Friday, July 3, 2015

SHOOTING CATTAILS

I found myself at Virmond Park, situated on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan a few miles from my home.  Looking around for things to shoot, I came across some cattails.  I haven't done a lot of nature photography of late, so I was happy to "see" some possibilities in an area that I have neglected.

The problem was how best to capture these relatively mundane plants.  Early on I was focusing on single cattails, as in the following shot.


Here I was intent on maintaining focus on the cattail.  This was shot at f/4 and at fairly close range.  As a result, the background was very soft.  Not terrible, but just too simple, I thought.  I decided I needed to bring the swordlike leaves more into play.  The light was nice, though.

I then decided to take a series of broader shots at various apertures.  This is something I do frequently because I am concerned with the background.  This first shot was at f/13.  This brought most of the cattails into decent focus, but I thought it also brought too much background into the shot, creating a distraction.


The next shot was at f/9.


Better, but I thought the gap just to the left of center was still a little too busy.

The final shot in this series was taken at a wide open f/3.2.


I think this is the best of the series.  I had put the autofocus on the cattail on the left.  This left the other cattails out of focus.  Even so, I thought the overall effect was pleasant.

One little detail that I noticed was a dead leaf that had gone horizontal.  And that is what I focused on for the next two shots.  The first was taken at close range at f/5.  Just OK.


The second was taken at f/3.2.  However, it was taken at a greater distance.  As a result, the effective depth of field was actually a little greater.


In the end, I decided that the leaf was a distraction and really took away from the intended subject, which was the cattails.

My favorite shot of the series was the following.


This was shot at f/9.  I think it does the best job of maintaining interest and focus on the foreground items without introducing too much distraction in the background.

John

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