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Postal News: Macro photography captures floral beauty

April 1, 2015
By PHIL WIEBOLD , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Spectacular photographs celebrate the beauty and elegance of water lilies with four new Forever stamps available nationwide.

Customers may purchase the stamps at:, the Postal Store, at (800) STAMP-24 (782-6724) and at post offices nationwide or visit: to shop for a wide variety of postage stamps and collectibles.

Art director Phil Jordan of Falls Church, Virginia, selected the images taken by Alexandria, Virginia-based photographer Cindy Dyer at the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. Each stamp depicts a close-up of the flower of one of four classic garden water lilies.

Article Photos

Water lily Forever stamps.

"It is truly a distinct honor to have an example of my passion appear on these Forever stamps - a feeling I will savor forever," said Dyer, who became entranced with garden photography more than a decade ago. "It was simply mind-boggling to learn the Postal Service printed 500 million of these stamps."

The Postal Service typically prints between 20 million and 40 million stamps of an individual subject. Half a billion Water Lilies Forever stamps were printed in anticipation of extreme customer demand.

Using a tripod, Dyer captured the images on a hot overcast July day using a Nikon D300 with a 105mm Nikkor 2.8 macro (close-up) lens. She set her exposure at f8 and 1/125th of a second with an ISO of 400.

"I used a handheld translucent diffuser (a piece of fabric stretched out on a frame) to eliminate harsh shadows and allow for a deep, even saturated color along with a remote shutter release to eliminate vibration," Dyer said.

The appreciation for the beauty of water lilies has a long history. The plants take their botanical name, Nymphaea, from the nymphs, nature deities from Greek mythology. Water lilies are featured often in the art of the Maya, an ancient Mesoamerican culture. Some of the most well-known paintings of French impressionist Claude Monet were of water lilies; the artist dedicated the last decades of his life to capturing the beauty of the lily pond on his estate in Giverny, France.

Water lilies are aquatic herbs that live in both temperate and tropical climates around the world. Found in still freshwater habitats, most of the more than 50 species of the water lily family (Nymphaeaceae) have round waxy leaves that float on the surface. They are attached to long stalks that rise from thick underwater stems.

The flowers of the hardy water lily sit at or slightly above the water's surface; the flowers of tropical water lilies, which produce more blossoms each season than the hardy variety, are held aloft on stems several inches from the surface.

Although delicate looking, the flowers are tough and hardy. They grow well in water gardens in much of the U.S. Tropical water lilies, which require water temperatures above 70 degrees, have a more limited range, but the flowers are larger and more vibrantly colored. Water lilies bloom in the U.S. from spring to fall. Many water lilies bloom only during the day, but there are several night bloomers whose flowers open in the late afternoon and close at morning's light.

Phil Wiebold is a spokesman for U.S. Postal Service.



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