Back in the ‘hood …

A couple of things occurred to me this past weekend as I was out walking our border collie, Molly.  The first being that this has been an unusual spring in that, despite or because of the warm, dry winter,  many of the flowering plants I was used to seeing did not seem to bloom as normal or hang around as long as they have in previous years.  The second realization was that I had not taken a photograph in a week.  So, Sunday morning, again while walking Molly, and despite the light mist, I decided to carry my camera with the 85mm f/3.5 attached along with me.  My thought was to photograph some neighbor’s flowers that had caught my eye.The overcast sky and light mist made for very even lighting, saturated colors, and there was little to no wind – an almost ideal setup, but things never go as planned.  As I have mentioned before, the things I have previously glimpsed, that moved me to pick up the camera in the first place, rarely turn out to be the things I photograph successfully.  Having Molly with me meant that my tripod was at home and I would have to hand-hold all my shots. This turned out to be a problem in that my hands are not as steady as they used to be and, despite pushing my ISO to 500, I was still dealing with a shutter speed of 1/15 sec. at f/8, which is not conducive to sharply capturing  small droplets on petals.  In the end, I gave up on trying for a conventional shot and decided to go with what the scene and the weather were giving me.  In this case, I found a small, purple, globular flower on a very straight stalk leaning against a yard light pole.  I set the camera up to do a 5-shot multiple exposure sequence, and then moved it very slightly between exposures, hoping for some sort of off-register pattern that would mitigate my lack of absolute steadiness.  I took two sequences like that, and this is the better of the two.  I finshed the image by cropping it into an almost square shape to get rid  of most of the focus fall-off at the left and right edges due to the shallow depth of field, and then added a little contrast and saturation, and a border to provide some structure. I hope you enjoy it.




Smokies – Day 3 (Part 3)

We spent our final afternoon of shooting at Greenbrier, which is on the NW side of the park.  The objective was to shoot water reflections.  We waited until late afternoon so that shadows from the lowering sun would begin to cover the Little Pigeon River, but, at the same time still have  bright blue skies overhead.  The results we were looking for were that the shadowed water would reflect the colors of both the sky and the surrounding foliage from the opposite bank, which was still sunlit.  This technique is especially effective in the fall when the trees are still carrying the autumn colors.  Greenbrier is noted for its flowering dogwood in the spring which reflect well in the water, but because spring is so advanced this year, the dogwood blooms were over and we had to settle for the plain green of the foliage.

We varied our shutter speeds in order to capture the varied aspects of the water which was moving very swiftly due to recent rains.  The first two images were shot only a few feet apart at 1/4 sec. at f/22.  The relatively short exposure captured the motion of the water without freezing it. The reflections from the sky and the leaves on the opposite bank of the Little Pigeon are very evident in this first image.

This image was taken only a few feet away from the previous one, but the water was in deeper shadow, and the colors are somewhat more muted. 

This last image was taken a little further down stream, where the water was flowing more smoothly.  While it was still petty turbulent, the 60 sec. exposure smoothed out the water’s motion, making it, in essence, featureless.  I don’t think this is a successful photograph, but have included it as an example of what long shutter speeds can do to water.  I used my B+W 10 stop neutral density filter to get the long exposure in bright daylight.