Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Say it with flowers...and light

Photography has been a steep learning curve for me, some things I've learned by making mistakes (a lot of them), some I have gleaned from the expertise of other photographers.  The main lesson I've learned?    Photography is all about light, so before you start snapping, THINK ABOUT THE LIGHT.  (Did you know that Einstein called photographers 'Light Monkeys'? I love that!).

So, questions to ask yourself: What kind of light is it? Where is it coming from?  How can you best use it for the effect you're after?  Do you need to add any more to it?  The angle and position you take an image from with regards to the light can make all the difference to the mood and feel of your shot.  If you want a shot to have an emotional resonance in the viewer you have to create the right mood with light and composition and processing, then if you're lucky the magic happens.

On to the flowers... 

Flowers 1

To take this I had the vase of flowers next to the french doors on an overcast day, and shot into the light to give a luminous feel to the petals.  I could have used a reflector to bounce some light onto the darker side of the image, but I wanted contrasting shade.  I got my willing assistant to mist the flowers with water and shot at 1/1000 to catch the droplets, with an aperture of f/1.8 because I needed a lot of light to use that fast a shutter speed, and also because I wanted a shallow depth of field.  The ISO was 2500 which gives a touch of graininess that I like in monotone shots. 

Flowers 4

Same flowers, different kettle of fish.  Much as I would love a macro lens I can't justify the price, so have to make do with a +4 filter and a +10 which screw onto the front of my 18-55 lens.  Liking the water droplets left from the first shot I wanted to feature them in more detail, and took this with the light coming from my right.  You need a greater depth of field for macros so I shot this at f/9 at 1/80 and an ISO of 3200.  It's all about trade offs - you narrow the aperture and you have to either slow the shutter speed down or up the ISO (or a combination of both) to get the same exposure.  Macros require a very steady hand or a tripod, oh and hold your breath when you press the shutter, the slightest movement will mean an out of focus shot.  You can also lock your camera's mirror up so that it doesn't cause unnecessary movement.

Flowers 5
Another against the light shot...

Flower cream 6

And now heading toward the dark side... these were also taken with the macro filter but I wanted much grainier, impressionistic shots so underexposed them.

Flower cream 3

I always shoot in RAW and usually process in LightRoom.  I did have a play around with one of the above shots though and exported from LightRoom to Elements, added a texture, then imported it back to LightRoom and added a sepia tone.

27 comments:

Kathy said...

Wow Barb...as I scrolled down and looked at each picture I thought "THIS one is my fav"...only to change my mind when the next photo appeared. Crazy fantastic!

RuneE said...

A very nice course in macro photography, and with outstanding examples. Makes me want to do more macros.

Mitzi said...

these are all stunning images! Visiting from the hop! Happy Wednesday!

jabblog said...

Wonderful shots all worthy of framing and displaying on the walls of your home:-)

Jennifer said...

Please join us each Friday for Photog Friday at www.photogfriday.blogspot.com
for those who enjoy and want to share beautiful photography. Share your photos from the week and connect with other photogs.

And be sure to sign up on our site to get an email notice when the next Photog Friday is live.

The Silver Bunny said...

I don't understand the lingo but those pictures put me into a trance ....

Tina´s PicStory said...

very lovely! :)

Birgitta said...

Wonderful shots!

helena said...

lovely shots, especially with the water drops

Anki-itte said...

Intresting pictures and what you say about light.

momphotographer said...

yes, yes, yes... life is the essence, and you use if beautifully!

colleen said...

So delicate and reminds me of winter snow. http://looseleafnotes.com

Miriam said...

Your images are all beautiful, I really love pictures of flowers with water droplets, I think it takes the picture to another dimension.

Emily S said...

Beautifully done! I have learned that I do have to hold my breath when taking some shots as I do not have a steady hand at all!

Ida said...

These are lovely. I think my favorites were the soft pink edit and the last creamy colored edit. Both are just dreamy.

Nina Bille said...

Absolutely beautiful! My favorite is the one with raindrops... Thank you for sharing your thoughts on light, and the processing with ISO. I have just and ordinary point & Shoot camera, I look forward to the day when I get at DSRL, where I can regulate the light in a whole new way ;-)

Bonnie said...

Stunning photography - especially those shot into the light. Thank you for sharing your process with us and for linking up with Photo Art Friday, Barbara.

Currie Silver said...

this was sheer pleasure & deLIGHT!!

Andrea Dawn said...

Great set of photos . . . really enjoyed them.

William Kendall said...

Beautiful shots!

Kerri said...

Outstanding images!

Laloofah said...

Well of course, most of this goes right over my head at this embryonic stage of my photography learnin', but I'm going to stash this post in my growing collection of "stuff I'm going to want/need to know" and I thank you for taking the time to explain and demonstrate these techniques.

I usually do pay attention to the light, but only in a vague and intuitive sense, which sometimes serves me and sometimes falls short.

"Light monkeys!" I love that too! :-)

My favorite photos are the first and third. The first is magical and the third is just plain gorgeous - those petals look like silk fabric being ruffled by the wind. Amazing!!

The whole idea of shooting in RAW completely baffles and intimidates me at this point. And what does this mean... "You can also lock your camera's mirror up" What mirror? Do all DSLR cameras have mirrors? I've never noticed one on mine, unless I'm just not getting the lingo. Can I check my hair in it when I'm out taking photos? :-)

Barbara said...

You crack me up :O)))

Barbara said...

Before you start doing your 'mirror, mirror on the wall' thing, here's everything you needed to know about the one in a dslr
http://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/23213/how-does-the-mirror-in-a-dslr-operate

Barbara said...

... and a bit more.
http://www.cameratechnica.com/2011/04/26/dslr-mirror-lock-up-worth-the-effort-or-not/

Barbara said...

And thanks all for your comments - Silver Bunny, just ignore the boring bits and focus on the flowers :O))

edenhills said...

Amazing macro shots! You certainly have mastered the use of light.

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