Thursday, June 4, 2015


The Mitchell Park Domes consist of three separate botanical domes, a desert dome with plants from arid climates, a tropical dome with plants from high humidity climates, and a show dome that has changing exhibits.  The domes are connected by a pavilion area.  On my most recent visit to the Domes I was initially disappointed to learn that the show dome was, once again, undergoing a transition and was closed to visitors.  However, once I entered the pavilion I realized that it was featuring a Japanese floral show that included perhaps 30 or so arrangements, giving me an opportunity to photograph both the arrangements and the individual flowers in those arrangements.

Here is an example of an arrangement.

A good thing was that the arrangements were posed against essentially white, neutral backgrounds, a real plus.  On the other hand, in showing the entire arrangement, I am sacrificing attention to some of the details.  I will say that I thought this arrangement in particular had pleasant composition.  However, I decided early on to focus on individual flowers rather than on the full arrangements.

There were a number of entries that featured "daisy-like" flowers, including the following.

My one complaint with the red flower is that it is too monochromatic.  It took a good amount of effort  in post processing to bring out what texture there was in the petals.  The yellow flower exhibits more variation--and interest--in color.  But there are some minor defects in a few of the petals on the upper left.  These flowers were quite large, and I was happy to present only a portion of the flowers in the image.  But I also wanted to include a portion of the flowers' edges.  I also worked to "neutralize" the background on the edge to eliminate it as a potential distraction.  That didn't mean that it had to be monochromatic as in the second shot, but darkening the background in that shot did help the composition, I thought.

Here is one of the roses that I shot.

This photo, of course, breaks the "rule" that I just discussed in the prior shots, as it does not include any edge.  The original image did in fact include the flower's edges, and I cropped them out.  All I can say is that here I was focused on the complex petal structure of this still-opening rose and the remainder of the flower was a lot less interesting.

The following shot is of some delicate desert flowers that were still in the process of opening up.  I confess that I like this shot in part because my macro lens did such a superb job of capturing these: the resolution is outstanding.  This was shot at f/16, and the larger leaf in the background is out of focus, which was fine.  But the main lateral stem, as well as the bases of the leaves as they connected with the stem are close to the same vertical plane as the flowerets and are in excellent focus.  In short, I liked this shot not so much for its subject as for its technical qualities.

The last shots in this series are of an unusual--and relatively large--flower in one of the other arrangements.  

Although it is difficult to tell with the limited resolution of the images on this post, the lighter areas on the margins and backs of the petals are really extremely fine colorless "hairs." 

The updated version of Lightroom, which I use for post processing, includes a high dynamic range (HDR) option.  This involves blending several duplicate images that feature the same lens aperture (and thus the same depth of field) but different exposure times, so that the shots are either under- or overexposed.  The blended result can be richer in dynamic range.  Sometimes the results can be, in my view, garish, depending on the post processing.  On this occasion, I decided to experiment a bit with this HDR option.  HDR files can be quite large, as they are a composition of three or sometimes more shots.  In this case, I was not particularly impressed with the results; they didn't appear that different from a single file that has been through post processing.  One of the HDR shots that I took was of the above flower.  However, both of the above images were of a single shot.  Their HDR-like appearance stems not from post processing but from the unusual nature of the flower.


1 comment:

  1. Such beauty and so well displayed by you, John. Flowers are my favorite pictures except for sunsets.