Water Lily & Lotus

With bright flowers emerging from the water, contrasted by the rounded geometry of simple floating leaves, water lilies and lotuses have inspired artists and poets, symbolizing deep cultural meanings for centuries. Exploring the beauty of a water lily or lotus plant through photography is a welcome creative challenge.

These aquatic plants are a lovely subject for floral photography, and they make stunning botanical prints full of reflections and texture. The minimal natural forms translate well to fine art interpretations. The flowers bloom in many colours and a single water lily blossom or lotus flower can be both striking and serene.


Water lily or lotus, what’s the difference?

Water lilies (Nymphaeaceae) and lotus (Nelumbo) are most easily identifed by observing how they grow. Most water lily flowers and leaves float at the surface of the water, while lotus flowers and leaves emerge to rise above the water’s surface on longer stems. Both of these families of aquatic plants prefer shallow, calm or slow-moving watery habitats, such as ponds, lakes, and streams.

Water lily & lotus flowers from around the world

I’ve been working in my archives lately and have come across several images of these remarkable plants and flowers. Captured over the years, my water lily photography may not be quite like the magnificent impressionist representations such as those found in Claude Monet’s water lily paintings, but I can see why he was drawn to repeatedly explore their beauty.

My water lily and lotus photography has mostly been inspired while in botanical gardens, and the images in this post include examples from New Plymouth, New Zealand and San Francisco, California. There are also wild pond lilies (Nuphar) from Canada seen on a recent summer hike in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba.

Colourful symbolism & deeper meaning

Representing rebirth, enlightenment and hope, water lily and lotus flowers also carry different meanings depending on the colour of their petals; pink for knowledge, white for peace, purple for power. The blooming petals tend to be solitary flowers against lush rafts of leaves, or reflected in dark, glassy water. Water lily flowers are the official state or national flowers of several countries, and their leaves are potent symbols often used in heraldry designs. I think of them as a peaceful plant, thriving in the transitional space between water and air. Do water lilies hold a special meaning for you?

Find more examples of these fascinating plants in my
Nymphaeaceae, Nelumbo & Nuphar gallery, with prints and licensing
options available and custom inquiries always welcome.


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Agave Study

Sharp red thorns, pale green leaves, catching and shaping the bright New Zealand sun in the Wellington Botanic Garden. The variety of geometric shapes and contrasting textures make an agave plant particularly appealing to photograph, and in this image I sought to balance the light and shadow throughout the frame, highlighting the repeating pattern of the scalloped and pointed agave leaves.

Wellington Botanic Gardens, New Zealand

This image is the newest print offering in my Botanical Prints gallery, available as a fine art archival print, Giclée Canvas Wrap or Bamboo mounted print. Every print is made to order and custom options are always available; for more information about my print production and finishing options, please visit my Fine Art Print Info page.

Pukekura Park | New Plymouth, New Zealand

Over the years travelling has taught me a few important lessons; I will always pack more than I end up needing, the journey is usually just as remarkable as the destination, and never, ever pass up the chance to spend a few hours in a local botanical garden.

Pukekura Park in New Plymouth, on the west coast of the Taranaki region of New Zealand’s northern island, is a lush jungle of foliage and water. I visited on a quiet Saturday morning in April, and enjoyed wandering the paths as they looped around lakes, past a waterfall, and across the beautiful red Poet’s Bridge, which dates back to 1884.

In some sections of the park, it is easy to forget that one is actually in a bustling small city; the size of the trees and depth of the fern-filled groves were captivating and invited leisurely exploration.

Emerging from a trail through one of these dense forests, a large lily-covered pond is revealed where bright blue Australasian swamphens foraged across the lily pads.

Displayed on the water is a sculpture titled ‘Aotearoa’ by Michael Smithers; Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand, meaning “land of the long white cloud”. A few days after visiting the gardens, while driving south to Wellington from New Plymouth, I saw the namesake beautiful rolling white line of clouds stretch across the landscape.

View more photos from my Pukekura Park, New Zealand experience in my archives, with selected images available for prints and licensing.

Delphinium Rain

Summer gardens here in Saskatchewan are abundant with flowers, and these pale blue and lavender delphinium blooms are from a volunteer plant in the one flower bed I have managed to tend this past year. It is a surprise every spring, as having not planted it, I easily forget that such a lovely plant is hiding, dormant between the chives and tulip bulbs all winter.

This particular stem of soft petals was broken by a heavy summer downpour during an afternoon thunderstorm. I looked out the kitchen window and saw it drooping heavily, and after the lightning subsided, went outside to see if it could be salvaged. The stalk was torn nearly through, and the flowers were drenched in rain. I cut the spike free, gently shook most of the water off, and put the two foot tall tower of pastel blooms in a vase.

The clearing storm provided soft, diffused light and seeing how some tiny waterdrops still clung to the flower petals, I ran inside for my camera. This was a wonderful opportunity to use my macro extension tubes, and the exercise of shooting manually, leaning in and out ever so slightly to perfect the plane of focus, was an enjoyable reminder of the photographic techniques I learned when shooting film decades ago.

A selection of these lovely summer flowers have been added to my fine art prints gallery titled Bloom and the entire collection of rain-soaked delphinium blossoms can be found in the APK Photography archive gallery Flowers & Plants.

Rare Iris Series

Of all the flowers I collected and grew in my coastal California garden, this dark, mysterious iris was an all-time favorite. The colors of the petals were so rich, so unusual, when I found the plant for sale at a native plant nursery, I knew I had to have it.

For several seasons it bloomed happily in the shaded patch of bulbs and lilies near my front door, and on a softly overcast day I knelt in the rich soil to capture these photos of my rare iris. To this day, I have not been able to pin down an exact name (identifications welcome!) and my best guess, based on provenance, is some variety of Pacific Coast Iris, possibly ‘New Blood’. Regardless, I will forever be hoping to find this variety again, as these maroon deep purple shades are rare in the flowering world, and made even more striking by the flames of golden orange and yellow in the center.

Native iris, detail

These three images are now available as fine art prints, and can be found in my Botanical Prints collection – custom sizing and styles are always available, please use the Contact form to reach me and we will work together to bring these dramatic, stunning iris flowers to life once more!

Paeonia, peony, perfection

Is there any flower more beautiful than the peony, bursting with elegant, ruffled petals? Each bloom is at once refined and tousled, often softly fragrant, and so quick to fade as the heat of summer overtakes the blushing warmth of late spring. I’ll just let these macro and abstract peony photos speak for themselves…

Pink peony macro (2)
Pink peony macro #1

All of these dreamy peony close-up photos are available as prints, and if you’d like a custom size or print style, please use the Contact form to reach me, I’d be thrilled to help bring these incredible flowers to life for you!

Lithops, Flowering Stone

Of all plants, succulents are among the most varied and unusual to have found a place in my garden. They offer a range of colors, textures, shapes and sizes that make for particularly interesting macro photography.

Lithops plants are native to South Africa, and resemble the pebbles and rocky landscape in which they evolved. They seem to be forgiving houseplants, and bloomed often in the mild coastal climate of Monterey, California.

These two macro images are a Lithops plant at different stages of blooming. The leaves look like pale green rocks, and the flower emerges as a tightly held bud, with hints of the vibrantly colored petals about to unfold as the flower opens.

Lithops flower macro
Macro of a tiny succulent flower, bursting with little orange petals

Macro of succulent lithops flower
Macro of blooming Lithops flower petals

Both of these images have been added to my Open Edition Square Prints gallery, and to find more unique botanical images and photographs of succulents, please visit the archives at apkphotography.com.

 

Ravishing ranunculus

Ravishing ranunculus, originally uploaded by A.p.K.

The colours that emerge in nature are sometimes so startlingly brilliant, it can be impossible to look away. These floral beauties grow in my garden, and the blended shades of fuchsia, scarlet, orange and gold rival even the most technicolor sunset skies.

One of many such stunning blooms available for licensing and as fine art floral prints.