Saturday, July 21, 2012


I haven't felt very inspired in my photography lately, and I am still waiting.  The other evening I paid another visit to the natural area behind the Unitarian Church.  Really didn't see much, but I did notice that the coneflowers are starting to bloom and there were a number that were nicely lit by the evening sun.

Coneflowers have a cone-shaped cluster of very stiff "bristles" in the center surrounded by a single circular row of purple petals.  Either the petals were already spent or had not fully blossomed, but they were largely nonexistent in the flowers that I saw.  On the other hand, the bristles were nicely developed.

After playing around with different perspectives, I settled on shooting from directly above.  In the very tight shot above that I cropped as a square, I liked the way that bristles were lined in in rows that were spiraling in toward the center, particularly on the right side of the image.

One of the decisions I had to make was depth of field.  Here is a shot taken at a wide open aperture of f/3.5.

The central bristles are in good focus, but those on the periphery are not.  Here is the same shot taken at a narrower aperture of f/10.

Now the peripheral bristles are in much better focus, but the leaves below are also more of a distraction.  I like this second shot better, I think.

I decided to try my hand at a couple of high dynamic range (HDR) shots.  Generally, this means taking 3 or more shots of the very same scene but at varying shutter speeds so that some of the shots are overexposed while others are underexposed.  Then the shots are blended with the help of specialized post processing software.  The result can be quite striking--or garish--depending on one's tastes.

Here is a single shot of one of the coneflowers.

And here is the HDR shot blending the above shot with one 2 f-stops overexposed and one 2 f-stops underexposed.

Not that different, though if one looks closely the second shot is more contrasty.

And here is another attempt at HDR.  Here everything was a little overexposed.  First, the "normal" shot.

And here is the HDR shot.

Not that different, although the colors are a little more vibrant.  This is the same flower that appears at the top of this post.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Mr. Phillips, I'm trying to contact you about licensing one of your photographs for commercial use. If you could reach me at, I'll provide more details. Thank you so much! Michael Owens