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.





The Nature Conservancy Photo Contest 2011

21 07 2011

I informed about the TCN Photo contest previous year and now it is here again. Here goes the message:

The Nature Conservancy is holding its 6th Annual Digital Photo Competition. This year, it’s easier than ever to enter using your Facebook log-in info – http://photocontest.nature.org/ or through The Nature Conservancy’s Flickr Group – http://my.nature.org/photography/flickr.html.

Original digital photos that feature the natural wonders of the lands, waters, plants, animals and people around the world are all eligible for the competition.

This year at least 35 photos will be selected as honorable mentions and finalists, and our online community will vote for their favorite images to determine the winners. The grand prize winner will be featured on the cover of the 2013 Nature Conservancy calendar.

This competition is open to all photographers age 18 years or older regardless of residence or citizenship, as long as the laws of their jurisdiction allow participation. Photo submissions must be uploaded by 11:59 pm PST Monday, September 12, 2011.

For more details, please visit http://photocontest.nature.org/ and feel free to contact me with your questions.

Consider your participation.


~ Crucifiction ~
0.8  sec. @ 100 mm, f/14, ISO 100

When I was looking for a photo to accompany this message I came up across this one which wasn’t posted , yet. It is direct shot of central part of Miltonia orchid blossom. The flower was on a windowsill backlit by afternoon sun light. I was amazed by the patterns and colours.

Have a nice rest of the week!

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





No unsuitable subjects

3 07 2011

You see something and tell yourself “This would be a great subject for a photo!”or the opposite “This wouldn’t make for a decent photo”. I guess you all know this. During past months I’ve learned that there are NO unsuitable subjects. You can take a decent photo of any subject you find. It’s only about time and creativity.

Now let’s speak about flowers. Some of them are naturally more appealing than others and then it will be probably easier to take a nice photo of them. If it comes to the originality of such a photo, well, it will probably take you a little bit more time to come up with original photo of an appealing flower but on the other hand there are beautiful flowers of which taking original photos isn’t easy at all, for example orchids. And then there are flowers which might not be much appealing, I bet everyone has some. I personally don’t like pansies. They are so fragile, so flat, so… boring! But it’s their season now and so I decided to give them a try. We have 2 colour varieties in our garden and it’s nice that each blossom is a little bit different from others even in one colour variety. I wanted to have an original photo so I was looking for different composition than I saw already on web and I came up with very close close-up. Pansies have nice small details if you take a look at them closely but I wanted something original so I decided to convert photo into painting using Snap Art 2 plug-in for Photoshop. I used “oil on canvas” setting as this matched best to the subject. Click on photo for bigger image with more details.


~Like a Butterfly ~
1/2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/20, ISO 100

One advice if you decide to photograph pansies, take a fresh blossoms and not after rain otherwise you will spend hours in photo editor cloning out all the specks, especially from dark parts.

Another flower which I saw as unsuitable for decent photos is petunia. It nicely beautifies our windows but when it comes to taking nice and original photo of it, well, I didn’t think it will work. Then I saw a great photo of petunia on flickr and I decided to give them a try. When I started to study the flower closely I noticed that magical deep violet colour which was so rich that it was almost black. It looked so great that I really wanted to have some nice photo of it. It wasn’t so hard to find pleasing composition but as the leaves in background were a little bit disturbing I thought about conversion to painting again. This time “impasto” style worked best so here is the result. Click on photo for bigger image with more details.


~ Black velvet trumpets ~
1/2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/20, ISO 100

I think it works quite nicely but when I was in Photoshop I thought that maybe I could try also some other filters (sometimes when working with a photo I simply start to wonder what various filters/presets could do with it. This time I went directly to “invert” filter even though I really don’t know why, it was some kind of intuition and here is the result which really appeals to me. Click on photo for bigger image with more details.


~ Surfinia feather ~

Feather was the very first thing which came to my mind when I saw this image.

I tried also other filters but haven’t got anything interesting until I went to Snap art again and tried other presets. I used only “impasto” and “oil on canvas” in past because other presets usually results in something not so impressive but this time I really liked result of “stylize” filter which gave the photo a little bit cartoonish style. Click on photo for bigger image with more details.


~ Violet Gold ~

I like all these results and I wanted to share them with you. Here you can see how a subject which saw as unsuitable for good photo may turn up as direct opposite so if you have some subjects which you resisted to photograph so far, give them a chance. I’m pretty sure that you’ll be surprised with your results. Anyway, taking photos of subjects which we see as unsuitable for good photos is great exercise because we need to overcome our bias and think about the subject deeply to be able to work with it and expect good result.

If photos in this post will serve as inspiration for you I’ll be more than pleased. Let me know your results!

Enjoy your summer holidays and vacations.

Technical information: photograph in this post was taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens on a tripod, in natural conditions.





Two years of blogging

29 06 2011

Today it is exactly 2 years from my first post on this blog and I think that it is a good opportunity for sharing some statistics and small elaboration on those years with you.

First the statistics:

  • Posts
  • Visits
    • There was 11567 visits in those 2 years.
    • Number of visits has grown by 43% in the second year of my blogging.
    • Average number of visits in first year was 14 while 19 in second year.
    • The busiest day so far was April 11, 2011 with 70 visits.

While thinking about the posts and my progress in photography in those 2 years I think that I still take photos with the same intention – capturing details which we can see every day but which we don’t realize or which we simply overlook as common or not interesting.  I try to work with impressions. I want my photos to impress viewers for which purpose I work with colours, simple shapes and sometimes with processing which makes certain photo everything but common.

I heard that most of blogs won’t survive 13th month of life. It is true that previous year was demanding at me and I had a lot of other things than photography to focus on. Result was that  I haven’t had even thoughts for photography and I was glad if I was able to make a post per month, sometimes not even this. With this year approaching I got a new energy to my veins and I can say that I have been focusing on photography much more in past months than in any time in those past 2 years. Hopefully it does not have effect on quality of my late photos but I will leave this up to your decision.

When it comes to my source of inspiration, at first place it is nature itself. There is so many interesting subjects in so many forms that I’m really not afraid of running out of subjects and ideas for photos. At second place it is you, photographers with similar scope in photography. I am following photo blogs and photo sites such as flickr on daily basis which provides decent amount of excellent photos which inspires me in some ways. As time goes by some photographers have become silent and in such cases I always wonder what happened to them. We never know what awaits us.

When I was thinking about suitable photo for this post I came across following one which, as I think, sums up one side of my photography. It is a photo of Gerbera taken some months ago. I was interested by those bold colours. I don’t remember what was the source of the violet in the background I only know that it was some other flower.


~ I LOVE Colours ! ~
1/500 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

Looking at the visits, it really impresses me and I want to give a BIG “THANK YOU” to all of you who are visiting my site either accidentally, sporadically or continuously. You all help me in getting this blog further and you help me also with my photography either by giving constructive feedback or simply by your visits which creates a demand for another posts.

Thank you all and I am really looking forward writing similar post after another year.

Enjoy summer!

Technical information: photograph in this post was taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens with HOYA Close up +4 (dioptres) filter, in natural conditions.





Well thought out?

22 06 2011

As a response to my previous post my fellow photographer Tracy Milkay (her great photo blog here) wrote

“You can tell they [your photos] are so well thought out – from composition to finishing.”

This statement evoked following questions: “Can I?” “Are they?” “Really?” It brought me to thinking about whole process of photo creation more deeply and to wondering if the process is similar for other photographers, no matter how experienced.

So are my photos well thought out? Answer to this question isn’t so easy. The closest simple answer would be probably “to some extent”. I’ll try to describe the process of creating my photos and leave the answer to you. I’ll describe the process in 3 steps:

1) subject study – this is necessary and very important step before looking through camera viewfinder at the subject. Time needed for this study depends on time I can spend with the subject (minutes in case of time pressure or unknown environment on one side of axis, even weeks or months in case of flowers in our home or garden on the other side of axis) and frequency of using the same subject by me or other photographers while the latter variable is in direct proportion to the needed time. The more common the subject is for other photographers or even me the more time I will need for coming up with something original.

2) taking photo – this is usually quite straightforward process and it is basically consisting of looking for suitable composition and light and taking photo(s). If I had visualized the photo before taking camera in hands I start with this photo first and then continue as described in preceeding sentence. If I can’t come up with anything “decent” I play with other techniques such as panning and zooming. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t but I must say that I end up with decent to great photo much much more often than with nothing. Frankly, I don’t remember when I deleted all photos from a photo session for the last time.

3) photo processing – I like realistic photos, meaning that I don’t like to adjust them too much during processing phase. It means that I usually don’t want to change what came from the camera too much. I turn my photos into paintings, I use textures, you may say. Yes, I do but really seldom. I turn my photos into black & white and give them colour tones sometimes but this is in cases when I either want to emphasize the shapes and colour isn’t so important or when colour is distracting. The conversion to black and white is not always intended from the beginning. Sometimes I take some photo with intention to have it in colour but then when looking at it on monitor I don’t like it in colour or it looks just ordinary so I try colour adjustments such as conversion to black and white and toning. This is the case of photo called Daisy trio from previous post.

Well, enough of theory, let’s show it on example:

~ Violet explosion ~
1/2 sec., f/16, ISO 100

~ Entrance ~
2.5 sec., f/22, ISO 100

My wife got this Dendrobium orchid for her birthday in March. I see orchids as very challenging subjects for taking photos of them and moreover I don’t like this Dendrobium sort much. We had the flower in our bedroom for maybe two months and then my wife moved it into our dining room and placed it so that the accompanying palm leaf was proped to the window. When sun lit it from behind one afternoon I liked the fresh green colour of the leaf and how the intense violet colour of the flower stood out against it.

The study period here was more than 2 months! I saw the flower every day and I asked myself how would I photograph it in original way very often. When I took the photo that I visualized in my head earlier (the left one) I thought that it might be good to take a macro shot of the flower and I really liked the details in central part. When I saw it on a monitor then I knew that the first photo (the left one) is quite ordinary but presenting both together as a diptych could work nicely. So here it is. And by the way the left photo was created from 2 photos, one at f/2.8 for background out of focus, second at f/16 for the blossom entirely in plane of focus. These 2 images were then taken into Photoshop as different layers (f/16 as background layer) and then I masked the blossom from f/2.8 version with f/16 one. This is technique which I use quite often when I can’t get desired DOF with a subject.

This is nice example of a photo(s) that was thought out even though not completely visualized during study process.

That’s it. I would like to know if your process of taking and creating image is similar or different and if different then where it differes and how. I’m really looking forward to your response.

Have a nice end of the week!

Technical information: all photographs in this post were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens, in natural conditions.

P.S. I know why I was so reluctant with taking photo of this orchid. There was so much specks and dust threads on petals that merging those 2 exposures together and cloning out all the dust took me almost 2 hours!





Intentional camera movement a.k.a. panning

12 06 2011

“In photography, panning refers to the horizontal movement or rotation of a still or video camera, or the scanning of a subject horizontally on video or a display device.” – Wikipedia

Panning  or basically any camera movement during exposure is one of techniques to which comes almost every photographer who gained some experience and wants to try “something different”. It produces varying results, some excellent, worth of hanging on wall, some not as good. A set up producing usually very good results is vertical panning in wood, I wrote about it in my post Pan in wood. As a flower photographer I tried this technique also with flowers and got very nice result shared in post Creativity..unlocked!

Simple panning, meaning vertical or horizontal movement is the most simple way with which probably everyone starts. After trying this you can continue with rotation, zoom, combination of movement and zoom… whatever you want. Bad thing about this technique is that results are often hardly predictable. It happens to me that I do the movements which resulted in good photos in past but they suddenly do not work. Is it a subject or is it only me? In such cases I usually try other movements such as already mentioned rotation. I think that following photo is nice example.


1/6 sec. @ 100 mm, f/32, ISO 100

On this shot I captured part of our meadow which blooms heavily every year. Unfortunatelly, I don’t know the name of the yellow flower (it’s not Dandelion or Ranunculus) but I know that those pink/violet spots are cloverleaf blossoms. In case of this technique (rotation) I get one decent photo on maybe 10-20. Sometimes it’s really hard to get desired composition when you need to move your camera so quickly.

When rotation technique fails, try whatever else. This past weekend I was trying to take some photos of our blooming lobelia pot but I wasn’t able to find decent composition with so many small blossoms so I tried panning. After several tries I came up with a photo which appeals to me.

1/2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/32, ISO 100

If I remember correctly, the movement which lead to this was crazy wobbling with camera from left to right so it’s absolutely impossible to repeat that movement again. I must say that I really like those bright lines and colours. It reminds me refractions of sunlight on water surface.

If you want to try something new, something original, something that results in interesting photos or if you just like what you see here, grab your camera and give it a try. If you will be patient, you will definitely get something very interesting even after your first tries.

I wish you a lot of fresh energy into the starting week!

Technical information: all photographs in this post were taken with Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens, in natural conditions.





Tulip details and some news

3 05 2011

I hope that you’re not tired of seeing tulip photos here, yet, because it will be no difference today . When I was taking photos from previous post I focused also on small details of those beautiful tulips. Today I present two photos each with different intention and impact. First one was intended to be very soft with shallow depth of field (DOF). I took a photo with fully open aperture (f/2.8) which gave me the softness I wanted but unfortunately DOF wasn’t deep enough for capturing all the details in stamen so I took another photo with exactly the same composition but with little bit wider DOF (f/4). Then I stacked both images in Photoshop with the f/2.8 on top and I created a mask in which I carefully painted the stamen so it became visible from the layer below. After some final touches in Lightroom I got result which you can see here.

~ Fluffy ~
1/30 – 1/15 sec @ 100 mm, f/2.8 + f/4, ISO 100

Next photo was created at the same time only with slightly different composition but the main goal here was to have everything in focus. For achieving this I had to take 3 shots, each at f/20. I was pretty close to magnification 1:1 and it was impossible to have everything in focus in one shot. Then I did the same procedure of stacking and masking as in previous case and again after some final touches in Lightroom I got satisfying result.

~ Tulip Chaos ~
3 shots at  1.3 sec @ 100 mm, f/20, ISO 100

These photos show also different possibilities of capturing details in complex subjects. First photo shows hot it is possible to separate subject and bring viewer’s attention where you want. In the second photo I wanted to capture the complexity of the subject and the chaos created by nature. It wasn’t easy to find suitable composition and framing but I hope I succeeded. Viewer’s eyes slide across the photo not knowing where to stop and that’s what I like also.

Let me know if what I did works for you or does not and why. Your constructive criticizm always helps me to be better.

And now it is the right time for NEWS. I have three of them.

First, I sold first photos! It was rather coincidence. I did preparation for selling my photos in the beginning of this year and even before I displayed them in any shop/gallery I was contacted via Flickr by lady from Australia who was interested in prints of 2 of my photos and directly in dimensions 80x120cm (31.5″ x 47.6″). What a luck! The good part was that I had everything ready and so I could cooperate immediately, the bad part was that she was asking for making the prints using printing service with which she has good previous experience but I had none. After gaining more information about the service and short communication with them I decided to go ahead. Today my first client has the prints, “gorgeous” to use her own words, in her office and I know that I can relly on Brilliant Prints in future. I am so happy!

Second, my prints are now available in another internet gallery, it is company where I make my photos print. Bad news for all but Czechs is that gallery is primarilly in Czech language and even though it can be translated into English it is done automatically using google translation service and the results are not always granted. The link to gallery is here.

Third, I became a father for second time! My 2nd son was born on 1st May and I really wish it has no big impact on my time for photography but I think that it will remin only as a wish. My family is my priority nr. 1 anyway.

Enjoy May in full bloom!

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