Sunday, April 14, 2013

MITCHELL DOMES: COMPOSITION

After spending March in Arizona, I finally made my way back to the Mitchell Park Domes on April 13.  There was enough new to shoot that I felt good about the outing.

One of the things I have been working on (or at least thinking about) is including a context in some of my macro shots.  Here is a shot of a lily in which I did not manage to do that.


In this shot I was focusing on featuring the way the flower's petals were curving back.  I chose to shoot the back of the flower because the front of the flower was rather messy, what with its stamens and pistil.  For some reason the petals appear dark.  I tried ramping up the exposure in post processing, but then the petals appeared "blown out," that is, overly bright.  Perhaps I felt it was more important to bring out some of the texture in the petals.

And here's a shot where I did intentionally create some context.


I liked that the buds had the very same color palette as the blossom.  In a sense, the buds were just as much the subject of the image as the blossom.  I didn't mind that the flower was off to the left or that the lower portion of the largest petal was cut off.  I tried this shot in a variety of apertures.  This was shot at f/16, focused on the center of the flower, which kept the buds in adequate focus.  I wish that there had been better definition between the petals of the flower.

Here is a shot of a very red rose that didn't quite work.  


The upper edges of the flower were all pretty much in a plane, and I thought that if I opened up the aperture only the edges would be in focus.  That was true but perhaps there were just too many edges and the effect was simply to make the rest of the flower look out of focus.  The above image was shot at a very small aperture of f/51, keeping everything in focus.  I liked that I placed the heart of the rose off-center and that I just barely left a bit of space to the left.  I did not crop this shot in post processing.

Here is a plant in the tropical dome that has very attractive leaves, which are perhaps 10 inches long.


I took a few shots of individual leaves of this plant, including the leaf on the right that is seen nearly edge-on.  In the end, I thought the unstaged look of multiple leaves in the above shot was the most interesting, as it provided a context.  It looks a little unbalanced, but I wanted to include all of the edge-on leaf in the image.  The leaves were fairly dark, as was the background, so I unexposed this shot some to avoid having the camera think it had to overexpose the shot.

In the following shot I was more interested in the texture of the main stem and in the curve of the smaller stem leading to the blossom than in the blossom itself.  But I did want to include a portion of the blossom for context.


Here again I played with a number of apertures.  I wanted to keep as much of the stems and blossom in focus as I could without creating a distracting background.  This was a compromise, at f/16.  The background is sufficiently blurred out, I think, to minimize its distraction quotient.

Here is a flower from the tropical dome that I have shot many times.  I was attracted to this particular flower for its wart-like central stalk, and that is certainly where I set the focus, which is really quite sharp.


But I was also attracted to the green tip of the flower's otherwise red "petal."  This was shot at f/18 which kept most of the petal in relatively good focus, including the blend of colors in the petal.  This shot was not cropped in post processing.  I'm not sure whether I should have left some space above the petal edge on the left.

The Domes were featuring an exhibit of Japanese flower arrangements in the common area between the exhibit domes.  The rose in one of the shots above is from that exhibit, as was the following shot.


Again, I played with a number of compositions to find one that would create some context, namely, that there were other examples of the ball-like flower in the display.  I also played with a number of depth of field choices.  I finally settled on this one, with a wide-open aperture of f/4, which nicely blurred out the other flowers.  It resulted in leaving only a portion of the featured flower in good focus--the margins were out of focus--but I was OK with that.

Finally, here is a shot of a flower in one of the other floral arrangements.


Originally, I did not intend this as a square composition, although the original image didn't include much more of the flower.  In truth, in post processing I noted that there was a light background in the lower left of the image and decided to crop the shot down to include nothing but the flower and that light background.  The colors in this flower seemed almost surreal.  And, in fact, I significantly underexposed the shot to tone down the colors.  In post processing I tried to investigate some definition in the flower's dark center, but there simply wasn't much there.

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