Last weekend, I had the delightful occasion to hear David Perry speak at Molbak’s Nursery, on the topic of telling better stories with your camera. He eloquently described how to bring your pictures alive, using the language of poetry, to illustrate emotions and sensations. Being a techy-geek, I tend to illustrate botany facts like erect stamens and gleaming pistils or plant oddities. It was nice to be reminded to feel as well as think, to hear and tell stories, to be the shaman and not always the professor.
I won’t duplicate his talk … it’s for you to attend one of his workshops or lectures (see him at the NW Flower and Garden show this week). We then enjoyed an hour (or in my case, two) at Molbak’s to explore and practice what we just learned. First, I went through the greenhouse with my little Canon G10. It’s my go-to camera (or really, my go-with camera since it’s light enough to carry with me all the time.) Then I went through a second time with a borrowed Nikon D300S. And I got schooled.
First, let’s talk about composition. Trained by a master photographer (my mom, Lynne Harrison), I try to compose the image in the frame. I don’t rely on photo-editing software, and rarely crop. But, I can’t get as close with the Nikon, and I forgot about that when I photographed this Hydrangea blossom against a blue pot. The effect I was trying to capture was just the blossom and its reflection. A few steps to my left and the blossom would have been isolated.
My Canon G10 has a pretty decent macro lens, and I take a lot of closeups with it. Even with the Canon, I screwed up with the first shot (it’s out of focus a bit), and although the second shot is more detailed, it has too much background. [As always, click to enlarge.]
Now let’s talk about color. I have to learn how to calibrate the Nikon. The photo on the left was taken with my Canon, and is true to what my eye saw that day. The photo on the right taken with the Nikon, shows a horrible pink-shift.
Photo editing makes me break out in hives. On the left is the original ghastly red-shifted image I took with the Nikon. Then I imported it into Aperture (an inferior product to Lightroom, due to file naming and storage) and held my breath as I fidgeted and fiddled with all sorts of hue and saturation sliders to try to match the color of my memory. Now try to do that with lots of images, and deal with storing and backing up and naming the original file and the edited file. Makes you break out in a sweat, eh?
Now go back and look at the last two sets of images again. I’ll wait.
Do you trust what you see? Did the photographer correctly capture the flower color? Was their equipment true to life? Did they do any photo manipulation? Does your browser handle the image? Does your computer monitor accurately display the color?
With that, I’ll leave you with one final image. Peace.