Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

Water Life

I’ve had a few pictures floating around that I’ve been working on the flow of, and I think I’ve gotten all the ripples out. Whew, ok, d’you think I killed the water metaphor enough yet? 😉 I took the water lily picture at the Botanical Gardens, always a good source of flower photography, which although not the most original, is not overdone without cause (flowers are pretty!!! yay). The mallard came upon me as I wandered around Lullwater Park at Emory University, probably expecting bread crumbs or something. I had no such gifts to offer, which probably explains the indignant look he is giving me. Oh, and, both are single-shot HDRs. Admittedly, I exaggerate the HDR processing on single-shot HDRs, or else I don’t feel like I’m getting enough out of the picture. Too much? Either way, thanks Photomatix 4!

A water lily blooms in on of the ponds in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

A Mallard glares at me after I don't give it anything to eat. He left shortly after.

Gardens at the Getty

Reaching back to my visit at the Getty at the end of July, this is a view of the main structures from across the gardens. Ghostbusters had to be called in to deal with the nasties running across the path to the bottom left, but in all honesty, it’s actually pretty fun to have to deal with that on this small scale, but then again only if you know you have the material to handle it. Fortunately, I did, and they went away no problem. Thanks to a CPL, the sky was able to adopt a “more interesting than solid blue” quality. LA is cloudless 99% of the time which is great for a lot of things but annoying when it comes to taking pictures that include skies. Regardless, the Getty Center has enough natural beauty in its gardens to make up for it.

The Gardens at the Getty Center are gorgeous. Actually, the whole place is. There are about 5 places around the outside of the garden area like the one where this was taken from where there are deliberate gaps in the trees to your side so you can see the buildings up the hill framed by the trees. Convenient. Beverly Hills CA

HDR for the sake of HDR

I have been bored, and that leads to long photo walks. Photo walks inevitably lead to HDR, and I found myself at poorhouse cove with a rather tame sunset (once again, no clouds…. I am still waiting for a good night!) and a profusion of flowers. It was low tide, which further provoked me to use depth of field to my advantage and cause the sunset to be merely background color, while focusing on the flowers in the front. Not my favorite work ever, and yes, it goes against my rule of “not making HDRs when the original, straight photo isn’t great…” but hey, I am having too much fun with HDR to not do some every day! I still have yet to photograph the little fishing town of South Bristol, which is right down the road from our house here. The village contains a swinging drawbridge called the “gut”  but I am waiting for a particularly good night as it is truly a picturesque town that needs a great sunset to really do it justice… with the right light, the images I take there could well be some of my favorites ever. Maybe I will get lucky in the coming days 🙂 for now, some more cliché.

Some flowers and out of focus sunset....

...followed by some flowers, and some out of focus sunset.

Purple, Botanical Gardens, and Tannic Acid

Botanical gardens are really awesome places. In Atlanta, it’s great to be surrounded by nature and wonderful flowers while seeing the entire cityline and skyscrapers in the background. In maine, it is purely nature surrounded by nature, with clean air, the ocean, and more nature. And you know I’m a sucker for flowers 🙂 I had the macro on most of the time, and I will get around to posting those up on MobileMe. For now I will post two hand-held HDRs that I took with the 16-35, as there was no time for a tripod between my parents wandering ahead and Eleni making fun of me for my weakness for flowers… but hey, they are pretty and I don’t care how cliché! I spent my entire school career doing art photography; a little cliché can’t hurt now and then. But it won’t hold a candle to what Giacomo and Andrew are sure to post in the aftermath of their Yosemite adventure, and I honestly hope I can find better subject matter (for HDRs anyway; the macros today came out great) in the coming days. For now, some purple and some tannic acid.

One of these things is not like the other....

The decaying plant matter releases tannic acid, and the tannins make the water brownish red. It's also what's in tea.. :O

Sunset on the Dock

I went down to the dock at sunset tonight and braved the gnats to shoot a ton as the light changed rapidly. I got a lot, and have processed most of it, but I will add them to my “to sprinkle in later entries” pile. There was absolutely no wind, so the water was completely still allowing for great reflections. I attempted to do an HDR panorama but omigod that is going to be so much work that I don’t feel like doing unless the scene is 100% worth it and, in this case, it just wasn’t… the sun made great colors, but the sky could have used more clouds. I will eventually find something that is worth attempting this on but it will entail probably a weeks worth of time in Photomatix and Photoshop that I just don’t want to do right now. I have yet to do some star trail work, but that is in the works… I can’t guarantee if that will be HDR or not, but either way it will show up here or on my photo page. I will take some time in the near future to upload some of what I shot this morning to my “straight photography” blog; I went down the road to this garden to get some absolutely awesome macros of flowers covered with droplets of water after the rain this morning. I’ll break the “HDR only” rule and put one in this post… I have like 8 shots from tonight that I want to put up but I will limit myself to my favorite one!

Kayks, docks, oceans, and great sunsets... that's Maine! (Well, that's a lot of places that are not Atlanta anyway...)

No, this is not HDR... but isn't it awesome how the surroundings are reflected in the individual droplets of water? This is a 100% crop of the full res version; click for the whole thing!

My First Foray into Macro HDR

I decided to try the inevitable, combining my two current loves: my new 100mm f/2.8L macro, and, of course HDR photography. Macro HDR is harder simply because your field of view is so much narrower than a wide angle (…duh) that you end up having much fewer subjects with high contrast, as macro shots tend to be evenly lit and do not include the sky. Because of this, I decided to shoot at midday, in an area where the sun directly hit the flower but the background was in complete shade.

An HDR of a flower on my porch, done with the 100mm Macro.

That came out ok. Not the “oh wow!” that HDRs usually give me, but I do like how much punch it gives the flower. I will try more of this “straight” macro HDR stuff later. I say “straight” because of what I did tonight. I was bored, and house-locked due to the awful humidity/storms/grayness/grossness that was located outside. I wanted to make it over to the Jimmy Carter Center to shoot their rose garden and get some overall HDRs of the place, but I’m saving that for a day with good clouds… hopefully soon. Today was not that day. So, I decided to make a still life that would have the ultra high contrast I’d need for HDR, while being minute enough and having enough detail to be done with the macro. I decided that since I was bored, I would combine this with another technique I’d been considering: taking a series of macro shots from a tripod of the same scene, focusing on a different part of the image in each shot, and then editing together all of the shots in Photoshop in a way that would create an impossible depth of field. So, I shot four 3-shot brackets of the same scene, focusing on a different aspect of the scene in each bracketed set. This was the result, after (very quickly because I am tired and want to eat some ice cream) compositing them together in Photoshop:

A macro-HDR composite; 4 different HDRs with different focal planes all fused into one image.

For this, I shot an HDR focusing on the 9 in the LCD, one focusing on the upper right screw on the clock, one focusing on the America on the gold dollar, and one focusing on the teeny brass elephant. The 3 HDRs were processed with similar settings in Photomatix (not identical, I did change some things as the images varied a bit in exposures and obviously what I wanted to be in focus) and then pasted over each other one at a time and erased away with a really soft eraser.

Right off the bat, I can list some mistakes I made, almost entirely due to the fact that I had simply never done this before/wasn’t thinking ahead:

  • Shooting at f/3.5. I initially thought, oh, I am editing these together so it won’t matter. WRONG! The extreme bokeh, while nice in a single shot, impedes details when edited together. See for example, the way the coin’s “halo” intrudes in on the elephant, the way the out of focus light from the cup intrudes on both the coin and the elephant… Shooting at f/8 or even f/11 would dramatically reduce this effect and make the editing process easier.
  • Simply not shooting enough different planes of focus. I would love to be able to get more of the overall image “in focus,” in other words I wish I had shot one with the orange spot on the cup in focus, one with the lamp in focus, and one with the back of the wall in focus. The room has a great wood panelling pattern that would work well to fill all that white space. The downside of this is of course more time composing, and much more time editing them together.
  • Not looking at the clock. The time changed from 9:01 to 9:02 during the bracketing… enough said! My next attempt at this will probably be something similar but exclude the darn clock. It takes so much time between focusing on new areas and waiting for your bracketing to finish (the longer exposures at macro focal length at f/11 are going to be 10-20 seconds; I was already hitting the 1 second mark at f/3.5) that the time is bound to change.

Something else that I found interesting came up immediately, and that is the issue of the Hybrid IS that I have been praising so highly. Don’t get me wrong, it is pure awesomeness when you are handholding shots. Absolutely incredible, allowing tack sharp, 1/30sec macro shots that you just couldn’t do otherwise. But, when I had the 5D on the tripod and Live View enabled so I could accurately compose and focus my shots, I noticed something: I was being perfectly still, and yet the image was “swimming” on the viewfinder. I could hear the IS continually going, something I had noticed and liked when handholding movies, as it helps reduce the shaking of your hands. On a tripod, it seems to be too enthusiastic and correct for motion that just isn’t there. It will be good for me to keep this in mind in the future; it probably wouldnt show up at all with ultra-fast shots but when your exposure times are around the .5-1sec range, it results in very blurry images, something this lens should NEVER do. Turning it off solved my problems.

So, this was an interesting experience. I think I will try more of each side of this separately, doing macro HDRs of flowers and other things I find, and attempting to do varying planes of focus with just straight shots. If I’m feeling ambitious again I will attempt to combine them, and this time I will make sure to shoot more than I think I need, and I will do the photoshop work on my PC with the Wacom tablet instead of on my laptop, half asleep on the couch with my trackpad, bemoaning only having 4gb of ram. Anyway, just wanted to show you what I’d been experimenting with. I feel like, when implemented correctly, it will result in some awesome, totally weird images.

New Blood on the Hill

One day while wandering around Rome I found myself on top of the Palatine Hill. The weather was rainy, the air was hazy, and I thought I’d go home with no good pictures. While resting my feet at a bench, my eyeline wandered and rested on this burst

of color hidden in the undergrowth. The flower was behind some other grass and I was surprised at the way the lens seemed to bend the light around the obstacles, and leaving what looked like shadows over the picture. I liked the effect.

Life and death in the undergrowth

Sunset in Kennesaw

My new macro has not left the 5D since I got it, which has prevented me from taking new HDRs… but this one, from the wedding earlier this summer out in Kennesaw, was already processed and is one of my favorite shots so I decided it was time to put it up. Something about the light here really worked for HDR, and I love the way the sun peeks over the house and through the trees, and is reflected in the windows. I have been shooting a bunch of macro stuff, and am readying a huge post to put up on the new area of this site that I’ve created but I am having HTTP Errors when uploading pictures that are currently preventing me from completing the post… hopefully an upgrade from PHP4 to PHP5 tomorrow will fix the issue. I’m too tired to deal with it right now! I am experimenting with HDR macros, but for now, here’s the shot from Kennesaw.

HDR at work in Kennesaw, GA

When In Rome

Shoot HDRs!!! After spending most of the day wandering around the old city and doing interesting (but admittedly touristy) stuff, I found my way up the Palatine Hill and into the wonderful Farnese Gardens. It had been cloudy all day, and rained intermittently (the worst of it was while I was eating lunch inside – I didn’t even realize how lucky I got). The rain was annoying but provided phenomenally excellent lighting conditions for some on-the-go portraits of my friends here (I had only brought my 85mm lens with me so I was pretty limited in what I could shoot). Anyways, at the gardens I found some lovely flowers after the rain, pulled out my handy T-pod, and shot some brackets. Here’s my favorite.

Red flowers after the rain in the Farnese Gardens in Rome


While I was in between housing situations a few weeks ago I was crashing on the couch at my friends place with no plans or pressing matters for an entire week. And no wheels. So I was grounded to the immediate north-of-campus area for a few days and let me say that much Taco Bell and Subway was had. A couple days in though, I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood to see if I found anything HDR-worthy. That’s when the purple hit.

Get the Purple In On It: Los Angeles CA

The Jewel In The Lotus

This beautiful lily bloomed in the pond in my parent’s backyard. I was eating lunch at home the other day and my mother told me she thought I might want some pictures of it. They had planted this lily only a few days beforehand, and I think this flo

wer makes the whole pond worth it.