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.


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.

Negative Space in Flower/Macro Photography *Updated*

14 06 2010

If you ever heard about Negative space you already know what I want to write about. If you never heart about it but you already have some experience with photography, I am pretty sure you know what Negative space is but you only don’t know it is called so.

Let’s begin with commonly used definition:

Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image”, says Wikipedia.

It is simple as this. The negative space is everything in the frame beside the main subject(s) which usually means that negative space is a background. You know how important the “right” composition is and that different compositions can significantly influence viewers perception of the photo. I will not write here how to compose a subject in an image, how to use a background to make the main subject pops up, how to mix various colours in the image aso.

I want to focus on something that I realized only recently and that is the use of negative space in flower and macro photography. In flower and macro photography you usually compose the photographed scene in 2 different ways:

  1. the main subject is wholly in the image,
  2. the main subject is only partially in the image.

Now I would like to present the role of negative space in both types of composition and how it influences viewers perception. Let’s look on the following photo:

~ 1/320 sec. @ 100 mm, f/4, ISO 100 ~

The flower on this photo is a Dwarf Tulip (Tulipa tarda), a tiny tulip variety that blooms in early spring in patches of 10+ bright white and yellow blossoms with a diameter around 2 centimetres. The flower blooms fully open only in direct sunlight and closes quickly in shadow thus I had to take the photo around noon and therefore the strong light in the centre of the flower. There were also other blossoms quite near to this one and other flowers resulting in a messy background so I opted to mount a close up filter to my macro lens for super shallow depth of field. Now the colours of the background were not pleasing at all so I yet converted the photo to BW and applied sepia toning and darkened the corners, leaving only the blossom and some nice diagonal blurred lines behind it. Note that this photo is not finished because it was intended only for use in this post; in finished photo the distracting petals entering the photo at the bottom were removed in post processing.

Now it is a great photo for illustrating what is negative space. It is everything around the main flower. The main subject is also called positive space. I could be happy with the photo if I removed those petals near the bottom – it was composed according to the rules of thirds and it looks good, in my opinion. After watching it for a while I realized that it doesn’t evoke the feelings I would like to be evoked. Even though I used macro lens with additional close up optics and even though the front lens of the macro lens was only couple of centimetres from the blossom, it still looks like a small flower and that’s exactly what negative space does in this case! Surrounding whole main subject it makes it look small in whole composition even though it would be printed on huge canvas. My eyes are dragged to the flower which is right but then they leave it and start wandering around the image searching for some other interesting subject and finally, finding nothing else, coming back to the flower. I, as a viewer, find it distracting.

So, what can I do with it? Crop it to eliminate the negative space!

If cropping I prefer either original 2:3 format or square format. I don’t like other aspect ratios much. So after a couple of tries of different crops here is one which I like. It is much better now, don’t you think? My eyes enter the photo in top left corner, follows the petals directly to the centre where they circle around the sharpest anther, sometimes leaving the central part, following the top petals right rim and coming back following its left rim and circling around the centre again. Hmm, I like it! After watching it for a while I got that feeling again. There is still too much background which is too dark and the flower still looks a bit small. There is still a bit more negative space than positive space and that’s what makes the difference.

Last try, crop it a bit more:

The ratio between negative and positive space is now near to 50% and it proves itself. My eyes go the same way as in previous case but now don’t have any reason nor intention to leave the flower  to wander above the rest of the image. The flower is all I see and watch and that is what I wanted. I wanted to show the flower to the viewer and there are no doubts that the flower is what this photo is about. Yes, there is that cropped left petal but it is not distracting in my opinion. I think that it creates a certain tension in the photo as it drags my attention and leads my eyes to the centre of the flower again. This is the result I am happy with and this is what helped me to understand the negative and positive space and how the amount of each and ratio between them can influence viewers perception of the photo and what is in it.

It does not mean that finding a balance between negative and positive spaces is the target. The target is to realize that there is something such as negative and positive space and to use it according to your vision. And I believe that even though I tried to explain it on example of flower and macro photography, it is fully applicable in every kind of photography.


After your comments here and on NSN forum where I post my photos I decided for a better crop on 3rd image:

Enjoy the early summer and I’ll be happy for your comments!

Technical information: the photo was taken with the Canon EOS 450D camera, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM macro lens and HOYA close up +4 filter under natural conditions with a help of tripod (the blossoms are only couple of cm above the ground so it was nice test for my tripod).