Friday, April 13, 2012


One of my photography instructors kept reminding the class to "work the shot."  What he meant was that we should not be satisfied with the initial shot of a subject.  We should be looking for different angles, different exposures, different apertures, etc.  In thinking about my most recent trip to the Mitchell Domes, I thought I would look at my efforts to work the shot with respect to a couple of the flowers that I shot.

Here is the first photo I took of this tropical flower (whatever it's called).

There are a number of problems with this shot.  First, it is taken at a very narrow aperture of f/40, leaving a great deal of the background clutter in focus.  Perhaps more importantly, there is no definition in the red petal--it is essentially a solid red.  I decided I would underexpose the next shot by 1-1/3 f-stops to try to get some more variation in the red petal.

Better.  Here is a third shot underexposed by 2 full f-stops.

Now there is good texture in the red petal, but at a cost of a little muddiness in the hue.  I did two other things to this shot.  I darkened the background some to reduce the clutter, and I cropped the shot to cut off the extreme left of the red petal.  For some reason, I felt this created a better composition.  To work the shot a bit more, I repositioned the camera for a fourth shot to be more directly above the flower.

By doing this, I was able to eliminate some of the background clutter.  In post processing I also cropped this shot to cut off the left and lower edges of the petal.  I think, again, that this creates some depth to the shot.

The other flower I wanted to feature is what I think is some sort of lily, a flower that I have shot before. Here is the first shot I took of this flower.

There are numerous problems with this shot.  First, it was taken at a wide open aperture of f/3.5, with the focus on the nearest petal extending to the lower right.  Everything else is out of focus.  Moreover, the main portion of the flower has no definition--it is almost completely blown out.  Finally, despite the shallow depth of field, there is a distracting white area just to the right of the main flower.

The next shot was not much better.

I was able to postion the camera to eliminate the white distraction, but the flower is still mostly out of focus, and there is not much definition in the main portion.  For the next shot, I focused on the main portion of the flower rather than the nearest petal.

This gave me better definition in the flower, but I was still disappointed with its lack of texture.  I also decided that I should "straighten up" the flower a bit for better balance.

Not satisfied, I decided to reduce the aperture to f/10.  I also underexposed the shot by 1-1/3 f-stops to try to pull out more texture in the flower.

Better texture, but now I was annoyed by a bright green leaf showing up in the lower left of the image, so I repositioned the camera a bit to move the green spot out of the way.  I also was able ramp up the depth of field with an aperture of f/40.  Finally, I cropped the shot a bit more closely.

This, I feel, was the best shot of the bunch.  Before leaving this flower, I decided to to shoot it straight on.

This was taken at f/16 to try to keep both the center and the edges of the flower in good focus.  But this created a distraction in the upper background.  I also thought the flower looked a bit over exposed, so I underexposed the following shot to try to maximize the texture of the flower.

Technically, this shot is good (with the exception of the "junk" in the upper portion of the image.  However, it just doesn't have the compositional quality of the earlier shots that do a better job of showing off the graceful curves of the linear petals.

Finally, in the first image of this post and the image below, I wanted to include a couple of other shots that I took in this session.

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