Light And Composition Equals Images With Impact!
© 2004 – Michael Brown
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In the years that I have been shooting out in nature, and especially in macro, this image is without a doubt one of my favorites for various reasons and I will explain one or two of those reasons why.
This image I call my “swamp flower”, since I do not know the name of it and the image was taken at the Congaree Swamp National Park here in South Carolina.
I was going through my often used “belly crawl” out in the swamp, when I came upon this very small and beautiful little flower, sitting out and away from the other flowers that were the same.
It was sitting beneath a very high canopy of cypress trees that provided dappled shading/light and only about 6 inches off the ground.
The winds that day were howling in the top of those cypress trees one moment, then dipping down at ground level, picking up debris and slinging it about. Then, there would be moments of absolute calm.
I could see that a shot of this flower at a very low perspective would be difficult, giving the hair thin stem it was sitting on and those winds. Adding the Wimberly Plamp to it was virtually useless.
Using a tripod or a beanbag proved to be a pain also, as that little flower simply could or would not sit still and would quickly vanish from the frame within.
So, … what did I do, and what attracted me to this flower in the first place?
Searching these little flowers at ground level while looking through the viewfinder quickly showed me that they possesed a wonderfully artistic flow in their design. A somewhat overwhelming appeal comes upon me as I look at them while using the lens set wide open, and of course, a very shallow depth of field.
I then added the Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens in reverse to the Canon 100mm macro, just to see what the flower looked like then. “Touchdown”!
It gave me the overall feeling of softness that I wanted to capture, but it was the light that changed while adding that lens in reverse that really grabbed me. It became more soft, more blurred, more evenly distributed in the image.
Now that I had the right combination of lenses, and a very shallow depth of field, how in the world was I going to capture anything with that setup and the high winds?
Tripod low to the ground, or a beanbag with a tiny flower that would not sit still for me. Just how was I to do it?
Well, … I was after a soft look anyway, so why not handhold the camera instead I thought!
It would have been a challenge if I was wanting something that contained details in the flower, so shooting this way worked very well for what I was after.
What captured my attention though, more than anything else, was the lighting that was continually changing within the flower and its surroundings.
Those winds were moving the canopy of trees back and forth, giving me a different lighting setup just about every single second.
I spread out and dug my elbows into the ground, almost putting my chin into the ground and bending my neck about as far as it would go. I let the winds play as they may. I did use one reflector attached to the plamp to help block some of that wind.
All I wanted to do now was to get the flower in the frame and in a pleasing composition, and not to worry about details in the flower.
So, … it was the light that had me shooting over 1GB of images of just this one little flower.
Constantly changing light, with those variations of light on the flower and/or background every second was a challenge, … but ultimately, very rewarding.
Good lighting and composition many times will give you that one image that has “impact”, and is the type of image you should always strive for.
This type of image may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is what appeals to me and what keeps me exploring the varying light and artistic compositions in the world of nature, and in macro!
Canon 100mm macro and Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens attached in reverse
Handheld & available light, plus a reflector to control wind
1/125 sec. @ f2.8
Thanks for looking everyone!
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