Monday, May 11, 2009

Lily of the Valley

The other day the Lily of the Valley that my great-grandmother planted along side my house was in full bloom. The smell was great and I wanted to capture the beauty of the tiny white flowers. I had a few ideas in my head so I grabbed my camera and headed out.

It was a gray overcast day and had been raining off and on for about a week, so I thought it would be a good chance to catch some water on the leaves and flowers. I wanted to capture the delicateness of the flowers while still seeing the all the details of the foliage. The key to me was showing that these were my flowers that had been raised by my family for over 60 years.

I started out hand holding my 70-300mm lens with a 20mm extension tube, using manual setting I adjusted to what the camera's meter told me was the correct exposure for an aperture of f10, and took the first shot. Looked at the LCD and the image was dark.

I did not want to adjust the aperture because I wanted to catch as many many details as possible and at a 90mm focal length at 1/200 I did not want to slow down my shutter speed. So I headed to the camera bag grabbed my Sony HVL-F58AM flash, set it to TTL, slightly recomposed and fired off a shot. .

The composition was good, the details were good but the thing that got me was the flash overexposed the details in the white flowers. So I dialed down the flash exposure compensation 1 stop, cropped in tighter and shot another shot.

I really liked this shot with the water drops on the flowers, the composition, the colors and depth of field. It is a good shot but it was not what I wanted to see for my final image. Out of time before I had to go get my 5 year old from pre-school I put the camera away and headed off unsatisfied. When I got I was working around the house and it hit me like a ton of bricks I should use a wider lens. So back out I went with my 18-70mm, 12mm extension tube and flash. With a few quick frames to adjust for exposure and depth of field I got the shot I was looking for.

To me it showed the details of the flowers that had been undisturbed and the brick of my house let my know that this was mine, not some shot that you could google showing just the flowers and foliage. The only down side was that since it had not rained for a couple of hours I was minus the water drops. I guess I could have grabbed a sprayer and made the drops myself but I was happy with the shot. I uploaded it to the computer and using the RAW file and Ufraw I made a slight exposure adjustment. I then took the image into Gimp and adjusted the levels, contrast, and sharpened the image to get the final image.

In all I took 28 photos to get to this point. Sometimes I can get to where I want to be in one or two shots but sometimes it take several shots over several hours.