This first photo, in the Desert Dome, is sort of a fake shot of a dead juniper branch.
I thought the branch, though obviously dead, was rooted in the ground. But it was actually loose and just propped against the fake stone wall behind it. Even so, I wanted to capture the twisted grain in the wood. I sort of like the composition and the fork in the branch and the graining is OK. But it doesn't have enough going for it.
The next shot was of a relatively large budding desert flower.
The overall bud was perhaps 7-8 inches in length, and that give me a couple of choices. I could back off and include the entire bud, or I could close in and include just a portion of the bud. The former option would present the whole story, so to speak, but at the expense of loss of detail. Much of the detail might still be there, but at normal viewing size it would be partially lost. So I chose to move in and emphasize the detail, at the expense of clipping off the top of the bud. But there is no suspense there anyway, and I did like the renegade bud extending to the right. The big problem is with the background. It is featureless, which might otherwise be OK, but not when it is an ugly tan.
This next is one of those agaves that I have shot numerous times before. I am still trying to capture the right combination of sharp lines and interesting patterns.
Here I cropped the shot down to eliminate any background beyond the agave. The problem was with the color of that background, again an ugly tan. As a result of the crop, the points are too close to the top of the image.
The day was partly cloudy and from time to time the sun would break through. I had told myself that sunlight wouldn't make any difference, but of course it did. For one thing, it allowed me to shoot plants that were being backlit by the sun. Here is one those that sort of worked.
I liked that I had positioned the convergence of the leaf's veins in the upper right corner of the image. What I didn't like was that the leaf was an unattractive blend of light greens. So I converted it to a black & white and ramped up the contrast a bit. That emphasized the black and white "measles" that the leaf exhibited, which added, I thought, to the image's overall interest.
Here is another tropical flower (but in the Show Dome, not the Tropical Dome) that I have shot many times in the past.
Here again I had to decide between presenting the entire flower and focusing on the key elements, which were the yellow stalk and the bright red leaf behind it. I wanted to keep the stalk in focus because of its interesting texture and allow the leaf to go out of focus but retain enough detail to show off the curved ribbing. The result is OK, I think, but I probably could have included a bit more of the overall scene.
Finally, here is a large leaf from the Show Dome that, again, was being backlit by the sun.
Here the challenge was depth of field. I wanted to feature the cleft in the leaf, but I wanted the background to be fully blurred out. At the same time, I wanted the entire leaf to be in relatively good focus. If the leaf were perfectly flat, focus on the leaf would not have been a problem. But that was not the case. I wound up with an aperture of f/8. Given how close my focus was, that was adequate to blur out the background.
Overall, I would give this session a C+.