Sunday, April 8, 2012

RETURN TO THE DOMES: MACRO

Saturday, April 7th, was the first time I returned to the Mitchell Domes following our return to Wisconsin.  This was the day before Easter, and the Show Dome was decked out in Easter lilies and tulips.  However, perhaps my best shot was of an orchid in the tropical dome.  



This and similar orchids were positioned high off the ground (at least seven feet), and I wound up standing on a bench in front of the flower to catch the shot.  It was quite dark behind the flower, and I did not worry about background distractions, so I set the aperture at f/14.  I focused specifically on the curl, which is in very sharp focus.  On my first shot, the curl was directly in front of the straighter portion behind.  In this second shot I was able to keep them separate.  I really did very little to this image in post processing other than to crop it down to the essence of the blossom.  There is a lot of contrast because of the bright sunlight striking the flower, but I am OK with that in this situation.

I only took one or two shots of the Easter lilies.  I just didn't think they made very interesting macro subjects.


I chose to take this as a tight shot to emphasize the pistil and the pollen covered stamens.  I increased the dark tones slightly in post processing which brought out the green tones in the otherwise white blossom.

Here is a whimsical shot of a fern, distinguished by the one dead leaf.


And here are a couple of other shots of standard tropical flowers.


In the above shot, I had to decide between focusing on the red portion or on the texture of the vertical portion.  Here I favored the textured portion.

I had a similar decision to make with respect to the flower below.  There was just too much clutter behind the flower to try to maximize depth of field.  This was taken at and aperture of f/8.  Here the focus is on the light part of the red leaf, which leaves the vertical portion a bit out of focus but not badly.  And the portion of the red leaf reflecting the light is in very good focus, as is the large water drop hanging off the front edge.


I also revisited a dried leaf that I had tried to capture twice before.  I really liked the way the spiked edges had curled together.  The problem was to try to get both edges to be in good focus without allowing the background to rob attention from the subject leaf.  Here is a shot taken at an aperture of f/4.5.


The right edge of the leaf is in very good focus, but not the left.  Here is another shot at an extremely narrow f/51.


Now both edges are in good focus but so is everything else.  I've decided this may be the best I can expect.

Finally, what most caught my eye was a large bed of orange tulips in the show dome that were backlit by the bright sunlight streaming through the dome.  The individual leaves of tulip blossoms generally do not have a lot of texture or coloration differences, so they present some challenges in creating compositional interest.  I realized that while the tulip blossoms were predominantly orange, they did have a yellow underside and I had to get very low to capture that color.  I took a lot of shots sitting on the gravel path of the dome to get down to the same level as the tulips.  Here is one of the shots I got.


Although all of the background tulips are out of focus, the similar coloration creates some confusion, so I wasn't totally happy with this shot.  Here is another shot.


There is some confusion with this shot.  On the one hand, there are some other out of focus orange tulips on the left that provide some context. On the other, there are some blue flowers directly behind and to the right of the subject flower.  In retrospect, it might have been possible to position the shot so the background was filled with blue flowers to provide better contrast.

Another solution to the problem was simply to isolate the subject tulip and take a tight shot.


Not great, especially the asymmetrical internal shadow at the base of the flower.  The background is dark and void of distractions, but the shot just isn't very interesting.

Here is another shot that I think worked better.


This shot was taken at a nearly wide-open aperture of f/4.5.  As a result, there is some point in the image that is in focus, but much of the shot is pretty "soft."  Even so, I like the abstract quality of the shot, predominantly orange but with a couple of hints of green.  My wish would be to have more of the subject tulip in good focus--very difficult given how close the lens was to the subject.

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