Photo+Story: Backlit Flowers on Sunny Days

In my prior post I was bemoaning sunny days when out shooting flowers at our local botanic garden, and I suggested that finding a few flowers in the shade was a good option.  But I thought of something else that worked for me on Sunday.

I remember walking through the gardens looking at flowers and seeing behind the flower beds a group of palm leaves (or similar plant) growing out of one of those big 18" diameter clay pots.  With the powerful sun lighting them from behind they appeared very colorful, and certainly bright enough to attract my attention.  So, I am thinking that backlit flowers would be a good theme or project on sunny days.  I need to remember that for the next time I feel like photographing flowers and it is a sunny day.

For these images I put the Panasonic GX80/85 with Olympus 60mm macro in my backpack, as the prime lens did not have enough reach, and pulled out my E-M1 with Olympus 12-100mm F4.  Even zoomed in at 100mm (200mm equivalent) this image is cropped a bit.  One reason I always bring a zoom with me is that botanic gardens have rules about walking on the paths only. This means if the desired flower or subject is off the beaten path, you have no option but to go for a longish zoom or telephoto lens.

Backlit Palm Leaf
Olympus E-M1 and 12-100mm F4 @ 100mm

1/250 sec, F8, ISO 400


Photo+Story: Look For Shade On Sunny Days (Flowers)

Well, of course, not always is shade what you want.  But I’ve learned to dislike bright sunshine when shooting flowers.  Without clouds to diffuse the sunlight, the lighting is just too harsh.  And even if you hold a diffuser between the sun and the flower with your left hand while holding the camera with your right hand, there is always the background that will be a mix of bright and dark areas.  I find such a background very distracting, and improving it in Lightroom is time consuming, if not challenging.

So the story is that on Sunday I drove to our local botanic garden in hopes for some nice flowers and photos.  The flowers were nice all right, with lots in bloom.  However the overcast day that I was in hopes of having (for the diffused light) turned into a 100% sunny day almost as soon as I got there. I was not happy with any of the flowers I shot in the sunny conditions.

I did find one bed of pink flowers in the shade of some tall evergreen bushes.  I like the image below. You will see that there a no deep dark shadows on the flower, nor bright or blown out highlights.

With my mFT cameras (Panasonic and Olympus) I generally hope for enough light to shoot at ISO800 or less, and at a minimum shutter speed of 1/250 to account for possible plant movement. It is also be nice if I can get away with a aperture as small as F8, though I typically shoot wider open than that.  I might use F8 (on mFT) for the depth of field, but all too often F8 brings too much of the background in focus. 

Pink Flower
Panasonic GX80/85 with Olympus 60mm F2.8 Macro
1/160 sec, F4, ISO 200

This photo was taken at 1/160sec, F4 and ISO200.  It looks like I was shooting in aperture priority and neglected to see that the shutter speed was below my target minimum of 1/250 sec.  Nevertheless 1/160 was quite adequate for the day’s wind conditions.  Also, I was able to hold the camera very steady because I was sitting on an 8” stool with my elbows on my thighs.

But notice that although the flower was in shade, the background was not in the shade and was a bit blotchy with dark and bright spots... which I find annoying.  I did, however, use the radial tool in Lightroom to darken the area outside of the flower.


Walk Around: BMW's First Motorcycle - the R32

The R32 was manufactured between 1923 and 1926.  It was BMW's first motorcycle.  It had an 8.5 hp 486 cc engine (about 30 cubic inches), and could reach about 60mph.  I'm not sure how safe it seems, to be taking your hand off the right handlebar to reach the gearshift lever (see wood knob next to the BMW logo).  On the other hand, I spent years riding a racing bicycle with dual derailleur shifters on the downtube without incident.

Here' a link if you'd like to hear and see an R32 (not this specific one) under operation, though not nearly at 60mph.



Photo Story: First Signs of Fall?

After a bit of dark and gloom and rain today, the sun came out in the late afternoon as I went out of the house and down the driveway to the mail box.  The sun had a really nice angle on these well-lichened maple trees in the wetlands beside our house, and it is the neutral colored bark of these trees that made this vine of Virginia Creeper stand out and catch my eye.  The leaves had recently turned a brilliant red, and they were on display in the afternoon sunlight.  As we know, it's all about the light.

I read on the Internet (so it must be true!) that Virginia Creeper is sometimes grown as an ornamental plant because the leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall.  I certainly agree with the red part of that statement.  But it's hard to think of actually planting this vine.  It's much less problematic for us than the Bittersweet vines which wrap around a trunk and eventually strangle a tree.

At least Virginia Creeper grows straight up the trunk.  However, it is all over the place.  The vines grow along the ground sending roots down into the soil, until the vine finds a tree to climb. According to the "Ohio Weedguide" put out online by The Ohio State University, each vine can grow 20 feet per year. No wonder I keep pulling it out of the garden.

Panasonic GX80/85 plus Panasonic 100-300mm @ 300mm
1/640, F5.6, ISO200


A Few Triumph (Motorcycles) Colors

Larz Anderson Auto Museum.  European Motorcycles lawn event
spread far to the right and out of the view of my camera.

I photographed the collection of Triumph gas tanks below at "European Motorcycle" day (September 2017) at Larz Anderson Auto Museum: