Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I know it's lazy to look to the Mitchell Domes for doing macro nature photography, but, given its available diversity of flora and the fact that there is generally little or no wind, it is easy and reliable.  So last week, once again, I found myself going back for more.  This time I focused on floral subjects and used both my macro and my telephoto lenses.  Most of the telephoto shots were handheld, which meant ramping up the ISO to keep shutter speeds at a reasonable level.

Often I find that the back of a flower is an easier, and perhaps more interesting, photographic subject, as with the following flower.

I took this with my macro set to f/3.5 to blur out the background.  This meant that the depth of field was so shallow that only parts of the flower are in good focus, including the peek at the front side of one of the petals shown at the bottom of the image.  But I thought it was more important to eliminate background distractions than to bring more of the flower into focus.

The show dome has a micro-pond, and I liked this relatively large pond flower, which I shot with my telephoto because of the placement of and distance to the flower relative to the visitor path.

I could have cropped this as a square image, but I wanted to include some of the pond lily leaves as context.  There was bright sunlight on the flower, so shutter speed was not an issue for handheld.  This was shot at f/5 (the widest aperture available with my telephoto) at 1/2000 second.

The pond also included a larger, more dramatic flower, which I captured in the following shot.

This is really quite a nice shot.  I was able to position the light flower against a mostly dark background.  As a result, the camera overexposed the flower a bit in its attempt to achieve an overall balanced exposure.  Then in post processing I reduced the exposure on the flower petals to bring out more of the texture in the petals.  This flower must have been 7-8 inches across.  Interestingly, this was shot with the lens at a wide open f/5, but the distance was so great that the flower looks as though all of it is in focus.  This points up the fact that depth of field is a function of a combination of aperture and distance to the subject.

A close look at the flower in the above photo reveals the corner of a green cup-shaped seed pod peeking out from near the top of the flower, two other examples of which are featured in the following shots.

The pod in the second shot was in a fairly advanced stage of decay, but the image resolution on the upper surface of the pod was great.  These pods appeared to be 3-4 inches across.

I also stumbled across this pair of blossoms in the tropical dome.

Because of their height off the floor, these were practically inaccessible with my macro lens, so I took the shot handheld with my telephoto at f/5.3 for 1/160 second with an ISO of 400.

One of the plants that I had never noticed before was sporting the following seed displays.  (These are not fake.)

They were hanging down by vine-like extensions on a large bushy plant that was otherwise nondescript.  (I couldn't find a sign anywhere identifying the plant's name.)  These seed pods were quite large, perhaps 6-8 inches across and 12-18 inches long, and just as colorful as is shown here.  Again taken with my telephoto but this time on a tripod.

Near the end of my visit I came across this lovely blossom in the tropical dome.

This was a very "three-dimensional" blossom, and I wasn't that far away, so I thought I should set my lens at a fairly narrow aperture to keep as much of the flower in focus as I could.  Because the photos were shot handheld with my telephoto, I ramped up the ISO, this time to 1250, to avoid any blur from camera movement.  Shutter speeds were 1/320 and 1/500, respectively.  I converted the second shot to a black & white, which I thought worked quite well.  I also underexposed the shots one f-stop which served to darken the background, which I further darkened in post processing.

I realize these images are quite "soft."  However, I felt that so long as a portion of the subject is in sharp focus, the viewer will be forgiving of the out-of-focus quality of remainder of the image.

Finally, in the tropical dome I noticed a jumble of banana leaves that were being backlit by the sun coming through the dome's glass panels, and I took the following shot, which is cropped somewhat.  Once again, I took this handheld with my telephoto at f/5.6 and an ISO of 320 for 1/500 second.

I realize that this is not a flower shot, but it is my favorite of the bunch, mostly I think because of its intelligible abstract quality and because of the diversity of its colors (which are not fake, by the way).


1 comment:

  1. John, What beauty you are able to capture. Detail in the flowers are great