Merry Christmas

23 12 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

PF2013-en

( Nativity set by Aarikka, Finland )





Colours or B&W?

30 09 2012

I have usually pretty clear vision of how a photo should look like after processing and it was the same in case of this ‘mum photo. I wanted to add it to my growing series of photos in high-key look. Processing itself was rather easy with cloning out specks as the most time-consuming part. After all, the photo looked like I planned.

~ This Way (BW) ~
1/25 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

Chrysanthemums are great flowers for many reasons. For me it’s because they start blooming in late summer and lasts through autumn until first frost and because of their blossom structure. I really like all those layers of petals which unfold slowly as if hiding some precious treasure in the very center. If I was a bee those petals would be like a highway for me. A highway leading me to the center of heaven.

When I had the photo processed I started wondering  how it would look like with colours back so I tried it and that was my damnation.

Now I can’t decide which version I like more. At least I can ask you. Which version do YOU like more and why?

Indian summer is in the air. Enjoy!





Dilemma of processing (Marigold post)

4 09 2012

Maybe you know this, too. You take photos but you don’t have time to process them all, you take new ones and the older ones stack on your hard disk. I try to process photos soon enough but I have always some older photos while taking the newest. And those newest ones are always most alluring, stealing most of my thoughts and photography mind so it’s really hard to get to processing older photos. On the other hand I like some older photos so much that I’m dragged to them also. It’s like an eternal struggle in my mind. To make it even more complicated sometimes some older so-far-unprocessed photo stuck in my head calling for processing all the time but I don’t know HOW to process it. I know what the results should look like, what atmosphere I want to put in it but the “how” comes after some time usually. After months sometimes. Anyway, I must say that the discipline and order win mostly and I process photos from the oldest ones as it was also with these marigold photos. How do you do it? What is your approach?

~ Marigold Fan ~
1/13 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8 (+f/8), ISO 100

Marigolds, from genus Tagetes, are very common garden flowers where I live. You can find them almost in every garden or even in pots on balconies through cities. People like them even though they don’t smell very nice what lead people to call them commonly as “smelies” or “stinkies”. To me the smell is not so unpleasant but it is very strong and persisting. I never had any interest in these low-grade flowers (how I perceived them) until maybe 2 years back. By then I started to look at them for their look itself and I started to like them mostly for their colours and various blossom structures. There is not a big variety in colours, mostly they are in hues of yellow through orange to red but what I like the most is the contrast between edges of petals and the rest of petals like it is in photos in this post.

~ Tiny Harpoons ~
1/30 sec. @ 100 mm, f/5.6, ISO 100

But it’s not only edges of petals what makes these flowers look interesting, some blossoms have also greatly detailed centers as it is in photo above (click on it to see all details in larger format).

The official czech name for this flower is “Aksamitník” which could be translated to English as something like “velveteen flower” as the root of the czech name is “aksamit” = “velveteen”. I guess that the name comes from the structure of the petals and how smooth they are on touch. There is even one more informal name we use for this flower which could be translated as “an African” with the same meaning as a person born in Africa but spelled differently. When I did small research on these flowers I found out that some sources state Mexico as a land of origin to these flowers, while other sources state USA and South America and some even Africa. According to wikipedia one Tagetes specie, Tagetes minuta, “is now a naturalized species in Africa, Hawaii, and Australia, and is considered an invasive species – weed in some regions.” So our common name “an African” is strongly misleading. Still it is the mostly used.

~ Blues and Oranges ~
1/30 sec @ 100 mm, f/2.8 (+f/4), ISO 100

Marigold is not only pretty flower, it has much wider use. As it supposedly deter some insect pests it is planted together with some vegetables for which insect pests have weakness. Such a vegetable is tomato, potato, egg-plant and others. You probably wouldn’t guess that essential oil gained from Tagetes minuta is used in perfume industry and even as a flavouring in food and tobacco industries. A colouring gained from Tagetes erecta is used in European Union in food industry while in USA it is approved only as a colouring for poultry feed. Interesting, isn’t it?

Now few words about the photos accompanying this post. The first one is about colour contrast between edges of petals and the rest of petals as well as about structure of petals which in some species resembles a fan. The second photo is about centre of the blossom and even though I like photos with higher contrast and darker tones, I think that this little bit washed out processing suits it well. The most difficult part of processing was unification of background which was slightly green and the stem of the flower which was slightly blue. Third photo is again about petal edges but also about structure of  whole blossoms of Tagetes patula. The blueish stem is left here as it nicely stands out against flowers in background. I really like this orange-blue combination as it is not commonly seen in nature. The last photo is a square crop of the third one. In case of first and third photo I used 2 photos for the final result – a photo with shallow DOF as a basis and a photo with higher f-stop number for sharper details in the edges.

Let me know which photo you like most and why.

Enjoy the coming indian summer!





Twists of (Photography) Life / Lavender post

24 08 2012

It is over a month since my Zenfolio account expired and I decided not to reactivate it. I had subscribed to them a year ago when my photography goal was to get to international market. This goal was dismissed in later part of previous year, though, as I wanted to focus more on my family. Isn’t it ironic that it was not before I cancelled my Zenfolio account when I sold my first photos of this year? Moreover, it was through a web where I hadn’t sold anything until now, that’s in last 2 years? Not mentioning that appx. in the same time I received a proposal from a NY gallery to display my work (OK, supposedly a vanity gallery so I rejected the offer – which was overpriced anyway) and a request for special photo from my good friend. If these late actions should have changed my mind about leaving international photography market, well, they didn’t. Sometimes there’s nothing else but smile upon such twists of our lives. And by the way, those sold photos were from the peony triptych posted last time here.

~ Lavender Bowl ~
0.3 sec. @ 100 mm, f/8, ISO 100

Now about lavender photos of which accompany this post. Lavender. The flower with intoxicating smell and evoking summer. I tried to take photos of this purple beauty several times but never with any pleasing result. When my wife was cutting the first flowers this year I gave it another try. I tied the fresh flowers to small bouquet and tried to take photos of them with different subjects. A wooden bowl from Ikea won after all. I processed photo above with an intention to give it a summer “burned” look. Like an old photo left behind a glass somewhere at home.

~ Lavender Bowl 2 ~
1.6 sec. @ 100 mm, f/20, ISO 100

This is a photo of the same arrangement as in the first photos, just another clip and processing emphasizing the saturated purple colour. Shadows are quite dark here because the light coming from the window was on the right side but this is the best I achieved no matter how hard I tried.

~ Lavender Ribbon ~
1/30 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100
~ Tied Tight ~
1/8 sec. @ 100, f/5.6, ISO 100

I think that the two photos above could make a nice diptych (however not so close to each other) but they can stand quite well also alone. The focus here is more on the ribbon and even though the lavender is only partially in the frame or even focus, it’s still her who plays the main role.

I saw a lot of photos of lavender posies and so I tried to capture it differently. You are judges.

Have a great rest of the summer!

P.S. I have photos for coming posts already so it’s only a matter of time when I will get to process them.





Peony triptych

22 06 2012

Peonies are another flowers of which I didn’t take any decent photos in past years. The right time for them is over for this year but this time I took something presentable. I was always discouraged to photograph them maybe because they are usually swarmed by ants or maybe because they bloom so shortly. Whole peony brush blooms out in couple of days.

Click on each photo to see them in higher resolution for best details. The bigger the better it looks.

~ Petal by Petal ~
1/40 (0.3) sec @ 100 mm, f/2.8 (f/10), ISO 100

My wife cut one bud (it’s perhaps the only way how to get a blossom without ants) and put it into vase so I had time to shoot it inside. I was surprised how quickly the “inner petals” open. When taking the photo above, I took it several times with different apertures and even though the photos were taken only in span of seconds, it was nicely noticable how the petals open. This photo is a trick for your eyes, it’s a combination of two shots, one with aperture f/10 used for parts in focus and complemented by out of focus areas from a photo taken on f/2.8. Now you may be wondering why I simply did not use only the shot with f/2.8 and my answer is that it just didn’t look right. I really like these curvy fragile inner petals and I think that they look best not yet fully open.

~ Guardians of the Sweet Mana ~
1 sec @ 100 mm, f/14, ISO 100

This is another view on those beautifully coloured petals. I love how there is always another row of them after previous one. Like, like… well, shark teeth probably isn’t best for copmparison but it’s the only one coming to my mind. The title I used relates to the popularity of this flower among ants. There must be something amazingly delicisous inside of them.

~ Shades of pink ~
1 sec @ 100 mm, f/14, ISO 100

Another different angle of view on this wonderful flower. Is it bothering that not everything is in focus?

When I was post processing these photos I watched them aligned in a row and I noticed that they make a nice triptych. It’s not perfect but I think it really matches together. What do you think?

~ Peony triptych ~

That is all for today, more photos are waiting for processing

Have a wonderfull summer time (and midsummer by the way) and do not forget to practice with your camera.

Technical information: all photos in this post were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens mounted to a tripod, under natural conditions, indoors.





Season of Irises

3 06 2012

A season of irises is here again as every year. For maybe 3 previous years I tried to photograph irises and never ended up with publishing-worthy images. This year I try again and I already have some hopefully decent photos which I dare to publish in this post.

Irises are interesting, very varying flowers spread almost worldwide. From short to tall, from smaller to bigger, from wild to cultivated, irises are one of the most frequent flowers in our gardens together with tulips and roses. Their colours vary from pure white to very dark, almost black varieties and multicoloured cultivars are common. Iris blossoms usually last several days but we can find differences also here as some are so fragile that even harsh sun, wind or rain harms them while other are still beautiful even after strong rain.

We had 3 varieties in previous years – fragile white/yellow, strong yellow/orange and quite fragile violet/yellow cultivar named “Mary Todd”. It seems that the strong variety haven’t survived last harsh winter and “Mary Todd” had only couple blossoms destroyed by rain very soon. The fragile white/yellow variety has been in great condition last weeks, having more than dozen blossoms so I waited for any opportunity to take photos of them. Some opportunities were ruined by bad weather but I managed to take couple photos during previous week and also during past weekend.

~ Iris Sprout ~
1/50 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

This variety has pronounced veining in lower petals and whole blossom plays with white and yellow hues. Blossoms are rather small and very fragile with thin petals which often become translucent after couple days or rain. Their days of this year are almost gone.

When looking for suitable composition I decided to take some details of these beautiful flowers as they are often depicted with whole blossoms in a frame. I named the photo above “Iris Sprout” because the “beard” looks like a new small plant to me. Actually, as I am looking at it now, it reminds me willow catkins.

I am aware of the photo being a bit dull but no matter how hard I tried I wasn’t able to process it so that the contrast would be still good, the brightest parts white and veining not too dark.

~ Irisfall ~
1/30 (1/8) sec @ 100 mm, f/4 (f/8), ISO 100

I like the “misty” look of this photo and therefore the name “Irisfall” as a version to waterfall. With water being falling in a waterfall it would be more correct to name this “Beardfall” but I like “Irisfall” more. Always when I watch this photo, it looks to me like the beard is rolling through a valley and falls down the steep bank, creating a mist which is raising above the fall and illuminating whole valley with gold. But maybe it’s only me, dwelling too much in worlds of fantasy.

To achieve a bit deeper DOF in area of beard I combined 2 images – shallow f/4 photo as a basis and f/8 photo from which I carefully transferred part of the beard.

I’m not sure if I will get to taking another photos of this iris yet this year but if not, then in next year, I guess. Fortunately, we bought another iris variety this year and it only starts blooming these days. It has unique apricot-orange colour, strong smell of grapefruits and it belongs to the strong varieties blossoming nicely even after hard rain. The flower is packed with buds so I guess that I’ll have enough fun with it. Actually, I hoped that a blossom will open during past weekend but it didn’t until Sunday evening and that was too late.

Have a nice week and … thanks Tracy for inspiration!

Technical information: all photos in this post were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens mounted to a tripod, under natural conditions, outdoors.





Springtime

21 05 2012

Another month has passed and I had only one new photo to post.

~ Born To Be Wild ~
1/3 sec. @ 100 mm, f/5.6, ISO 100

My wife bought these tulips some 2 months ago. It wasn’t really possible to guess their colour(s) but those ruffled petal edges looked interesting to her. When they opened I really liked the torn edges and colourful blossoms with bright yellow centers and red petals or green petals with red streaks in them as you can see it on the photo. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any suitable composition without the pistils which may seems as distracting to someone. The photo was taken with afternoon sun behind the flower making the colours really glow.

With nice almost summer weather of last weeks I went outside with a camera couple times to practice but guess what, wind, the spoiler of good photography has been blowing almost all the time! Sometimes so strongly that it did not make sense to go outside with camera at all, sometimes so slightly that not a leave stirred but still too strongly for persisting a fragile flower under 1/100 of second. So after some attempts and failures I decided to work through older unprocessed images and found this one of lily pistils.

~ From A Hand ~
1/8 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

I liked the unusually colourful petals which makes nice background in my opinion. The pistils looks to me like an open 6-finger hand from which center grows the stigma. With the bright fresh colours reminding me a spring it matches the tulip photo above even though the processing and feel of both photos differes a lot. At least they match in my eyes.

Have a wonderful springtime!

Technical information: all photos in this post were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens mounted to a tripod, under natural conditions, indoors.








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