The last few inches

What happens to the seeds failing to reach the ground?  How frustrating that must be to the tree after all that work in spring, summer and fall.  Will the sinking level of the snow gradually lower the seeds to earth where they can complete their mission?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Autumn Extremes

Fall colors around here weren’t as I expected.  The many people I’ve mentioned this to are mostly likely tired of hearing about it and would prefer the seasons move on to something new.  Between being disappointed and being busy at work I’m only now starting to look through all my images to see how they may turn out.

So far a couple have caught my attention.  Neither is the grand landscape of fall quilted colors, but rather portray those aspects unique to photography of showing something usually missed or very difficult to see.

Lines of the season

Lines of the season

This one is just a close-up of a few leaves.  These were surrounded by hundreds of similar colored and shaped leaves but what caught my attention was how the lines and shadows enhanced the dimensionality of the composition.  The light was just the right angle to bring out the surface details while being bright enough to highlight the color.  All the little irregularities in the leaf, signs of its end, break up the linear nature of the image and bring some character to the subject.  It’s a scene easily missed if you are literally looking at the forest instead of the trees.

Morning Shore

Morning Shore

This one is a multi-image HDR composition, with enough exposures to enable the viewer to see the rocks as well as the clouds at sunrise.  The location overlooks Lake Michigan and that morning a strong wind was pushing 4-5 foot swells right into the rocky shoreline – hence the wispy appearance of the water.  Standing there you would be able to see the sunrise or the rocks, but probably not both – the dynamic range was too great even for human eyes.  I liked the color version but it was complex – grey rocks, green grass, pale blue water, pink/orange sunrise – and hard to decide on the subject.  Turning it into B&W resolved much of the conflict, I believe.  Now it portrays textures, from hard to soft, permanent to ethereal, giving a sense of anticipation of what might happen next across three distinct layers from bottom to top.

Getting hyped up about fall colors is easy to do since I have a history of color slides for my early photography experience.  Each year I just want to capture that feeling again, only this time with better skills and “seeing” so that I’m amazed at the images.  Some years it happens; some it doesn’t.  What I have to keep remembering is there are scenes everywhere – just have to seek them out and make something of them.

 

Spring on the forest floor

With the fluctuations in temperature and wetness there are days when it feels like spring wants to stay in bed with the covers pulled up.  Still, there is a gradual warming as the sun stays in the sky longer, and there are pockets of rain enough to encourage the plants to come out and get started on another year.

I got down close to see what’s coming up in the back yard forest and was rewarded with a few plants getting ready to bloom.  Wrestling with the macro equipment, tripod and lighting was a challenge, one that made me start wondering whether I have the right tools for the job.  Maybe I’d do more macro if it didn’t feel like I needed four arms!  Nonetheless, the images worked out fine.

The trillium is a woodland flower that seems to appear overnight – suddenly they are everywhere showing off their three petal flower.  I was lucky to find a few just getting ready to bloom.

The purple trout lily (named such apparently due to the spotted leaves) is all over the forest – looks like a new lawn coming up with all the green against the brown of the dead leaves.  The blooms will open up and curve back soon so I’ll need to be ready for that.

It’s the time of year a photographer could just simply go to the same place in the woods everyday and expect to see something new.  Have you looked in your yard lately?

Trillium

Trillium

Purple trout lily bloom

Purple trout lily bloom

Purple trout lily stretching

Purple trout lily stretching

Trillium

Trillium

Trillium

Trillium

Renewal

Plants insist that spring is here now, in spite of the recent snow and chilly temperatures.  Yeah, flowers get all the attention with their bright petals and colorful throats designed to attract pollinators.  What does the beginning look like?  Who pays attention to the small sprout coming up out of the cold ground announcing the change of seasons?

Well, I did lately.  Playing around with a focusing rack designed for macro photography I made some really close images of early spring.  I’m still learning the ins and outs of focus stacking, both the mechanical and processing tricks.  Very short depth of field close-ups are perfect for this since you can control the viewer’s attention by defining what’s in focus and what’s not.

Here’s a crocus that’s made it up ready to bloom.

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And here’s a peony sprout pushing its way up to form a stalk that will be 2-3 feet tall and support a huge blossom.

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I liked the tones in this image.  It was a cloudy day with the sun over my right shoulder and the lighting turned out looking like a studio set-up.  But no, I’m down on my knees with my camera on the ground making a dozen images that will be blended into this broader depth of field.  But about those tones.  I thought this one would look better as a monochrome – let me know what you think.

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Clearly spring

I’m back on a sharpness kick.  Guess it has to do with what happens when you take some time to really see what you’re looking at in the world around you.  Snapping pictures casually is great for documenting your presence at a place and time, but to really show what you’re seeing means you’ve actually seen it.  And really seeing is an individual activity – each person sees something unique, some aspect that defines the whole just for that person.

For me the incredible sharpness that results from good technique and good gear enhances the three dimensional appearance of the subject.  Every nuance stands out but also merges with all the other elements to present the expected aspect of the subject.  Sharpness enables the photographer to shape the story in the image, telling the viewer to pay attention here, but it’s OK if you ignore over there.

Flowers make great subjects for this type of work.  They aren’t going anywhere, they have marvelous details, and although they constitute the scenery for a whole season, they are gone before you know it and won’t be back for a year.  All this means paying attention to them right now, in this moment, returns wonderful rewards.

It’s also one place where color isn’t a distraction!

Reality counts

The plant world is waking up.  New growth is emerging as last year’s growth makes room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the time of year I don’t understand black-and-white photographers.  How can they ignore the eruption of life in color?  Sure, the method works for telling a story or making a point or drawing attention to details of a scene, but it’s not how the world looks.  If color isn’t important to observing and appreciating the world, why is it here?