Thursday, March 6, 2014

Unexpected Abstract

Leaves and flowers make wonderful photographic subjects, and many of us love to shoot them. Often we see and photograph what appears before us, and we do our best to create lovely images of some of Mother Nature’s finest creations.

A fun change of pace is to look for the hidden, the unexpected, the unique. This shot is of the edge of a green leaf (yes, a GREEN leaf), with other green leaves forming the background.

It is exciting to go stalking possible subjects (plants, not people!) at botanical gardens. Usually there are many species of plants that provide a wide variety of opportunities for unusual subjects or unusual views.

If you have a macro lens, it is perfect for this type of shooting. But even if you don’t, you can still find many subjects that will work well for up close and personal views. 

Either wide angle or telephoto lenses will work, and will result in very different images. With a wide angle lens, get as close to the subject as your lens will allow you to focus. Pay very careful attention to the background since the wide lens will encompass much of that. With a telephoto lens, also get as close as your lens will allow to focus. The background will be rendered blurrier than with a wide angle lens, but even so it is important to pay careful attention to the background elements and make sure they are not distracting.

Take your time, look at everything from the top, side, bottom, front and back. Look at the light direction  -  backlight can be especially appealing, but sidelight and front light can also work well.

Look for lines or shapes. Look for pleasing color combinations. Be especially careful with the backgrounds, since a distracting background can ruin an otherwise lovely image. The best way to diminish background issues is to use shallow depth of field. I often shoot flowers and leaves with the lens set at a very large aperture like f/2.8 or f/4. That assures that what I have focused on is sharp, like the edge of this leaf, and allows everything else to go soft.

Try many different views, different angles, and different f/stops. Try hand-holding instead of using a tripod. Doing so will enable you to more easily and quickly compose your shots. Keep in mind, though, that if you use Live View for checking focus (which I rarely do), your camera will have to be on a tripod.

Go out for the day with no preconceived ideas of what you want to shoot. Be open to whatever moves you, and take your time to enjoy your surroundings. By doing so, you will most likely return home with lovely and unexpected images that expand your creativity and provide good feelings of a day well spent.

Shutter Speed 1/400 sec.  Aperture f/2.8.  ISO 200.  Lens: Canon 100mm macro f/2.8.  Camera: Canon 40D.  Handheld.

TODAY’S QUOTE: “If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail.”  --Heraclitus

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