Jumping back to the photography related posts for this entry. If you spend any time on my little off ramp here, you have probably noticed that a large portion of my time behind the glass is spent shooting wildlife – particularly my feathered friends and the larger mammals when the opportunity arises. In truth, I actually take a lot of pictures of different subjects but generally keep those to myself unless there is something unique (leopard moths) or creepy about them (think arachnids). Every once in awhile I’ll go crazy and take a picture of a perfectly still mountain or lonely tree. These choice shots I tend to leave for my wife because that is her domain and I wouldn’t want to intrude on that or we might get into competition on who has better focus principles, who has better mastery of composition or grasps the concepts of light. Everybody knows I’m not really one for competition especially when it comes between a husband and wife. Unfortunately, a certain someone has started creeping out of “her” ummm let’s go with “their” comfort zone…. maybe taking big game shots and pitting them against other wildlife shots. I’m fine with that, of course, just saying…
So today, I decided to branch out a little myself just to mix it up a little bit around here. Linda and I were out at Jubilee Park, once again checking out what the park had to offer for photo ops. The birds have been a little scarce the last few times we were there forcing me to look a little closer to ground for interesting subjects. This led me to a clump of purple wildflowers filled with activity.
As the norm these days, the D7000 was supporting both the Beast and 1.4 Tele (I need to give this one a cool name too). What better time than to get a little practice in on using big glass on smalls. For those who have not tried this, to characterize it as a difficult is a huge understatement. It is hard enough trying to get a bird tack sharp while hand holding glass this heavy, but to accomplish this on a subject that is smaller than the central focus can drive you crazy. Looking at it from a different perspective, the better you get at this level, the better you will get a pictures that matter… I mean pictures of birds – yes birds. There is definitely one major advantage of larger glass in this arena – at open aperture it throws the background into silky smooth bliss. A nice benefit over having to fight the extremely tight depth of field. You can get a feel for just how tight that is in the next shot.
Taking into account the size of the bee, you can extrapolate that to the size of the flower. Notice how the back half of the flower is fading out of focus – probably looking at a couple of inches of play at best. Now comes the tradeoff in the field. Do you continue the fight to keep the center focus exactly where you need it and compensate for the likely drift of the focus and any inherent movement of the subjects or do you buy yourself some contingency by stepping the Aperture down (higher f# but in truth it is inverted). There are tradeoffs whatever decision you make, but in truth all of us amateurs have a great debt of gratitude to the inventors of digital media – I would hate to even think about the bill for developing the number of shots we actually took that day. In my mind, the right decision is to do both – experiment, learn and hit that magical delete key on the less than perfect.
Hit the jump to continue the discussion
I did mentioned there are tradeoffs on the decision. Going the buffer route can cause you to lose your silky smooth backgrounds. As an example, the shot below brings additional clarity to the background.
The subject has a tendency to get lost if you overdue this – as opposed to the first shot where the viewer’s eye is not distracted by outside clutter. Sure you can fix some of this up in post processing, however, the more intricate the main subject is (think petals and bee hairs), the longer you will spend in the digital darkroom. Since this isn’t a gallery shot I’d just as soon spend that time writing a blog entry.
Admittedly, it didn’t take long for my thoughts to drift while engaged in this setting. “Drift” in this context should be more accurately translated to “Let it go”. Now why would that come to mind? Was I thinking – “Hey, this subject is far inferior to a bird shot, why not just leave and go hunt down a real subject.” Or maybe it was a self awareness moment to let my creative juices flow, be in the moment and unburden from the confining restrictions of composition, light and exposure math. The former would be a good guess under normal circumstances, but in truth I was internally replaying the words from my lovely wife. More accurately “You need to just let that go”
Thinking how ironic those words were, I decreased the Aperture, slapped the setting on high speed continuous, set the focus on a single flower and fired off about 10 bursts…..knowing that one of those was going to contain …
Hehehehe, I crack myself up. I’ll probably pay for this, but being in this specific moment, I’m enjoying myself immensely. By the way, after a quick Google search I found this site RedBubble (link here) that had a real nice catalog of purple wildflowers. Based on a quick comparison I believe this particular flower is a Bee Balm which I felt was quite fitting. I didn’t want to leave you without at least one takeaway.
Hope you enjoyed a little detour on the photography front.