Monday, May 07, 2012


As you know from  yesterday's post, I was photographing a rose. A dead one at that. It had been handed out at Indigo, by the store?, for no obvious reason, no strings attached, and it sat on our dining room table until well past it's best before date.

I happened to be reading the Sunday paper and noticed that the nearby window light was falling nicely on the flower - soft but directional - and that the rose might be worth photographing despite it's dried up appearance.

I started with my 90 ts-e lens but couldn't get close enough. I pulled the extension tube off my Lensbaby but that wasn't enough, so went in search of a longer one, and made some images. I then added the smaller tube and moved in a little closer.

Throughout this experimentation I made shots, and every 4 - 8 shots, I'd whip out the card and load the images into the computer to see what could be done with them.

I played with the height of the tripod to look down on the flower more, I rotated the vase while checking live view for the best view. I fiddled with the tilt on both the 90 and the Lensbaby and even experimented with f-stops on the 90 (though wide was best). Four times I made the trip to the computer and each time I learned from my experience and went right back to the rose to have another go.

This business of reassessing the subject and refining the composition and technique was fun and useful, informative and inspiring (to try and improve on the current best shot).

We don't often get such an opportunity to refine a photograph. We are away from the computer, the light is changing too fast, the LCD too small, or we are simply too impatient to move on to the next possible subject matter.

In the real world we can't 'grab the vase and rotate', and we can't bring up the images on 20 - 30 inch monitors to see what really looks best.

That said, we can learn from this experience. How often do we quickly assess the best position to stand, let the tripod choose the height from which to photograph (or simply standing height if we aren't using one) . We take the light we have instead of considering whether it wouldn't be better at a different time, and we don't give enough thought to whether we should attempt sharpness throughout, or a limited focus plane.

I would guess I spend almost three hours with that rose, going back and forth. I have to wonder how many of the subjects I photograph would have made better images had I spent a similar amount of time, refining and considering;  reviewing and re-envisioning.

1 comment:

Tim said...

An invaluable exercise - continually making the transition from rose as subject to live-view as photo.

And every frame you shoot is not just an iterative improvement, it's a fork - see how the compositions changed when the brief is only "capture the soft light on a dead rose".

Increasingly I've started thinking much the same thing about my landscapes - it's funny, even when your subject starts 50yd away, how even a few yards' shift to one side can affect the relative placement of other scene features.