Apr 26, 2010

At the Boston Arnold Arboretum

This morning I made another quick stop at the Boston Arnold Arboretum. Due to this year mild February and March the lilacs are about two weeks early and lots of them are already in glorious full spring bloom. Usually they peak around Mother's day and tons of people visit each year for a daylong celebration. Tours of the lilacs, dance performances, picnicking (allowed on this special day only), and family activities make for a remarkable and memorable day at the arboretum. Parking becomes a nightmare that weekend. Today there was no problem finding a parking spot and barely a sole was around; only the usual walkers, runners and bikers. An overcast sky with somewhat diffused sunlight provided me with a wonderful lighting condition for floral photography. The windy conditions were less favorable for flower photography and often tested my patience to the limits. After arrival I immediately made my way down Bussey Hill to the lilacs and found many in bloom. I like when there are still buds right next to the flourishing flowers; it provides the flower photograph with an extra twist. I barely used my polarizing filter today resulting in faster and improved shutter speeds. I also used large apertures settings (small f-stop) for compositional purposes minimizing depth of field and to further enhance shutter speeds. I was consistently shooting at 1/160 through 1/250 second and faster helping a lot with the windy condition and capture some sharper lilac flower images.

Apr 19, 2010

At the Boston Arnold Arboretum

Last Saturday I took some time to check on the spring blossoms at the Boston Arnold Arboretum. The park was in mid to full spring blossom bloom. After spending a couple of hours strolling along the many paths and fields I discovered a large field of early bright blue spring flowers in front of yellow Forsythia bushes. It immediately struck me as a wonderful color composition of the two complementary colors of yellow and blue. I located a blooming flower in the field that stood out in height and started composing around it. The first images were taken in harsh sunlight that blew out some of the blue colors. Soon though clouds blocked the sun awarding me with more even light that minimized bright sun spots and allowed for better color saturation. I fired a couple of rounds before adjusting my camera gear for macro flower photography. My tripod with camera was already at flower level and I switched from landscape to portrait to fully fill the frame with one of the blue flowers. Eventually the clouds passed and I was challenged once again with the harsh sunlight. Luckily I planned ahead and brought a white dish towel that I spread between the floral and the sun. The blocking towel evened out the light around the flower while the background of the yellow Forsythia bushes and green grass was fully lit by the sun. I used the camera self timer which allowed me to better adjust the towel and control the light towards the flower. The final flower photograph was taken at f/5.6 and 1/60 of a second. I overexposed by 1/3 of a stop to provide better detail and light in the shaded flower.

Apr 15, 2010

The Humbled Dandelion

Betrayed and hated, stepped on and despised, the humbled Dandelion unfolds its true beauty when discovered up close. Usually we only pay attention to a dandelion when our lawn is in danger but when I visited the Boston Arnold Arboretum the other day I came along as special setting of four that struck me as potential photography material. I was instantly attracted by the three dandelions next to each other and one not far away from them. In fact I remember thinking why not challenge yourself to make a beautiful composition out of the common triplets. So I unfolded my tripod to get really close to the ground but unfortunately the tripod head added additional heights and I did not get down to the level I wanted to be. I decided to take the camera off the tripod and use one of the tripod legs as a support to hold the camera steady. This brought me actually down to grass and dandelion level and where I wanted to be; exploring the photographic floral object. When looking through the camera I discovered the unthinkable; a truly remarkable and unexpected composition and photographic opportunity. I settled for a low aperture of f/5.6 to minimize the depth of field and focused on the third row of stamen. The resulting shutter speed of 1/500 seconds was plenty to hand hold the camera with a sturdy support. The polarizer eliminated any glare on the leaves and saturated the yellows and greens. I underexposed by 1/3 of a stop and applied minimal sharpening during post processing the image.

Apr 10, 2010

48 Beautiful Flower Photographs

In Brookline

This collection of twelve lily flower portrait and abstract photographs shows my approach to floral photography. I often start out with a flower portrait highlighting its colors and character. I usually circle the flower to look for beautiful composition and to portray the floral in its best light; showing its full beauty. From the more distant less intimate view I slowly begin to explore my photo object through my camera. I first create abstracts from the petals and then concentrate more on the pistil, anthers and filaments. When focusing closer and finding my way deeper into the flower the true beauty in all its abstract forms and colors unfolds. I never know what to expect but it is truly amazing to find these natural wonders and photograph them. In this last photograph of my lily flower collection I laid the focus on the area where the stamen and pistil combine in the ovary, unleashing an erotic sexual firework. In more technical terms I chose a 80mm lens setting at a low aperture setting of f/3.5 leading to 1/8 second shutter speed. The low light condition did not allow for a polarizing filter and a tripod provided the required stability for the low shutter speed. Exposure compensation was set to +1/3 step, slightly overexposing the image to enhance the creamy white of the lily petals and the vital green of its stamen and carpel.

Apr 2, 2010

Monthly Photo Tip - April 2010

Tips on camera noise reduction and one for positive use of camera noise:

1. Try to keep the camera ISO setting as low as possible, less than ISO 100 preferable
2. Use a high quality camera compression setting i.e. superfine
2. Use your solid tripod for low ISO settings resulting in slow shutter speeds
3. Minimize camera shaking during exposure to avoid camera blur
Provide sufficient lighting in your photographic objects to avoid long exposure times
5. Get out and try different ISO, shutter speed and aperture values for your own test shots
6. Try your camera manual for use of a camera built-in noise-reduction mode, if available
7. Download the trial versions of Noise Ninja or NeatImage software to use noise reduction software, if needed
8. Use the highest quality equipment possible, lower camera megapixel sensors tend to contribute grain like effects
9. Reverse above to increase the effect of noise and use it in a more journalistic and abstract form of photography

Photo of the Month at 20% Off - April 2010