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.


Rose abstract

19 12 2011

It has been almost five months since my last post here and for almost the same time I haven’t held camera in my hands. This break from photography was unintentional and actually it was my longest break from photography in several years. What caused it, you ask? Well, even I am not absolutely sure. In the first half of this year I took much more photos than in any year before and before the break I was taking photos every day for more than a week. Then a need for taking photos left me suddenly.

My other great hobby are books and during winter time I tend to read really a lot. Almost all my free time is spend with a book in my hand. Before summer I usually feel so full of stories that I can’t absorb more for some time. I feel like fully satiated. The pace slows done or sometimes stops completely. I think the same may have happened with my photography. Have you ever experienced something similar?

So I divided all my time between my work, my family and my other hobbies. It is true that both my work and my family needed, and still need, much more time than in past so there isn’t much time for the other hobbies either.

Anyway, after these months of not creating any new photos my camera and potential subjects start calling my creativity again. Three weeks ago I took a camera with macro lens to my hands again. I was wondering if I am able to see things in the same way as before but I think that it’s like riding a bike or rather driving a car after some time – start may be slow but a memory and instincts come back quickly. And here is the photo:

~ Turbine ~

It is a shot of not-yet-fully-open rose bud and final photo is a combination of 3 exposures at ISO 100:

  • 0.3 sec @ f/2.8
  • 1.3 sec @ f/5.6
  • 2.5 sec @ f/8

I used photos with higher f-stops for sharper petal edges and nice soft gradients from f/2.8 for the rest of the image. Colours are strong but I like it as it turned out. There is only small adjustment to saturation which is not to saturation directly but to vibrance in Adobe Lightroom instead. Vibrance enhances saturation of colours which are in minority on the photo.

I really hope that I will come back to photography (and this blog) more frequently now, presenting new and also old photos. I have still some photos taken back in July which I haven’t processed before the break started.

Finally, I would like to thank all of you who have been visiting this blog in those months, hoping to see some new posts. It is really good to know that there are people who cares for I do. Thank you!

Have a wonderful Christmass season and cherish your close ones.

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

Macro abstracts of Freesia? No way.

13 05 2011

At least that’s what I always thought. I told myself that freesia blossoms lack details to be good subject for macro photos and they are too small to stand as models for abstract shots, I thought. When my wife got a bouquet of freesias a week ago I wasn’t realy interested until I saw them in beautiful warm evening light shining thru them. I grabbed a camera and looked for some compositions with magnification ratio set very near to 1:1 and what I saw simply amazed me. I took one, two, three photos, all great to me and I suddenly realized that I couldn’t have been more wrong thinking that freesias can’t be good subject for macro or abstract photography! I set up my tripod and my first indoors evening shooting session started.

Here is the first photo from it. Please, click on photos below to see them in bigger resolution. It is much better.

1/6 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

I really like how those stamens(?) look like a star symbol or a symbol from china alphabet.

Do you know that feeling when you take a photo, check it on camera’s LCD and you really like it already? You “KNOW” that this is something very good? That’s what I felt when I saw all the photos from this post on camera’s LCD. I really, really like them and I wonder what will be your reactions.

Ok, let’s take a look at another photo.

~ Floating Camel ~
1/8 sec. @ 100mm, f/4,  ISO 100

Can you see the camel? 🙂 This photo works well also upside down and I think that it would make great diptych with previous one.

I was simply mesmerized by those colours beautifully blending to each other. Freesias has many blossoms on one stem and even those can vary in colour. Every blossom is unique and it gives endless possibilities to a photographer. The bouquet contained also simply yellow and white blossoms but these weren’t so interesting for me. I rather worked with those having multiple colours like the next one.

1/15 sec. @ 100mm, f/4, ISO 100

This is a crop from original photo created by cropping it from sides. I thought that in this case extension rings would be handy.

So, that’s it for today. I am already looking forward having another photo session with freesias, hopefully it will be soon.

Enjoy weekend and let me know your opinions on these photos.

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.

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.


27 03 2011

Do you know that feeling when you think that you came up with a great idea just to find out that someone else not only had it earlier but also did something with it, used it to get some great results? I was thinking about my photography lately. I was thinking what could I try to create something really original. I was thinking about motion blur technique, perhaps about small series of photos from nature created by using this technique because I haven’t seen it much in use lately, if not counting some experimental work. Then I was visiting blogs of the photographers I am following and, after some time, also of those who I’m not following regularly such as Jim Goldstein and there I saw it. Whole series of fantastic photos created by motion blur (and not only) technique called Color fields!

I was also thinking about my flower photography and, again, what could I do to achieve a unique results. I was thinking about the flower photography in general. You know, flower photographers are sometimes offended that they try to create perfect photos, looking only for perfect flowers without spotted or ragged petals, in the most fresh state, just open at best. So I thought, what if I’ll try to make great photos also with flowers which are not perfect? Those faded or wet or ragged or however crippled. I saw creations from photographers trying this but what I saw was usually morbid rather than nice. And then I visited, again after some time, blog by Mike Moats where I noticed his “Finding character in…” posts such as this one about Gerbera daisy or this about Black Eyed Susan.  Mike has created a whole book about it! Got it?

Ok, it doesn’t mean that I can’t use these amazing shots by amazing photographers as inspiration but it mainly means that I need to think a bit harder. Maybe I’ll come up with something unique one day. Or maybe I’m just too young and naive.

Last drop. Two weeks ago my friend visited me and when he was looking through my printed “portfolio” (quite emphasized word for it) he stopped with one monochrome photo in his hand saying “Wow, this is great! It looks exactly like those photos from IKEA!”

~Tulip Dreams ~
1/2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/4, ISO 100

If you also have such a “down” moments in these days, hopefully this fresh spring photo can cheer you up a bit.

Enjoy spring!

Technical note: 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.

Practicing while waiting for spring

16 03 2011

This ending winter has been really strange. We had exceptional load of snow in December, then all the snow was gone and we had some exceptional temperatures (exceptionally low) in January. February was quite normal with one exception, there was no snow and whole winter was thus quite dry. Normally the snow melts down by the end of February and rainy chilly days come followed by warmer and more sunny days of spring. This year it seemed that spring will not come at all.

When spring pot flowers arrived to shops we bought some hyacinths soon and so we were “calling for spring” with them blooming on our dining table. I took the following photos 2 weeks ago and this week we finally had spring weather with sun on clear sky and really pleasant temperatures. I even heard about new plus records 2 days ago 🙂

I like to think that I called the spring even though I know how naive this thought is. Anyway, I found the hyacinth flower a great subject which left me with more than few satisfying images. I decided to practice my post processing skills resulting in different processing for each image. The following one was simple straight shot without any specific processing, only the usual adjustments for exposition, vibrance, saturation, contrast aso.

~ Peeping Pink ~
1/15 sec. @ 100mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

I saw this photo on the LCD screen of my camera when I pointed itto the flower, chose a composition and locked the mirror. I think that the shutter is fully open in this case and image on screen looks even brighter than when it is taken. So I at least tried to close to what I saw and I think that I got very close.

Another photo is a close examination of hyacinth blossoms and their beautiful curves.

~ Calling Spring ~
1/20 sec. @ 100mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

I liked the result after usual adjustments in Lightroom but the green background was a little bit too prominent and the green/brown stem on the right side was really distracting so I gave a try to a texture overlay. I used Pareeerica’s Crimson Grunge texture (thanks!) twice as overlay which blended all subjects on photo nicely together.

Next, and last for today, photo was the most complicated.

~ (Blooming) Towards Spring ~
1/30 sec. @ 100 sec., f/2.8, ISO 100

I liked the bokeh and I knew that I want to have the “main” blossom more in focus than what’s achievable with f/2.8. Therefore I took 2 photos with the same f-number but focused on different parts of blossom. During post processing I  used the one with more blurred background and I painted the in-focus petals from second photo (using Photoshop, each photo in 1 layer). Then the usual adjustments (brightness, clarity, saturation aso.) followed but the result wasn’t still satisfying as I wanted the blossom to pop out against the background. I took the photo to Photoshop again and applied Orton technique which gave it softer look and little bit more saturated colours. Then was the right time to make the blossom pop so I masked only the blossom and used High pass sharpenning method. Finally, this is what I was striving for.

I hope you like them. I have some 2 or 3 more images from the same photo session and I plan to give a different post processing to each also.

Enjoy the spring!

Technical notice: 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.

One scene, many possibilities

8 03 2010

During my one year experience of photographing flowers I have found out that it is quite easy to take more photos of one scene with different atmosphere, mood and overall feel. This is truth at least for studio shooting. Sometimes it is possible even with a single subject as on following photos.

~ Flamenco Gerbera ~
0.6 sec. @ 100mm, f/20, ISO 100

1.3 sec. @ 100 mm, f/20, ISO 100

Even from a quick glance you can see that the overall feel of each photo is radically different and you can also see that it is the same photo. Well, not exactly – in the first photo I used black background while in the second one I opted for white background. But beside this it is the same photo. The lighting was the same in both cases – the natural sunshine of a medium intensity sometimes after midday. I was afraid that the reds will be overexposed in those areas where the rays of light fell on the petals but I was happy  when it proved to be a negative presumption after looking at histogram for red colour.

These  two photos had had completely different feel even before discolouration of the second one. Such an affect only by changing background. Now realize that you can change also lighting, composition, depth of field, focal length, shutter speed etc. There is so much possibilities.

When I have a shooting session with a flower I usually try to find all possibilities of what might end up as a good shot. Sometimes I visualize the photo and try to achieve it. Sometimes I achieve it sometimes I don’t. Anyway, I end up with photos which may be great even though I didn’t visualize them and haven’t thought about them before shooting.

What I’m trying to say by all this is that from my experience I recommend to not focus only on visualizing the photo, if you visualize it in advance at all, but try to use the scene as much as possible. Use your creativity and I am sure that you will end up with some very interesting and maybe even surprising images.

Enjoy the spring and do not forget to play with a scene!