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Another Burst of Colour

By salopian
Another group of flowers of a single colour but this time I have left the colours in the background. Maybe a bit tight but I wanted to fill the frame with the beautiful colour leaving just enough background to show the garden situation

Tags: Garden Flowers and plants Campanula

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Coast 13 1.6k 292 United Kingdom
5 Mar 2014 4:19PM
It is certainly a brightly coloured image and as you've stated what your intention was here, I think you have achieved that.

There is an odd streak at the top of the frame that looks a little like clone lines and would need attending too.

Looking at the EXIF data I'm not sure if 200 ISO was needed although the only real difference it would have made here is reducing the shutter speed had you come down to 100 ISO. I would like to see more space around the flower and think with a wide aperture to keep the background as soft as possible and careful framing you could have got a stronger picture. It does feel too tight for me. I appreciate that is what your intention was however it makes this no more than a nice colourful snap.

It is a nice photograph and a pleasing record of the flower but a little more creative thought at the shooting stage may have got a different and more striking result.
paulbroad 14 131 1293 United Kingdom
5 Mar 2014 4:37PM
Nothing much wrong with it, in my opinion. Not earth shattering in terms of impact but a perfectly well done and worthwhile flower shot. The background adds a foil to the bloons and, even with so many, it works well. The buds, top right, act as a focal point.

dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1885 England
5 Mar 2014 5:00PM
Group portraits (which is what this is) are a difficult thing to get right.

You need to make sure that everyone is in, of course. (Here, you have a few stragglers going out of frame at the bottom and right hand side.) And you also need to find a pleasing arrangement of the subjects you've got - with people, you can shuffle them around to make a nicel, well-formed group: with flowers, you are stuck with the arrangements you can see, though you can move around to vary things a bit!

In this case, it's not at all a bad group, and you have chosen an aperture that allows you to throw the background nicely out of focus.

Heather Angel, doyenne of nature photographers, recomends taking black cloth and cloth bands along, so that you can get a really plain background, and maybe hold stray stems out of the way. I've been known to improvise (that is, ask Mrs Dudler to hold the odd stem or leaf back). However, you always need to be careful not to do damage of any sort, and not to spoil the enjoyment of others by turning a public garden into your own personal studio...

The narrow plane of focus carries a price, though - you can't have the blooms sharp throughout the group, and some of the nearer and further ones are slightly soft. You can use a very wide aperture to make a feature of this: or maybe close down the aperture a fraction to make them sharper.

I've tried a mode with a squarer format, cropping tight on all sides, and using levels to deepen the colours a little, for (I hope) added drama.
pamelajean Plus
15 1.6k 2239 United Kingdom
5 Mar 2014 11:59PM
Looking at this and your rhododendron, Geoff, in both cases you have chosen a "cluster" of flowers as opposed to a single flowerhead, which is a bit more difficult when it comes to focus and depth of field.

The difficulty lies in the fact that such flowers don't have a level plane of focus, so some parts are further away from your lens than others, and your camera will render just one focus plane sharp, unless you increase your depth of field.
You used f5.6 on the rhododendron (which looked good), and f4 here, for the harebells. That slight change has made a lot of difference.

If you look objectively at these harebells, you will notice that they are not very sharp. In fact, the sharpest parts are the leaves in the middle. I don't think you focused on the flowers themselves. What can happen is for the camera to use the buds as its focus point, not the flowers (they are closer to your lens). What can also happen, without an appropriate depth of field, and even with you focusing on the actual flowers, is for the buds to become out-of-focus, which I don't think looks too good.

Stepping back a bit, shooting from a greater distance, can help, but it's your aperture setting that will be of most benefit, so you needed at least f5.6 for this one, probably narrower (the higher the f-number the narrower the opening). A smaller aperture ensures that most of your image will be in focus, whether it is close to your camera or far away. You were using Aperture Priority, so the choice was yours.

The shallow depth of field that a wide aperture gives you does blur your background, but it can also leave the outside edges of your subject blurred, unless you choose wisely. The best way to get your head around it is to use different apertures on the same flower and see how it looks when you preview it on the screen. Every flower will be different.

John mentions pre-shooting techniques, and it's something I often do. The easiest thing to carry in your camera bag is a rolled up piece of material. I find that dark green and black are my favourites. Use some clothes pegs to "hang" it behind your subject, or enlist the help of a friend. Alternatively, use coloured card. Using this method, you don't have to worry about blurring your background because you have made it yourself, and it is plain. So you can use a much smaller aperture, to your heart's content, and get everything in focus.

Having said all of that, a lot of flower photographers purposefully use selective focus, concentrating perhaps on just one part of the flower, or maybe just a few out of a grouping like this. But the bits that ARE in focus need to be really sharp for it to be effective. Your purpose needs to look obvious. This way, you give the image a focal point, somewhere for the eye to settle.

I think this image falls between two extremes. Getting everything inside the frame with space around it/going in closer for some nice detail and filling the frame with the flowers, with little background visible.

I had a play with this and came up with a modification that shows the sort of thing that I would be likely to do with these flowers. I made some contrast adjustments and sharpened. I selected a group that I liked and removed the rest, then blackened the background. I would then probably select the black and give the background a completely different tone or hue, but that's not necessary. Your subject just needs to stand out and be in focus.

salopian 10 3 28 United Kingdom
6 Mar 2014 4:48PM
Thanks - a great set of useful comments and advice. I have taken them on board and will try to apply them when nature puts on her annual miracle of spring and summer!


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