I love butterflies. I love watching them dance from petal to petal and their swirly flying pattern. A few weeks ago when I went to photograph the bunnies for Fox’s Farmstead I had a few minutes to enjoy the butterflies that were enjoying their flower garden.
Did you know that if the temperature dips below 55 degrees they are unable to fly? Ideally their body temperature needs to be about 85 degrees. They are so fascinating with their delicate and colorful wings. Have you ever noticed how amazingly thin their wings are? Butterflies in general have a very short lifespan, typically 2-4 weeks, except for the monarch butterfly. They can live to the ripe old age of 6 to 8 weeks. During their lifetime they can fly up to 2000 miles on those thin little wings to migrate to and from Mexico.
You know what else is fascinating about butterflies? The way they eat! Two new things I learned writing this blogpost: One, butterflies have taste receptors on their feet with tiny spines that detect the right match of plant chemicals so they know that particular plant is food. Isn’t that cool? The second thing I learned is that what I always thought of as their tongue, that long straw like tube they use to drink nectar, is called a proboscis and is actually located under their chin.
Oh, I have to make it three things I learned about butterflies that I didn’t know before this post! Apparently they are nearsighted. How scientist have figured this out I’ve no idea but that’s what they say. Butterflies also see a range of ultraviolet colors that are not visible to the human eye. It is also believed that they themselves have ultraviolet markings on their wings that help them identify each other.
I can get excited when shooting pictures when I know things are coming together with the subject and lighting and compositionally. This day was practically perfect and it seemed as if the little guys were even posing for me. Even going so far as to share a meal together so that I could get a picture.
Next year I hope to plant a variety of flowers in our own garden to attract butterflies. These beautiful little creatures make it hard to be anything but happy when they’re around, don’t you think?
I will be making an album on my Facebook page of more pictures I took this day and I hope you pop over to check them out. I will also be making prints and cards available so if you see one that you like in particular let me know!
Butterflies…flowers that fly and all but sing. ~ Robert Frost
“Poetry is a fresh morning spider-web telling a story of moonlit hours of weaving and waiting during a night.” ~Carl Sandburg
“A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.” ~ Charles Ghinga
I recently came across this meme and it made me laugh a little bit, “The next time someone looks at your work and says “Wow, you must have a nice camera!” Reply by saying, “Yes…and Van Gogh must have had one heck of a paint brush.”
There is a bit of a misconception that what really makes a photographer good is the equipment they use. I have heard the above scenario also in relation to cooking…”Wonderful dinner! You must have an amazing stove” Or, “I just finished Dandelion Wine…Ray Bradbury must have had a fantastic typewriter!” All said tongue in cheek but making the point that as Ansel Adams said, “You don’t take a photograph. You make it.”
A lot of things go into creating a good photograph and not all of it happens inside the camera or is based on the eye of the photographer. Those are just tools but not even the only tools. Obviously, the better the tool in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing is significant but I have seen people do some crazy photography with a simple set up. Another tool is what can happen after the click of the camera. I have a very minimalist approach to post processing but I do some stuff to my images. Sometimes it is as simple as straightening the horizon or smoothing out a blemish, etc. but there is power in the effect of post processing and I thought I would share a little bit of how it can change the look of an image.
First, let me show you an image sooc…that is photographer lingo for straight out of camera. I cut my picture taking teeth on photographing flowers and it is still a favorite thing for me to photograph. The only thing that has happened up to this point with these carnations is that I have uploaded the image from the camera to my computer.
With this image the first thing I am going to do is get rid of the distracting corners in the frame. I want the flowers to get all of the attention but our eyes automatically seek out light areas so they have to go. I wanted to keep as much space around the flowers though so I can only do a slight crop.
You can still see those pesky corners and that means I need to clone them out. Cloning is simply a tool that allows me to copy one area within the image and basically paste it over what I want to hide. I have a very basic skill level when it comes to cloning but I know people who are amazing at it. (My friend Carmen once cloned out some mamas who were holding onto their children in a picture we took and it made it look like these three little fat babies were just hanging out in a tree all on their own. Man, did we get some flack despite saying up front that at no time were the babies just sitting on their own. She’s really good.*) But back to my limited ability…I cloned out the corners and upped the contrast and exposure just a tad. Overall I am pleased with the look from just these basic edits.
But here is where the magic really happens. There are all kinds of effects and tricks you can do to an image that can give it a totally different vibe. Here I have brightened and lightened the whole image by adjusting my levels and playing with curves. Quite a difference, isn’t it?
Really you can just play with light and shadows, the warmth or coolness of the color and make some minor adjustments and you get a seemingly completely different image. Remember these images are the exact same at their base but notice how the one on the left looks as if the flowers are bigger and closer somehow. The one on the right has a flatter subdued matte finish.
This time I lightened the whole image but also added a film grain that softens the overall look. I also pushed the reds up slightly on the wooden table.
I love black and white images and find them to be more emotional, even with inanimate objects, than their sister color version. This particular kind of black and white is an old school Hollywood style that has some silver and green undertones. Not every image holds up well to it but man, I loved how it looked on these flowers.
You may not have noticed that green tone until you saw these two but it is unmistakable up against traditional black and whites. The image on the left has more of a slight purple undertone and is lighter overall. The image on the right is more dramatic with darkers shadows.
So one image edited eight different ways. The really cool thing is that as a photographer I have crafted something that will ideally appeal to a broad range of people who have different tastes and preferences.
Light and airy. Dark and moody. Romantic. Dramatic. These are some different buzz words used to try and define a particular style of a photographer. And it can be helpful and really important to like the style used if you are trying to choose someone to do portraits.
I don’t know how I would describe my style exactly. I like bright and clean images but sometimes find that a little more shadowing and darker tones might suit a particular image better. I like for skin to look real and eyes to be normal. I don’t like using overlays on my images. I want consistency and I want my clients to see their portraits and see the love and connection between the people in them. I want to draw out personality and to communicate character. I want to tell the story that is unfolding in your life at that moment and if that is a toddler who won’t look at the camera so be it. I want to capture the interesting and ordinary beauty that we live with everyday and sometimes overlook.
So, which edit do you prefer on our lovely carnations? I will happily gift a 5×7 print to a randomly chosen commenter.
*One of the mamas still had a copy of the babies hanging out in the tree…isn’t it hilarious?
Back in March I had a macro lens for a few days and enjoyed looking at a rose from various angles. I loved the fact that the edges had already started to wilt a little. I feel like it gives some character to the flower in much the way wrinkles can make for a more interesting face.
Truthfully, roses are not one of my favorite flowers. Not for any particular reason and even as I write this I look around and notice two vases in my house full of little miniature breeds. They have their own sort of loveliness though and yellow roses always make me think of my grandmother.
What about you? Are roses a particular favorite or some other flower?