Some days are light and airy, others are cold and grey. The quality of natural light greatly effects the photographs that you end up with, but sometimes, there are ways of fixing this. I don’t want grey, drab wintery typed photographs of beautiful Spring flowers, and so Photoshop becomes my friend.
There is a time and a place for perfectly in focus flowers. Identification pamphlets for one thing. Maybe even nature brochures – though I think the second may be a point of preference. Fine art photography is not, in my opinion, one of these times or places. Sure, I could spent an hour setting up my tripod and finding the perfect ratio between shutter speed and a tiny aperture to get every piece of the blossom perfectly sharp, but why bother? Tulips are the very essence of the brevity of Springtime – you watch and wait with baited breath for them to open and in a number of days, they drop their petals and are gone. The intoxication of the world waking up again after it’s Winter slumber is so intense that our very memory it becomes a blur.
This is my blur…
My bulb show adventures continue. One of the things that I have discovered so far about my new macro lens is that the photographs do not seem to be as saturated as the ones that I have photographed with my kit lens – maybe it’s my imagination, maybe my subjects.
Certainly, the bulb show this year is not as saturated as it has been in the past. The local college has themed it this year after Monet’s famous paintings and gardens, as such it is awash of pastels. With a wide open aperture, I was able to create a blurry texture very similar to a painting (fitting for Monet, no?!?) but if anything, it was far, far too smooth. Some experimentation with texture and color later, and I am very happy with the results.
As with all knew tools, my new macro lens has been an interesting learning experience. For one thing, I mostly still used my kit lens that came with my Canon so getting used to a fixed lens has been a bit of a challenge. Not having to get so close to that honeybee is a great perk (though those girls are my friends, so I don’t mind all that much), but it turns out that having a fixed 100 mm lens is not as much fun when you’re in a crowded greenhouse with all sorts of assorted people waiting impatiently to make the same comments at each blossom. They are not in the slightest bit respectful of your desire to get just one farther step back to get more of the shot in frame, for one thing.
Still, shots like this make everything worth it.
There is something wonderful about March in New England. We may not have the cherry blossoms of more balmy states, but there is always something so amazing about the first week of 40 degree weather. You have to live in some place where it gets as cold as this to appreciate how warm 45 degrees in the Sun can feel. Plus, now as often as now we are eating dinner before dark. All is well, the Earth keeps turning and even Winters as rough as this one will pass.
I wish that I could pretend that I am all hugs and puppies, but I’m not. Like many artists, I am greatly controlled by my ever changing moods. Bright Springtime colors are too much for me today, for all my adventures at the Spring bulb show yesterday. I needed to create something deeper and moodier – better suited for my frame of mind.
Found this frog in a large puddle in the middle of an old dirt road on a farm last September. Not sure where the real water that he came from was – it certainly was nowhere in site of our location – but he seemed content to watch us from the muddy depths. And even more content that I had to get muddy myself to photograph him.
Last May I was lucky enough to get to photograph the Northampton Pride Parade. The day was beautiful – warm enough but not hot, bright overcast and then sunny in fits and spurts – perfect to show off the brightly colored outfits of the varying marchers. I was very pleased with my shots since street photography is definitely not my specialty. This one in particular stood out, it is of a group of stilts walkers from a local circus school.
The shot is lovely and I especially love the colors and shadows, but found the background of the crowd distracting. After playing around the image in Photoshop for some time, I decided to use the select tool to isolate the stilts walkers on the left and the girl with the green boa while removing the rest of the background noise. After pumping up the blacks in the image to increase the contrast in the shadows, I came up with this image:
I’ve been experimenting a lot of with textures and color in Photoshop lately. There are many times when a shot is almost perfect from the moment that I take it (minus some minor edits for whiter whites or blacker blacks), but there are also many times – especially with things like nature that are never completely controllable – where an image is nearly what I want it to be. The form is there – the shape appealing, the petals perfect, whathaveyou – but the background color is unremarkable or too muddied. I remain a perfectionist at heart – what many people would consider to be a very solid if not amazing image can be only so-so to be if one single little thing stands out as “not right.”
This image was a good example – I really liked the placement of the butterfly and flower in the shot, but with the shallow depth of focus needed to keep up with the light quality of the day, my background is distressingly out of focus. Beautiful and bokeh is one thing, nothingness is another. Add in some texture to accent the colors and it becomes remarkably more appealing.