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.


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.

Tulips in Black & White

27 04 2011

Tulips are amazing flowers. So graceful and delicate with their thick wax petals, tall stems and proudly standing heads. We have been buying cut flowers to our bedroom very often in last months and tulips were the most frequent ones. Once we bought beautiful white tulips which turned out to be the variety with much more petals then only those surrounding the blossom’s center. I decided to try both high-key and low-key kind of photos with them beside some macro shots of center details which I will present in some of next posts. Now I would like to present one high key photo and one low key. Here is the first one:

~ FHK #011 – White Tulip ~
1/3 sec. @ 100 mm, f/10, ISO 100

It was tricky to get all subjects in the photo with right tonality because the leaf on the left side was very dark. Finally, the luminosity masking technique produced the best result.

Following photo is more classical low key image than those from previous post. I leave the judgment up to you.

~ FLK #003 – Trinity ~
1/3 sec. @ 100 mm, f/16, ISO 100

I tried various presets of conversion to B&W but after all I manualy changed the tones and their lightness in Lightroom. It was also a bit tricky to get all the details as I wanted. I wanted high contrast but I didn’t want to loose all details in leaves. I must say that I’m pretty happy with the result.

Let me know if you like these photos or not and why. What works for you, what would you change or do differently? This all helps me to understand how you perceive my creations and how could I do it better next time.

Enjoy spring!

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 in Low Key

10 04 2011

I will start generally. Low key lighting which is used in photography or film industry is a technique using usually only 1 light source and working with a strong contrast. You will find monochromatic or almost monochromatic images in low key very often. Photos created with this technique evoke feelings of darkness, deep sadness and strong tension. If I say “noir” and “Sin City” I think you are at home.

Or I can say it even more simply. Low key photograph has all the information (or at least majority) in lower half of the histogram. In opposite high key photograph it is vice versa. See histogram below for one of photos in this post.

Since I took first photos in high key more than one year ago (look at this post about it) I always wanted to try a low key photo of some flower. I always imagined a dark flower with black or very dark background even though  it is posible to make a low key photo with almost any flower, or generally any subject, no matter if it is bright or dark. Still I wanted to try it with dark flower. I really liked the idea of “dark on dark”.

When I was in a flower shop to buy something to shoot with during unexpectadly free day couple weeks ago I saw beautiful very dark violet tulips with ragged petals (parrot tulips?).

After lunch when light in our dining room is optimal (we have a big window there so it’s my temporary studio) I started a session with these beautiful tulips. I took quite a lot of photos and was able to process only part of them. Very first one was the photo in this post and as you can see it wasn’t a low key photo at all. Still I took the session with intention of creating low key images. Quite soon I realized a problem with natural lighting. For high key image you need a strong ambient light (indirect light or shade is a must for flower photography) and just keep an eye on a histogram to not overexpose a single pixel. For a low key image ambient/indirect light isn’t enough. With dark flowers there is always danger that even the ambient light will create reflections on some parts of the flower. In this case I got ugly reflections on petals and I needed to additionally shade the flower. This resulted in very limited light then. Fortunatelly it was enough for some decent aperture times. Finally I was able to process 2 images below which would make for a nice diptych in my opinion.

~ FLK #1 – Tulip ~
1 sec. @ 100 mm, f/5.6, ISO 100
~ FLK #2 – Ragged ~
1/2 sec. @ 100 mm, f/6.3, ISO 100

As I wrote in the beggining, low key technique works with higher contrast. Here the contrast is more than twice higher in comparison with my other/”normal” photos.

I am so happy with these photos that I decide to start a new series with them. As I already have Flora in High Key series, the new one is called analogically, Flora in Low Key. It is true that I haven’t seen much floral photos in low key so far so I think it is quite original and I’m really looking forward reactions of viewers and yours as well, of course.

Enjoy spring flowers 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.

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).


21 04 2010

After the exceptionally long and harsh winter spring finally rushed into my homeland. Tulips are one of the first garden flowers which, together with crocuses and hyacinths, welcome spring every year and so I couldn’t resist photographing them. The weather truly stood its adjective “foolish” this april as it was either rainy or windy so far and we still have frost some mornings. Weather was finally beautiful last weekend so I took a camera out of the house after long time and took some flower shots which you can see below. I have spring linked with beautiful smell of flowers, fresh air with a scent of rain and with strong sun rays in my mind and that’s what I tried to caught in these pictures.

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

Not before the photos were processed had I realized that I actually never presented a single photo of a tulip and it is very probable that I never took a photo of a tulip which is really a surprise to me because it is a subject which is photographed very very often.

As you can see from these photos tulips are great subject also for abstract photography. They are available in wide range of colours and even one blossom may bear a rich palette of colours. The following photo is only a crop from the one above and by cutting the stem the subject is minimized only to curvy shapes and bright colours.

Probably the biggest disadvantage of these fragile, yet  noble, flowers is that they don’t last long when cut into vase so the best way to get pleasing photos of them is photographing them either outside or freshly cut.

1/200 sec @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

So enjoy the beauty of spring!

Technical information: all photos were taken using Canon EOS 450D camera and Canon EF 100mm USM macro lens under natural conditions, outside and hand-held.