Revisiting subject

20 01 2012

Originally I wanted to name this post Cool colours in warm winter because we have exceptionally warm winter this year but then the day after taking the photo which is accompanying this post we got snow and it lasts for more than a week now. So let’s leave the title and move to the real content of this post.

If you are taking photos for longer time you have probably came through the situation when you would like to take a photo of a subject which you photographed in past or it just happens that such a subject lands in front of your lens. Then you probably know that if you tend to investigate the subject very well, as I do, it is more complicated next time. The truth is that there are subjects which are so variable that you can take a photo of them every time and it will be always a little bit different. This is valid for subjects with complicated structures and as I am a flower photographer a nice example of such a subject for me are roses as every single rose has differently folded petals and they exist in uncountable amount of colour varieties. Then there are subjects which look like the same but you can add difference by changing background and angle of view. Such a subject is for example cyclamen. And then there are subjects which are more complicated and it takes time to take a photo in a different, previously not taken way. I found this challenge with hyacinth this year.

Hyacinths exists in five colour variants (white, yellow, pink, burgundy red and blueish violet), as far as I know. Beside colour the flower as such looks always the same. A cluster of trumpet-shaped blossoms placed one next to each other. Two years ago I examined a white hyacinth from bigger distance and took a photo of more flowers in this cluster resulting in this photo. Last year I examined pink variety more closely, resulting in this series of photos. This year I finally got a blue/violet variety which I always wanted to have. BUT, when I started to examine it with a camera on a tripod I was surprised how difficult it was to find something appealing this time. I found several compositions but they were mostly copies of the photos which I took last year. After some 15-20 minutes and couple of not-fully-satisfying captures I found one which I really liked.


~ Cool Hyacinth ~
0.3 @ 100 mm, f/2.8 ISO 100

The flower was placed in contra light so the blossoms in direct light turned slightly to blue whereas blossoms in a shade turned out in violet and the colour combination was really interesting; the shade of blue reminds me colour of icebergs. I decided to go with fully open aperture to get as much smooth colours as possible and I think that it turned out really well. It reminds me a pastel drawing. As usually I took this photo also with higher f-stops and later I layered together the one taken at f/2.8 with one taken at f/10 and I used the latter one to paint pistils with more details into the softer one (layered and painted in Photoshop).

So after all I ended up with a photo which does not look like any photo of a hyacinth I took so far and that’s exactly what was aiming for.

Even though revisiting the same subject in photography may seem as tedious or boring, I find it challenging and I think that it is great for training photography eye and creativity. Try it, it’s fun!

Technical information: the photo 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.





Succulent in infrared

13 01 2012

We renovated and partly rebuilt our living in autumn 2010 but our living room was not completed yet last summer. We wanted to hang some 2 vertical photos above the sofa and we were thinking about something elegant, perhaps in black and white. Moreover, we wanted the phtos to have some link, perhaps presenting the same subject. Of course that I wanted to use my photos but as no 2 were suitable for this I had to make some new ones.

I was drawn to succulents in our garden (Sempervivum tectorum to be exact) by that time, observing simple, yet elegant, lines of their leaves. One day I finally decided to take some photos of them and started processing them immediately. Have you ever realized how much dirt is on the flower having its leaves only couple centimetres above the ground? I had to clone out around 100 specks on each photo! When photos where “clean” enough I tried different presets in Lightroom and really liked what infrared preset did with photos. A light touch of sepia and it was ready.


0.6 sec. @ 100 mm, f/22, ISO 100


1/4 sec. @ 100 mm, f/16 ISO 100

Even though I was really happy with the result after some time of watching the photos we decided to not hang them because if you observe it for a while you will notice tiny thorns on edges of leaves and it doesn’t evoke pleasant feelings. So after all we chose different solution but I still like these photos and therefore I want to share them here with you.

If you wonder what was the final solution, it couldn’t have been more different. We selected 8 photos from my collection, four in white tones, other four quite colourful and we put them together so that it makes a somewhat compact unit. This is nice example of how initial idea can change radically and still be acceptable.

Let me know if you like these photos with inverted-like feel and enjoy the winter until that time.

Technical information: photos in this post were taken with camera Canon EOS 450 and Canon EF 100mm USM f/2.8 macro lens, mounted on a tripod, under natural conditions, outdoors.