Spring Walk

Our neighborhood is coming alive with Spring.  Oaks and Maples are almost fully open, Daffodils are long gone and the Azaleas are in full bloom.  Just before dinner, we took a much welcome walk, been spending too much time in my office chair.  Took along a camera and made a few stops along the way.

1. Blue Clematis: Top lit with the soft diffuse light of open shade, medium key.01 Loop WalkSpotted this single Blue Clematis at the base of a mailbox.  The street was heavily shaded and protected from a windy afternoon.  This is an easy exposure that the camera meter will usually get right.  I could get close since my lens has a MFD ( Minimum Focus Distance) of 12″. I used  the maximum aperture of f4 to emphasize the center or the “star” in sharper focus from the rest of the “supporting cast”.  Shutter speed of 1/200 was plenty fast for still air.  That left me with an essentially noise free ISO 800.  Had I used my Incident Meter, which I leave set at ISO 100, it would have read an EV (Exposure Value) of 9 or -6 Stops from EV 15 aka Sunny 16 Rule.

Near our front door, Azaleas are blooming.  Common in the American South, I never tire of them.  Originally from Asia and I felt connected when I saw some walking down a residential street in Japan.  My photographs of them still haven’t captured their iridescence and textures so I keep trying.

2. Hybrid Encore Azalea: Back Light, hard direct sun, high contrast, low key.02 Loop Walk3. Hybrid Encore Azalea: Front light, hard direct sun, high contrast, low key.03 Loop WalkThese were lit with the hard, directional sun of late afternoon which will provide some modelling vs the flat overhead light of mid-day. Open to the wind, I needed a fast shutter speed to prevent blur, even as I waited between gusts.  I had no flash to stop movement.  I stopped down to f8 for more DoF ( Depth of Field) as I wanted the blossom to be sharp from front to back.  It would be the “Star”.  Leaving my ISO at 800, I bumped my Shutter Speed up until the Histogram looked good and it was fast enough to freeze the wind motion.

Number 2 is back lit so the sun shines through the translucent blossom, letting us see how it grows. It helps show the iridescence.

Number 3 is front lit (I simply moved around) and is how most will photograph the blossom.

During editing, I got rid of background distractions, especially bright spots that take attention away from the “Star” and branches that lead the eye out of the frame.  The goal is to keep impact by not diluting the dominant element and maintaining interest in the entire composition.  It can’t be too busy or too sterile.  It needs to be like the temperature of Goldilocks porridge, “just right”.

Gear used in this post: Pentax K5IIs camera, Pentax 17-70/4 lens.

Editing Tools used in this post: Adobe CC2015, Nik Collection, Pixel Genius Photokit, Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet, Pantone Huey Pro

 

Three Roses

On a morning walk after an overnight rain, I found these next to neighborhood mailboxes.

A gray, over cast day with its soft, diffuse light makes an easy exposure.  My eight year old Tamron 28-75/2.8 lens lets me focus as close as 12″.  That’s 12″ to the film plane or sensor in the camera.  At that distance, wide open at f2.8  and zoomed out to 75mm. a Depth of Field Calculator said my DoF was .05″. At 16″, it was .1″ DoF.  I believe that because I had to back up a little, it was very thin to hand hold.

My intent was to just get an edge or a hint of focused color and rain and let the background go soft with high contrast, to isolate the single blossom from the background. The mulch & mailbox posts share none of the elegance of the roses.

These are really a sketchpad, serendipity.  More carefully made versions would involve a tripod, remote release and Mirror Lock Up with a multi second delay.  And maybe some lighting. This is the large news print pad, Conte crayon version but that’s where you learn to draw.

All images are top lit with soft diffuse light, low key and high contrast.   001 28-75 4768

002 28-75 4765 003 28-75 4769

High, Low and Long

Our Butterfly Bush is getting sparse and so are the Butterflies it attracts.  And I’ve been scaring off the visitors with my presence.  A perfect Red Spotted Purple was gone in a moment this morning, just as I approached.  I wanted to try standing off with my longest lens at 300mm + 1.5x Teleconvertor for a total of 450mm.  Trade offs are 6′ minimum focus distance and f22.  Depth of Field would only be about a 1/2″ at 6 Feet, 3/4″at 8 ft..

Other than a few Skippers and Carpenter Bees, the only visitor for the better part of an hour was a Blue Dasher Dragonfly.  The good news is, you have a chance to establish focus because they land and stay still.  The bad news is,  trying to hold focus by hand at 450mm with all that weight and mass and not much DoF is wildly optimistic.  In hindsight, I’d have been on a tripod with a loose ball head but didn’t because I expected to be moving around and though it would be too slow to frame & focus.  Of course, had I been on tripod, butterflies would have shown up and I’d have flailed around like part of a 3 Stooges routine.

1. Dragonfly: Top lit, mid-day sun, hard light, high contrast, high key

001 100-300 + TC 6097

2. Dragonfly: Top lit, mid-day sun, hard light, high contrast, low key

002 100-300 + TC 6094_1

My model did cooperate in that he gave me two lighting setups, one high key and one low key.  In this case, the model moved (flew) so the background changed.  The last time I did this was a portrait session.  We finished the high key on white with soft light (umbrellas) and switched out the background to black and went to hard light (bare flash)  with snoots.

Exposure was easy.  Lens at f22 but actually f32 due to a 1 stop loss from the TC.  Lots of light, so Sunny 16 as a baseline.  Plenty of shutter speed to help with the really long lens, varying a stop or two, depending on open shade or pointed at sky.  Moved ISO between 400 & 800, shutter speed between 1/800 and 1/1000 sec..  Of the two images I kept, one was a stop over and the other a stop under but both in the ballpark.  At relatively low ISO’s, plenty of Dynamic Range with RAW files, easy to recover and keep image quality.

One other camera feature I rarely use was shutter burst mode.  Today, I’d establish focus and fire 3 or 4 frames, trying to compensate for my movement.  I have in body stabilization, so that helped.  Out of 112, I kept these two. Pushing thing as I was, it’s tough to handhold and you won’t do it for long.  And I just remembered my monopod!

Gear used in this post: Pentax K5IIs camera, Sigma 100-300/4 lens,  Kenko 1.5x TC.

Editing Tools used in this post: Adobe CC2015, Nik Collection, Pixel Genius Photokit, Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet, Pantone Huey Pro