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Old Dec 13, 2009, 7:51 PM   #1
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Default Glass Flowers

These flowers are always in bloom at the Ware Collection of Glass Flowers at the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, MA.

The Glass Flowers are the work of Leopold (father) and Rudolph (Son) Blaschka whose Studio was located in Hosterwitz, near Dresden, Germany. They fabricated flowers and model plants for the Botany Department of Harvard University so that students would have study specimens year round. They created 4,400 models in their lifetime. For 50 years they were employed full time by Harvard University. The models were made from 1886 through 1936.

When you consider the simple tools used in fabrication and the challenges of packing and shipping these specimens by sea, you begin to realize what a marvelous achievement this collection is.

This museum is one of the best kept secrets of the Boston area. I would urge anyone visiting Boston to be sure to have it on one’s “must see agenda”.

The link below is to the history of the Blaschka’s and the Ware collection. The film was made by the Corning Glass Museum (another "must see" place in Corning, NY). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHOx5H5vNx4

Picture taking was a challenge as you can see from the room shots. All the flowers are in glass cases and some of the glass was old and scratched. The ceiling was black and the collection was lighted by spots from above. The wall mounted displays were not useful as they had shadows falling across the tops of the displays due to their angular positioning.

The pictures were taken with K-7 and both the Pentax A 50mm 1.7 with CP and the Zenatar 16mm 2.8. The 50mm shots were all taken with flash bounced off the black ceiling using a Sunpack auto 383 Super Flash. I used live view for focusing. ISO 400 was used for all pictures. Tripods are not allowed, all shots were hand held.






























Last edited by Keltech; Dec 13, 2009 at 9:34 PM.
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Old Dec 13, 2009, 9:06 PM   #2
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You did an excellent job photographing and posting them here for us to enjoy Lou.
Thank you for sharing with us.
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Old Dec 13, 2009, 9:17 PM   #3
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Lou,

Having tried to photograph these myself last January, I can attest to the difficulty of the situation. Poor lighting, reflections from glass, etc as you stated.

Considering all that, you did a nice job on these. I didn't get as many keepers. If you went this weekend, it was a great time to go. Be nice and warm indoors.

Is the workbench a new part of the display? I don't remember seeing that when we were there.

Patty
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Old Dec 13, 2009, 9:31 PM   #4
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Really nice work, Lou. You did a great job on focus, which had to be difficult under the conditions.

Paul
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Old Dec 13, 2009, 10:31 PM   #5
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It's hard to believe that those flowers are glass and not real. You did a great job photographing them, they are really awesome pictures!

It's been many years since I went through the Corning museum. I do remember it's quite dramatic with the black ceiling and spot lighting - all your focus is on the displays.
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 7:17 AM   #6
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GW - Thanks for the kind comments. Hope someday you can get up here and see the flowers in person.

Patty - Thanks for the compliment. The combination of the bounce flash, CP and position at times was enough to take away the overhead spots. Sometimes no matter what, I could not avoid them.

The bench has been part of the exhibit since I was a small boy, going to see the flowers with my parents. It was not however in the room with the flowers but in the room to the left where the natural history part of the museum begins.

Paul - Thanks, focusing was a big problem due to the shallow DOF I needed to use for correct exposure. All the 50mm shots were at F2.5 and 1/250". The CP dropped the F stop down to 2. Without the use of live view I think my success rate would have been poor.

Harriet - The detail that these men put into the flowers is unbelievable. When you are viewing them in person it is hard to believe what your eyes are seeing. They even went to the extent of showing plants with diseased leaves so that the diseases could be seen by the students.

It is a shame that the two worked alone and did not apprentice anyone to continue on with the craft that they developed.

Lou
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 11:16 AM   #7
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Default These are beautiful. The museum might like to use them.

Hope you'll lend these to the museum for use in our free enewsletter occasionally. Please be in touch at [email protected].

Best,

Blue

www.hmnh.harvard.edu
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 11:26 AM   #8
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Lou, if you had said these were real flowers I'd believe it. I'm amazed that these are made of glass. And you certainly got around all the challenges posed by the difficult lighting and reflections. These are great photos of beautiful subjects. I only get to Boston a few times each year, and then it's usually the Aquarium, Faneul Hall and Quincy Market, but I will definitely add this museum to the list.
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 9:51 PM   #9
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Mtman, the pictures do not do the flowers justice, they must be seen in person. The detail is unbelieveable.

That said, if you go to visit parking is a problem. I suggest you take the T (Red Line) from downtown to Harvard Square and from there it is a short walk to the museum. Go to the HMNH web site for precise directions.

If you have any interest in minerals, gems and meteorites there is a beautiful collection
of them as well.

Lou
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Old Dec 14, 2009, 10:04 PM   #10
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Thanks for that info Lou. As it happens I was a geology major, so yes, I'm definitely interested in the minerals too.
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