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.

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Revisiting subject

20 01 2012

Originally I wanted to name this post Cool colours in warm winter because we have exceptionally warm winter this year but then the day after taking the photo which is accompanying this post we got snow and it lasts for more than a week now. So let’s leave the title and move to the real content of this post.

If you are taking photos for longer time you have probably came through the situation when you would like to take a photo of a subject which you photographed in past or it just happens that such a subject lands in front of your lens. Then you probably know that if you tend to investigate the subject very well, as I do, it is more complicated next time. The truth is that there are subjects which are so variable that you can take a photo of them every time and it will be always a little bit different. This is valid for subjects with complicated structures and as I am a flower photographer a nice example of such a subject for me are roses as every single rose has differently folded petals and they exist in uncountable amount of colour varieties. Then there are subjects which look like the same but you can add difference by changing background and angle of view. Such a subject is for example cyclamen. And then there are subjects which are more complicated and it takes time to take a photo in a different, previously not taken way. I found this challenge with hyacinth this year.

Hyacinths exists in five colour variants (white, yellow, pink, burgundy red and blueish violet), as far as I know. Beside colour the flower as such looks always the same. A cluster of trumpet-shaped blossoms placed one next to each other. Two years ago I examined a white hyacinth from bigger distance and took a photo of more flowers in this cluster resulting in this photo. Last year I examined pink variety more closely, resulting in this series of photos. This year I finally got a blue/violet variety which I always wanted to have. BUT, when I started to examine it with a camera on a tripod I was surprised how difficult it was to find something appealing this time. I found several compositions but they were mostly copies of the photos which I took last year. After some 15-20 minutes and couple of not-fully-satisfying captures I found one which I really liked.


~ Cool Hyacinth ~
0.3 @ 100 mm, f/2.8 ISO 100

The flower was placed in contra light so the blossoms in direct light turned slightly to blue whereas blossoms in a shade turned out in violet and the colour combination was really interesting; the shade of blue reminds me colour of icebergs. I decided to go with fully open aperture to get as much smooth colours as possible and I think that it turned out really well. It reminds me a pastel drawing. As usually I took this photo also with higher f-stops and later I layered together the one taken at f/2.8 with one taken at f/10 and I used the latter one to paint pistils with more details into the softer one (layered and painted in Photoshop).

So after all I ended up with a photo which does not look like any photo of a hyacinth I took so far and that’s exactly what was aiming for.

Even though revisiting the same subject in photography may seem as tedious or boring, I find it challenging and I think that it is great for training photography eye and creativity. Try it, it’s fun!

Technical information: the photo 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.