In our garden this summer we are enjoying Balloon Flower, Platycodon grandiflorus, also called bellflower with regional modifiers, This curious flower swells quite like a balloon full of air before opening. I like the pentagram shape. It opens into a five-petaled flower, pictured below. I am not a big fan of using a flash for flower and insect photography. The harsh light leaves a tell. Sometimes though it can really make things pop vibrantly, as it has here. I usually soften it with a diffuser, but I didn’t have it along this time. To tone it down the flash effect, I stopped the flash power down three steps. It comes in a tad underexposed. However, shooting in RAW as I have come to be accustomed, the image really responds well to recovering detail in post-processing. Coming in a little underexposed helps prevent clipped highlights, too. The images were taken with a Nikon D90 and a Micro-Nikkor 60mm AF f/2.8.
The balloon flower is a perennial native to east Asia. It shows up in Japanese and Korean cultural symbology. The root is an herbal remedy in far eastern cultures as well.