Spring musings

“If you want something to look interesting, don’t light all of it.” Quote attributed to John Loengard (he died last year at age 85).

Chaparral Currant, Hybrid Hellebore and California Poppy were flowering last weekend at the UC Davis arboretum. There were a few other flowers in the garden: Angel’s Trumpets, succulents, yellow daisies, Manzanita, Narcissus and Oxalis

Spring is finally upon us in California. Soon, the social media sites will be filled with flower pictures, so it’s a good time now to start thinking about different techniques to capture these beautiful subjects. Selective lighting and darkening the background are among my favorite tricks to make a flower picture look a little different. What is yours?

Chaparral Currant

California Poppy

Location: UC Davis Arboretum, CA, USA;

Equipment: Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 105mm F2.8G,  speedlight, off camera trigger, light stand, Rogue Flash Grid System;

Settings: f/5, 1/200”, ISO 100;

Tips: To obtain a dark background,  I used an off-camera speed light going through a Rogue Flash Grid pointing at the flower from the side. The grid directs the light into a spot, rather than illuminating all of the subject. A diffuser between the subject and the flash is always advisable. I used a piece of foam underneath the grid to soften the otherwise hard light coming from the speed-light.   

9 thoughts on “Spring musings

  1. Steve Schwartzman says:

    One technique I use in making a portrait of a wildflower is to look for a dark area in the distance, typically a grove of shaded trees, that I can line my subject up against. The flower then stands out against the dark background. A nature photographer I know in New England is fond of sidelighting.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. howg2211 says:

    These are really beautiful Alessandra. The lighting gives them a real sense of mystery and intrigue. Spring doesn’t get started here until April. Living where you are does have benefits!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alessandra Chaves says:

      Thank you for your kind comment. Yes, it is pretty and warm early in the year, but I spend most of the season hiding inside and taking anti-histamine. In fact a lot of people get sensitized to pollen at some point after moving here, pollen is so dense that the cars become visibly covered in yellow dust…

      Liked by 1 person

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