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"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on."


Robert Frost

Friday, March 30, 2012

Flowers Photographed by Window Light

In the last posting I wrote about taking portraits (animal and human) by window light, but today I'm just showing some pretty flowers I also shot by window light (the same window that I shot my cat sitting near in the last post, come to think of it). I went downstairs a few days ago to make tea and one of my orange clivia miniata plants was in full bloom and sitting in a gorgeous pool of sunlight. I really had no intention of taking pictures that day but my philosophy in photography has always been: when you see it, shoot it. So back upstairs to the office I went, grabbed my D90 and ended up shooting the plant for more than an hour. I've known for some time that I needed to begin filling the photo well again for a series of self-published ebooks that I'm writing and these are among the first shots. (And by the way, after more than 20 books published by commercial publishers, I'm not longer writing for any of them--I've begun my own publishing company. And I'll write more about that decision soon, but suffice to say I've been screwed by publishers long enough: let them write their own books from now on.)

As the sun set the puddle of light was moving, so every few minutes I had to tug the plant back into the light. I did a lot of experimenting too: I shot with both 18-70mm Nikkor and 70-300mm Nikkor lenses and I also played with using flash fill. The flash was a bit overpowering at first, but I wanted to fill some light shadows created by parts of the blossom so I set the flash compensation to -2 stops and that way I was able to use flash to fill those shadows, but the sunlight remained the dominant lighting source. There is, however, no flash in this particular frame--I just aimed the flower into the light. Also, since I shot in both RAW and JPEG simultaneously (uses up a lot of card space, but nice to have both formats automatically) I just set the white balance to auto, knowing that I could adjust it in the RAW file later wherever I wanted it. As it turned out the JPEG was fine and was plenty warm just from the light of the sun, not to mention the orange color of the flower. I didn't use a tripod, which is extremely rare for me, because I was shooting from a couch (my kind of photography) and was able to rest the camera on the arm of the couch.

Photo Notes: The photo was shot with a Nikon D90 dSLR with an 18-70mm Nikkor lens. Exposure, recorded in both RAW and JPEG simultaneously, was 1/200 second at f/8, handheld. There were no adjustments made to the image other than a slight sharpening using the unsharp mask in Photoshop. I used Kenko extension tubes to get closer to the flowers.

2 comments:

Frank Kautz said...

Hi Jeff,

I have to admit, when I first looked at this, I thought that you had used fill flash, but when I read it, I realized you didn't. Did you use a reflector?

By the way, it really is a great picture.

Frank

Jeff Wignall said...

Hi Frank,

Thanks. No, no flash and no reflector, though I did shoot several frames with flash and they don't look that much different. The sun was landing right on the flowers and was very bright so I just kept turning the plant so that the flowers landed in the pool of light. The only reason I used flash on some was to see if it would open up some dark little shadows created by parts of the blossom blocking other parts, but again, not much different. I shot this with a Kenko close-up extension tube, by the way, those tubes (a set of 3) cost about $180 on Amazon, I think, and they're totally worth it. I should blog about them soon. jeff