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!





Season of Irises

3 06 2012

A season of irises is here again as every year. For maybe 3 previous years I tried to photograph irises and never ended up with publishing-worthy images. This year I try again and I already have some hopefully decent photos which I dare to publish in this post.

Irises are interesting, very varying flowers spread almost worldwide. From short to tall, from smaller to bigger, from wild to cultivated, irises are one of the most frequent flowers in our gardens together with tulips and roses. Their colours vary from pure white to very dark, almost black varieties and multicoloured cultivars are common. Iris blossoms usually last several days but we can find differences also here as some are so fragile that even harsh sun, wind or rain harms them while other are still beautiful even after strong rain.

We had 3 varieties in previous years – fragile white/yellow, strong yellow/orange and quite fragile violet/yellow cultivar named “Mary Todd”. It seems that the strong variety haven’t survived last harsh winter and “Mary Todd” had only couple blossoms destroyed by rain very soon. The fragile white/yellow variety has been in great condition last weeks, having more than dozen blossoms so I waited for any opportunity to take photos of them. Some opportunities were ruined by bad weather but I managed to take couple photos during previous week and also during past weekend.

~ Iris Sprout ~
1/50 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100

This variety has pronounced veining in lower petals and whole blossom plays with white and yellow hues. Blossoms are rather small and very fragile with thin petals which often become translucent after couple days or rain. Their days of this year are almost gone.

When looking for suitable composition I decided to take some details of these beautiful flowers as they are often depicted with whole blossoms in a frame. I named the photo above “Iris Sprout” because the “beard” looks like a new small plant to me. Actually, as I am looking at it now, it reminds me willow catkins.

I am aware of the photo being a bit dull but no matter how hard I tried I wasn’t able to process it so that the contrast would be still good, the brightest parts white and veining not too dark.

~ Irisfall ~
1/30 (1/8) sec @ 100 mm, f/4 (f/8), ISO 100

I like the “misty” look of this photo and therefore the name “Irisfall” as a version to waterfall. With water being falling in a waterfall it would be more correct to name this “Beardfall” but I like “Irisfall” more. Always when I watch this photo, it looks to me like the beard is rolling through a valley and falls down the steep bank, creating a mist which is raising above the fall and illuminating whole valley with gold. But maybe it’s only me, dwelling too much in worlds of fantasy.

To achieve a bit deeper DOF in area of beard I combined 2 images – shallow f/4 photo as a basis and f/8 photo from which I carefully transferred part of the beard.

I’m not sure if I will get to taking another photos of this iris yet this year but if not, then in next year, I guess. Fortunately, we bought another iris variety this year and it only starts blooming these days. It has unique apricot-orange colour, strong smell of grapefruits and it belongs to the strong varieties blossoming nicely even after hard rain. The flower is packed with buds so I guess that I’ll have enough fun with it. Actually, I hoped that a blossom will open during past weekend but it didn’t until Sunday evening and that was too late.

Have a nice week and … thanks Tracy for inspiration!

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, outdoors.





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.





Succulent in infrared

13 01 2012

We renovated and partly rebuilt our living in autumn 2010 but our living room was not completed yet last summer. We wanted to hang some 2 vertical photos above the sofa and we were thinking about something elegant, perhaps in black and white. Moreover, we wanted the phtos to have some link, perhaps presenting the same subject. Of course that I wanted to use my photos but as no 2 were suitable for this I had to make some new ones.

I was drawn to succulents in our garden (Sempervivum tectorum to be exact) by that time, observing simple, yet elegant, lines of their leaves. One day I finally decided to take some photos of them and started processing them immediately. Have you ever realized how much dirt is on the flower having its leaves only couple centimetres above the ground? I had to clone out around 100 specks on each photo! When photos where “clean” enough I tried different presets in Lightroom and really liked what infrared preset did with photos. A light touch of sepia and it was ready.


0.6 sec. @ 100 mm, f/22, ISO 100


1/4 sec. @ 100 mm, f/16 ISO 100

Even though I was really happy with the result after some time of watching the photos we decided to not hang them because if you observe it for a while you will notice tiny thorns on edges of leaves and it doesn’t evoke pleasant feelings. So after all we chose different solution but I still like these photos and therefore I want to share them here with you.

If you wonder what was the final solution, it couldn’t have been more different. We selected 8 photos from my collection, four in white tones, other four quite colourful and we put them together so that it makes a somewhat compact unit. This is nice example of how initial idea can change radically and still be acceptable.

Let me know if you like these photos with inverted-like feel and enjoy the winter until that time.

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





Poppy impressions

9 07 2011

A Common Poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is grown in our country on vast fields. It is on different fields every year so you can’t be ever sure where it will be next time but it is for sure that it WILL be on some fields in our village. I noticed two large fields with blooming poppies when returning from shopping one day and so I prepared a camera and tripod and planned to take a drive to work next day.

I stopped by a field with red poppies and noticed that it is a field of rapeseed accompanied by red poppies and camomile. The rapeseed had already seeds and was more than 1 meter high. If you ever tried to walk through rapeseed field in this stage of maturity you know that it’s almost impossible. The plants are so interwoven and holding so tightly that you really need to be strong to get through it. fortunately I didn’t need to do this fight as there was something like an entrance to the field created by a tractor so the rapeseed was pushed aside on several meters and this was more than enough for me to take some photos of this field beautifully lid by soft morning light. In such a cases when I am in front of a field of flowers I feel indecisive for a moment. It’s hard for me to decide where to start and how to start. I decided for straight centre macro/close-up first. You can’t spoil anything with such a photo, right?


~ Eye of a poppy ~
Composite of 3 photos @ 100mm and at ISO 100: 1) 1/13 sec.,  f/8, 2) 1/4 sec., f/14 and 3)  1/100 sec , f/2.8
Click on the photo to see it in bigger resolution.

I wanted to have the petals blurred so I took a wide open shot (at f/2.8) but I also wanted to have all the stamens sharp. I had to combine 2 images for this, one at f/8 and one at f/14. Why I haven’t used only f/14? Because a slight wind was blowing that morning and the photo was a little bit blurry at f/14 so I used f/8 (sharp) for all stamens and f/14 only for those parts of f/8 shot where the stamens were not in focus fully. I was quite happy with the result but I wanted to make it more “creative” so I used (my favourite) Photoshop plugin Snap art by Alien Skin which simplified it nicely. You can see comparison image here. The upper half is original photo, lower half is with added “oil painting” effect. At first sight the difference is not big but I like the painted version a little bit more.

Another shot I wanted to have was a motion blur of poppy field so I tried and got one decent photo to work with. When I was playing with it during processing I came up with 2 versions but with totally different look and mood. I decided to post both of them and give them common title.


~ Childhood memories ~
1/8 sec. @ 100 mm, f/32, ISO 100
Click on the photo to see it in bigger resolution.

The first version recalls my memories from the days when I was a small child. I was grown up in a village and so my early visual memories consists of warm sun, ripe fruits, field of golden crop, and garden flowers. Beside visual memories we usually have also smell memories and I remember warm and pleasant smell of hay, coll and wet smell of nearby woods and smoky smell of potatoes baked in ash.  I didn’t mention poppies, wildflowers or rapeseed anywhere, still this photo reminds me childhood.

Beside these comforting and pleasant memories we all have also bad memories. Mine are of bad dogs and first days with my first bike. When it comes to dreams, I have one dream which I remember very well – I am riding my bike and suddenly the road ends with a cliff and off the cliff I go and I faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall eternally. Second version of this photo is about bad dreams.


~ Childhood memories – Nightmare ~
Click on the photo to see it in bigger resolution.

Both photos were created using Lightroom’s 3 presets and their combinations.

Last photo was taken on my way home from work. Close to the field where previous photos come from there was a field of white poppy basking in the evening sun. I was looking for some colour contrast and I found 2 red poppies on a border of the field. I thought it could work well together.


~ Radar ~
1/800 sec. @ 100 mm, f/2.8, ISO 100
Click on the photo to see it in bigger resolution.

The background was uneven so I had to use heavy Gaussian blur in photoshop and paint the poppies back then. I really would like to know if this photo works for you or not.

I have more photos from this day but they are waiting to be processed, yet, and I’m not even sure if I will keep them all or discard some. I hope I’ll have something for next posts.

Enjoy your summer 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. For the first and last photo a tripod was used.

P.S. We had real summer today with 30° Celsius in the shadow, 50°+ on the sun and 27° inside house.





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.





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.