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!

Advertisements




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.





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.





Taking time

7 04 2012

You can say that I am taking my time with blogging and you are right. I still cannot get the right grip with photography and my thoughts are easily drawn to other things. Nevertheless I take a camera from time to time and take some photos, processing them is something else though. In last days my mind was turning around idea of posting something new and yesterday I had a discussion with a colleague of mine, in work and photogprahy, about our photography and this discussion was the final push which I needed to sit behind my computer and process some of the latest photos. When thinking about the photo for processing I was drawn to one which I had in my mind in last weeks, a photo of pink kalanchoe which I wanted to present in little bit grungy way. I used one of my very few textures and after some time I got a photo which I had in my mind for a long time.

~ Rough World ~
1.6 sec @ 100 mm, f/8, ISO 100

I know that it looks a little bit strange with further blossoms out of focus and then a background full in focus but I somewhat like this contrast and I am interested in your comments.

Sometimes, actually quite often, when I am done with a photo I try out different processings just for fun and sometimes I get a result I like. Mayhap influenced by the discussion with my colleague yesterday I tried to give the photo (the original one before applying texture) a high-key look and I really like the result.

It will never stop to surprise me how easily you can change a look and atmosphere of a photo. It may be a good exercise so you can try it, too.

Thank you for your persistence in visiting this blog and I wish you happy Easter.

Addendum: as some of you expressed your interest in what and how I hung on a wall in our living room, here is a photo of the set of photographs we finally decided for. All are prints on canvas, the biggest ones are 40x60cm, the smallest is 20x20cm, overall area covered by photos is 160x100cm and they are above our sofa. It was challenging to find a set of photographs fitting together without distracting viewers (mostly me, my wife and our kids) and we think we succeeded. I was pleased by several positive comments from our friends when visiting us but especially one asking who painted it for us.





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!





Daisies

19 06 2011

I love blooming meadows in this season especially those of Alpine type glowing with yellows, pinks, violets, reds and whites. Our meadows were once fields for growing crops or pastures for cattle. Almost noone is growing own crop or breeding own cattle nowadays. It’s not economically efficient. So the past fields and pastures turned into meadows in past 20 years. Unfortunatelly such a meadows are not home for wide variety of meadow flowers. The most common ones are dandelions and common daisies (Bellis Perennis) which are simply everywehere. Less spread are oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum Vulgare), blue and white campanulas, poppies and cornflowers.

Common daisies, in our country called sevenbeauties, are very often photographed and I wanted to try it this year also. It’s beautiful how they turn their heads towards the sun as sunflowers and how their petals are bright white the first day of bloom and turning to pink at tips every other day.


~ Sevenbeauty ~

1/1600 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

This photo is also first in my new series called simply “From meadows and fields” in which I would like to present various flowers blooming in our country on meadows and fields.

I see much more oxeye daisies everywhere this year comparing it to previous years and that’s good because they are beautiful flowers keeping their heads high in tall meadow grass. With not lawned meadows it’s quite tough to find pleasing composition with them though as they are often hidden deeply in grass so if you want to take photos of them you need to garden some unwanted stalls almost always. I really like oxeye daises and thus I had to photograph them this year also.


~ Daisy trio ~
1/1600 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

I wanted more blossoms in frame and I was happy to separate these three. The colour version isn’t much pleasing though so I used a toning which results in much more pleasing image. Hope you like it.

This is all for today. One of next posts will be about poppies.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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