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Earlier this year, when I was browsing the internet for information on which roses to plant, I came across a photo of a purple rose. What I was browsing specifically for were images taken by gardeners of Lady of Shalott, an orange English garden rose. I wanted to see how it looked, as grown by everyday gardeners. What I stumbled upon, was a photo of Lady of Shalott, taken at a garden show, with the most incredible purple rose behind it. What was that spectacular purple thing?! There was no information. Disappointed, I scoured the garden sites, looking up roses listed as purple. Nope, nope, nope… *sigh* I gave up. I did go ahead with Lady of Shalott, and along with some other roses, also ordered Ebb Tide for contrast, expecting a somewhat fuchsia to magenta color in full bloom.

You see, I had forgotten the curse of photographing purple… It’s tough to capture shades of violet, especially digitally. Whether it be mauve hues or a deep purple, it’s a challenge to capture it as our eye sees it. If you have a decent camera, and tons of time to manually tinker with its settings and shoot tests, you might capture it accurately. Sadly, the settings need to be changed every time the lighting circumstances do, and even then, it’s not perfect. If you look at a digital color chart, you’ll find that that elusive purpley violet color is just a tiny blip on the radar. As such, the camera looks for something it thinks is close, and what we end up with, is a red or blue shift. Since most people, including myself, take most of their snapshots with automatic color settings, this color rarely comes across, often requiring some sort of post color correction. To top it off, when it comes to things like flowers and fabrics, the lighting plays a big role, not in just how we photograph colors, but in how we actually see them. Therefore, it’s likely that I blew right past many a spectacular purpley violet bloom during my online search.

I hadn’t thought about my search, and the purple photo challenges, until just recently. Déjà vu! I wanted to take a quick snapshot of Lady of Shalott opening one of its first blooms, and there it was in the background – that elusive purpley violet, right there on my camera! It was Ebb Tide, not pinkish or crimson, as in most online photos, but a rich, deep purple. The blooms actually began their course in bud, as sort of a pinky fuchsia color, then progressed to a magenta, and when fully opened, turned that magnificent purple. As they age, the purple turns smokey, like vintage purple print. Me lerves it. There, I had it. The same combination as the photo I had viewed months before, and quite accidentally! 🙂

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