a whole different world. Stone fountains, tiers of brilliant flowers and hanging plants, flowering bushes... quite a shock. Including the most incredible carved flower stepping stones between the ponds of water plants.

The frame is simply a black-brushed fringe, an irregular vignette. It fits this photo because it makes the dark, moody image even moodier. 

The texture layers transform the photo into a painting with the light falling around both water lily blooms.

The Water Lily
... More than just a pretty petal

Scientific Name:  Nymphaeaceae is the family with 8 genera of water lilies that live in freshwater in either temperate or tropical climates.

All the flowers in the hardy group bloom in the morning about 9:00 and close up about 4:00 in the evening. If it's cloudy and dull, they hide their petals and wait for the sun to return!

If you were a tropical water lily, there's a high probability you'd be blue. Plus you'd be totally finicky about where you live… only a conservatory or a very hot and humid climate.

  • And talking about the color BLUE! There are all shades of absolutely fabulous blue waterlilies. But... you'll never find a blue lotus blossom! So don't believe the name if you read about the Egyptian Blue Lotus. It's really Nymphaea caerulea, the Egyptian blue water lily.

..... and it has an amazing ancient history in the land of the Pharaohs!

Here's where you go to find out about the lotuses.

In the 1900's a French botanist bred a miniature group of "pygmy" waterlilies. If you've got a small water feature from 10 cm (4 inches) to 30 cm (a foot) deep, these babies are your ticket!

These little ones come in a rainbow of colors! They'll really give you some great photo opportunities, right in your own back yard!

If you have a pond or a lake, you could grow the large water lilies. They need water about 80 cm (almost 3 feet) deep. But, as Monet found out, they're high maintenance!


Perfect Pick For a National Flower

  • The White Water Lily is the National flower of Bangladesh - they call it shapla. It floats peacefully on the water and it symbolizes peace and self-reflection. The many petals stand for all the rivers in Bangladesh.
  • In April 2012, N. nouchali, a sky blue color, was named the national flower of Sri Lanka again! … seems they had mistakenly "advertised" N. caerulea as the national flower for many years!
  • Guyana also has a water lily as its national flower, named after Queen Victoria, Victoria amazonica. The leaves are amazing... huge, up to 3 meters across and they look like gigantic circular baking pans! The flowers can be 40 cm in diameter. When they first flower they're pure white but the second night, they turn a beautiful pink. I've seen these... what incredible plants!

Waterlily Video
Yeomiji Botanical Gardens, South Korea

If you love water gardens and the sound of waterfalls, take two minutes and watch the video I shot at Yeomiji Botanical Gardens on Jeju Island in South Korea. There's a magical display of water plants and at the very end, you'll catch a glimpse of the magnificent Victoria amazonica leaves on the water.

What Are Water Lilies Used For?
... Besides Simply Admiring Them

The tropical water lily is a "scent-sational" blossom. They smell divine… so if you guessed that they're used in making perfumes, bingo!

Narcotic water lilies anyone? I found several stories from Mayan and Egyptian history that got my attention. Apparently, two Nymphaea species were quite the party favors. Religiously speaking, if you were a member of the priestly clique, you could get your freak on by eating a slice of water lily!

Every part of Nymphaea alba is used in herbal medicine. The plant contains two active substances that will either relax you into oblivion or replace your viagra! … depends on which part of the plant you use.

Ancient Egyptian pictures show people putting the flower into their cup of wine and more recent studies show there might be an ingredient in the wine that activates the substances in the flowers, producing pure ecstasy. Seems they knew how to party!

I also came across tales of monks and nuns crushing the roots and mixing them with wine… an "aphrodisiac-combo". Hmm, a few more perks than just meditation when living in some monasteries!

Monet's Waterlilies at Giverny

Monet used his artistic genius to create one of the most staggeringly beautiful gardens that is still studied, copied and absolutely adored by garden lovers everywhere.

His water garden was almost an afterthought. He began working on it 10 years into his perennial gardens. Not long after he started, he was smitten by the beauty of his pond... and then he got serious about the design and enlarging it.

If you want to learn about light, study Monet's paintings and visit his home and garden at Giverny. The garden is a glorious piece of artwork... a study in color and light.

To experience Monet's 19 panels of water lilies, your first stop to make is L'Orangerie Museum in the Tuileries Gardens, near the Louvre! Together, this massive work is called the Grandes Decorations des Nympheas. They are overwhelming! Each panel is 2 meters high and 6 meters long... all painted at the time his health and sight were failing. Brought tears to my eyes.. unbelievable!

You must stand in a room with them to feel the impact because looking at them in a book won't give you that breathtaking experience!

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