Introspectives #11

At the end of the ‘get to know your DSLR’ course the tutor suggested I aim for greater clarity and use the tripod more often. Thus on yet another washed-out-sky day I turned my focus inward, and on to portraiture of two stems of white orchids. Between fading-fast and on-the-turn, their exquisite sculpted forms still made engaging subjects.

Using daylight from the window as back illumination:-

very ordinary  but pushing the close-up focus on the 14-140mm lens
very ordinary shot but pushing the boundaries of close-up focus on the 14-140mm lens

I moved the orchids further into the room, illuminated by a side light and altered the white balance for different effects:

blue wavelengths (higher Kelvin) to blend blooms with the container
lowering the kelvin for a warmer colour cast that unites the backs of the orchids with the top of the container
white tones bring out the purity of the blooms even as they age and wither

And then without the distraction of colour, I focused on light and shade

overexposure with ISO too high but it complements the ethereal quality of the blooms
more balanced exposure but a flat image (and again there is burn on the lower left from the sidelight)
Using the flash as additional light, surprised me with the detail that emerged and obvious depth of shadows

But one has to be careful about not giving too much detail especially in portraits of older subjects so here I blocked some of the flash with my hand:

“you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. ” James 4:14

Instead of rushing around clicking with my camera, I learnt to sit as still as the portrait subjects, and after many shots and experimentation learnt a great deal more about photography.

This series is thinking out loud as I aim to improve and learn more of photography. The images are not necessarily for show – please feel free to add feedback.


8 thoughts on “Introspectives #11

  1. I don’t use a tripod but I don’t have a DSLR either. I have thought about a tripod. Maybe this year. I do like the color and light of the first picture the best. I like how the colors of the vase bring out the white more and especially against the darker background. Black and white can be tricky but I especially love to play with it when the blooms are white. The center picture with the more balanced exposure definitely made those white blossoms pop even against the light background.

    I like this series and how you reflect. I hope to do more of that on my blog again….maybe just in time for another potpourri next month. You have inspired me!

  2. thank you for the great feedback Donna – I have not been out with the tripod as feels too showy for my current skill level! This series is similar to gardening meme: ‘end of month view’ 🙂

  3. Interesting, Laura! One of my most important tripod lessons, on a course last Feb, was changing the f-stop : exposure ratio to change the depth of field. That is a worthwhile game and ideal for flowers with ‘depth’ like your orchids. You can see my post on it at

    I love the ‘masked flash’ photo and the way it highlights both composition and the shape of a single flower. Might be tricksy, but the results are wonderful!

    My only criticism of your experiment is that white-on-white makes the exercise more challenging than needed – a pale pastel background might have been more helpful.

    It was interesting to follow your thought process!

    1. good point Jack – had paid too little attention to the background 😮 re-read your tripod post for some interesting pointers. Have a go at obscuring flashlight in various degrees – took a few shots to get that last one right

  4. In # 1 I like the illumination of the side light, in # 4 I like the overall lighting, and I like the first and last b/w ones!
    In the first two years of owning a DSLR I never used a tripod. Nowadays I almost always use it, especially at home (come to think of it, I have never taken it outside) but sometimes feel I rely on it too much. I wonder how I managed without a tripod these first years….

  5. appreciate your comments Kiki and especially that you liked the overexposed b&w shot – goes to show that being exact is not always correct as can lose the art. My slight tremor means I have camera shake so tripod is best for me + touch screen instead of the button depress – though could also set delay to shot after depression. And have just discovered the lens has a Power Optical Image Stabiliser activated via a switch on the lens barrel. 😕 Wondered if this is how you managed before the use of tripod but it shows in the great clarity of your shots.

Comments are closed.