Sunday, March 16, 2014

'Rose-Colored' Lenses

The white snowy sights of winter fade away.  Snow piles melt into puddles, rooftops dribble with melting icicles and the soft, wet earth squishes underneath our feet. Overhead, blackbirds and robins begin cackling for spring mating partners.

Yes, I am ready for spring to burst on the scene.  Yesterday would not be fast enough as we just experienced another eight inch snowfall this week.  The frightful weather looks like we should be asking "how many days until Christmas" instead of "when is spring going to get here?"

As in previous winters, we plan to venture to El Dorado, Arkansas, a small, vibrant, historic oil boomtown, to visit my family.

A dose of Arkansas, The Natural State's sunshine, flowers, bluebirds await our return. Southern gardens any time of year are always awash with a variety of vibrant colors and textures.

But for a photographer, their spring time offers that little something extra.

Roses! 

Prissy-Pink Rose
Nikon 600, 105mm, f/9, ISO 160, 1/500

Roses of prissy-pink, scarlet and coral shout "come photograph me",  as almost any angle can offer delicious shades and tints.

It was this time of year, two years ago that I started photography.  And some of the first images were roses.

Do you need a macro lens to capture close-up details?  While I never leave home without my Nikon 105mm macro for close up work, I continue to produce colorful garden eye-candy images with my standard 24-85mm kit lens.

So how do you photograph a rose?

Mom's Coral Rose in the Secret Garden
Nikon 5100, 55mm,  f/8, 1/60sec

Come Photograph Me
Nikon 5100, 105mm, f/18, ISO 400, 1/30 sec
  1. From directly above, from a forty-five degree angle looking down, straight on the side and from underneath looking up a bit.  And then any other angle you want to try.  Get close, step back.  Capture a portion of the rose, the whole flower and then broaden the range to include multiple roses.  This is a playground, enjoy
  2. Using Aperture Priority mode, use multiple f/stops at each of the angles mentioned in #1.  The lower the f/stop number, the shallower the depth of field.  At an f/stop of 3.5, the tip of the petal or the center is in focus and the rest is softly muted.  At an f/stop of 16, more of the flower will be in focus, including some of the background.  Note to self:  always check for dead leaves, brown spots and other distractions before you start capturing images.  
  3. The Rule of Thirds may or may not be applied.  While it is a good guide, each rose and how you capture the image will determine the final product.
  4. Processing.  You've captured many roses.  The ones you know don't like, delete right away.  No reason to clutter memory.  Then take a another close look at your work.  Which ones do you want to process?  Select a few and start making your adjustments.  Lightroom 5  and other post processing software tools (including those provided with your camera) can bring your roses to life as you observed in the field or create dramatic art using your image as the base.

Spring is fast approaching.  Are you ready to see the world of roses through your lenses?  

Happy Shooting!