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  Field Notes From
The Big Bloom



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On Assignment
Arrows
View Field Notes
From Author
Michael Klesius



On Assignment
View Field Notes
From Photographer

Jonathan Blair



In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Brian Strauss (top), Jonathan Blair
 

On Assignment On Assignment On Assignment
The Big Bloom

Field Notes From Photographer
Jonathan Blair
Best Worst Quirkiest
This assignment took me around the world, and I’d never done that before. Everyone should do it at least once. My 20-year-old son accompanied me as my assistant. It was a real gift to have him working beside me as we photographed some of the world’s most unusual plants.

I missed the chance to photograph the world’s largest flower, Rafflesia arnoldii, also called the stinking corpse lily because of its overwhelming odor. I had traveled halfway around the world to Malaysia to see it, but it was not to happen. When I arrived at the place where the flower grew, I was told that the villagers had hacked it off and eaten it.

I wanted to photograph long-tongued flies while in Namaqualand, South Africa, a region north of Cape Columbine where wildflowers grow. The fly’s body is about an inch long, but its tongue is three times that. It flies around with its tongue curled up. When it finds a flower it likes, it uncurls its and sticks it down the flower. Bruce Anderson, my guide, took me to all of these great spots to find them, but no matter where we looked we couldn’t locate a single one. Finally, we just gave up and started the daylong drive back to home base. Suddenly Bruce spotted the flies buzzing around some flowers on the side of the road. They couldn’t have been in a worse place. They were zooming between flowers that were only about a quarter of an inch in diameter growing about three feet (one meter) from the edge of a highway. Big double-trailer trucks whizzed by us. I had a wild time trying to photograph flies that went out of focus every time a truck passed by.





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