Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Making of A Photograph - Purple Thistle Blossom Macro

I've received many positive comments on my Purple Thistle Blossom Macro photograph. I thought that this morning I should explain a little more about that image.

The photograph was captured in my front yard. This proves that you don't have to go far to photograph. There are tons of photographic opportunities in your house and neighborhood.

This photograph wasn't necessarily planned. The thistle seemed to appear overnight, and right away it blossomed. It was in an unusual spot, too.

I noticed the bloomed thistle while I was on my way out to town. I thought that it might be worth photographing, but I didn't do anything about it. After returning home I decided that I needed to take a moment out of my day to capture it. So I grabbed my Nikon D3300 and a 40mm macro lens.

The background was busy and terrible. Simply blurring it with a shallow depth-of-field would not have been enough. A distracting background is distracting whether it is in focus or not.

I grabbed a piece of black (more like dark grey) construction paper and enlisted the help of my daughter. I had her hold the paper about one foot away from the thistle. This was close enough that the paper filled the background, but far enough away that the thistle didn't cast a shadow on the paper.

It was mid-day, with the sun just a little lower than directly above. This might seem like less-than-ideal lighting, but actually the lighting was great. You see, the closer the end of the lens is to the subject, the more narrow the depth of field will be. I needed lots of light to increase the depth of field.
Purple Thistle Blossom - Stallion Springs, California
ISO 110, f11, 1/125
As you can see above, my first attempt was not a resounding success. I was too far away. The composition was a bit awkward. I needed to refine my vision.

I had to understand what it was about the thistle that made me want to photograph it in order to effectively capture it. What immediately stood out to me was the blossom itself. It was bright and colorful, with fragile white pollen on the long purple stems.
Purple Thistle Blossom Macro - Stallion Springs, California
ISO 160, f14, 1/125
I moved in closer so that the point would be immediately obvious. Because I moved in closer I made an adjustment to the aperture. I tilted the camera slightly to make the composition more interesting.

Using Alien Skin Exposure 6 software, I made the image look like it had been captured using Kodachrome 25 film. I wasn't completely satisfied with the look, so I made some small adjustments to the light curve and added color saturation. I'm quite satisfied with the final result.

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