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There is more to my Blog than “Flowery” Prose

Tulips Copyright 1996  Andy Richards

Copyright 1996 Andy Richards

O.k.  That was another one of those blatant, “gotcha” titles that has (almost) nothing to do with the subject.  Not much flowery prose here, but it is about flowers.

Flower Bed Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Flower Bed
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

In 1996, after a 14 year hiatus (life happened for a while), I rekindled my fascination with photography. By that time in life, I was considerably more affluent (which is still not saying much) than I was as a “poor college student.” With that “affluence,” I purchased a new Nikon N6006 SLR camera and a “kit” lens (I honestly don’t even remember what the lens was). I shortly began acquiring additional lenses and after some missteps, finally “sprung” for the top-end Nikkor 60mm “Micro” f2.8 lens. I thought it would be a good substitute for a “normal” 50mm lens. Ironically, I judge the lens to be just a little too sharp (I know – seems like a non-sensical observation for a photographer) for a general use lens.  But it made very nice closeup images.

Wildflowers Copyright 1996  Andy Richards

Copyright 1996 Andy Richards

Like many “neophyte” shooters, I quickly developed a fascination for close up images. In my case, flowers were easy picking (yes; pun intended 🙂 ). I spent many hours happily setting up and shooting close-up images over the next several years.

Have you seen the strange neighbor on his hands and knees in his yard with the camera?

I am pretty sure I totally embarrassed my wife with the neighbors, as I crawled around on the ground in my yard, with the camera mounted low on my tripod.  “Have you seen the strange neighbor on his hands and knees in his yard with the camera?”

Lavender Daylily Copyright 1998  Andy Richards

Lavender Daylily
Copyright 1998 Andy Richards

There is perhaps no better practice ground for learning about the nuances of photography: directional lighting, depth of field, sharpness, composition and color arrangement are all possible with this genre. In addition, it is a great teacher of the virtues of electronic flash. You also learn very quickly the requirement of a sturdy shooting platform (a tripod), the relationship between subject movement, shutter speed and—again—electronic flash.

Orange Day Lily Copyright 2013  Andy Richards

Orange Day Lily
Copyright 2013 Andy Richards

I have always loved color. What better place to find studies of color, from subtle to brilliant, than flowers? As my cataloging of images has gotten more detailed—particularly with the advent of Adobe Lightroom—I have begun to look at different categories of flowers, from different domestic varieties, to wildflowers. I’ll spend the next couple blogs posting some of my favorites.

White Daylily Copyright 2000  Andy Richards

White Daylily
Copyright 2000 Andy Richards

During the first several years from 1996, I amassed around 500 flower images. After a while, I felt that I had “been there, done that,” and moved on to other images. This was probably partly driven by my greater ability to travel to more “exotic” locations than my backyard. I have a very good friend and pro photographer who likes to quote another pro, saying that “in order to get good photos, you have to stand in front of good stuff.”

Purple Flower Copyright  1996  Andy Richards

Purple Flower
Copyright 1996 Andy Richards

More recently, as I have experimented with new lenses and cameras, I have found myself drawn back to the flowerbed as a testing ground.  As I selected images for the next several blogs, I was interesting and fun to go back to the “early” years and compare them to recent photographs.  I hope you’ll enjoy the next few posts.  I’ll be off in the Caribbean for the next couple weekends, so see you later this month.


2 Responses

  1. Hi Andy, as one of the “50” followers of your blog (as you referred too last week), I want you to know that,for one, I enjoy reading your blog each Sunday. Today’s rambling was especially interesting as I too, have developed an affinity towards flowers. I couldn’t compete with your shots, but then it’s not a competition, is it? The pictures you selected to include were great. I have yet to learn the use of a tripod. I know I should. The closest I am to that point is the use of a mono-pod when shooting HDR photos- which I’m trying to learn.
    We’re still in Florida (came down just prior to Christmas) and have dedicated a few days to photography but as you probably know, it’s been a cool winter- even down here. Hopefully I can improve on that activity level.
    Keep up the good work, Ralph

    • Hi Ralph. Great to hear from you! And, no, it’s definitely not a competition :-). I do my best to stear clear of those things. Neither one of us has to make their living with photography, and that is — I believe — a blessing. I have friends who do that, and they make images day and and day out that are “as good as it gets.” I don’t want to think about “competing” with them.

      As I said, I see it as a blessing. I am free to shoot when I want to and to follow whatever I fancy at the time. If you have read my blog from the early years, you will know that I preach use of a tripod — as a tool. There are certainly many times and places where you won’t shoot with a tripod for a myriad of reasons. But then there are times when there is almost no excuse not to use one (except, of course, an excuse 🙂 ). Tripods can help your “discpline” when shooting. Most of the flower images in today’s blog could not have been made successfully without the camera being mounted on a firm and independent support. The problem with a monopod is that it is still connected to your body and unless you are very good a remaining motionless, isn’t going to work in many instances. The only place I have successfully used a monopod was during sidelines sport shooting. A tripod, in addition to being a rigid, but versatile platform for shooting, can also slow you down and make you think more carefully about framing, composition, appropriate focal length, etc. Of course, if your subject doesn’t stay at least reasonably static for a time period, none of that will help. There is also a potential to let the tripod limit your creativity. I like to walk around with the camera and then move the tripod to the spot I like.

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