Signs of Life

Signs of Life

Originally I had not planned on posting this photo, but the idea came to me while recording the audio for last week’s image because I realized it functioned as a sort of companion to the Yucca Tails. It is similar in composition with the focal point being on the right-hand side, which then serves to draw the viewer’s eye back into the rest of the picture to see what else is present. In this case it’s a clump of purple…um…somethings (seeds? berries? I honestly don’t know, even though this is a tree in my very own backyard) instead of the branches of a yucca plant, but overall the sentiment is quite similar. It also has echoes of a photo I posted several months ago called “After the Rain,” and in fact I used some of the techniques I learned when shooting that as I captured this image. Perhaps it’s an unconscious stylistic choice, but I rather like this type of composition, even if some people might call it derivative.

The reason I decided to post it here is to function as somewhat of a cautionary tale regarding shallow depth of field. Since the sky on this breezy day was quite overcast and I was using my D200 at ISO 200 (I suppose in retrospect I could have just bumped it up to 400) I needed to let in as much light as possible in order to freeze the purple berry-thing in front. That meant using f/1.8, which I don’t often do because, well, as you can see the depth of field is, in my opinion, a bit too much. The bokeh almost distracts from the subject, and it borders on overpowering–particularly the green leaves just above and to the right of the deep violet subject. F/1.8 is great to have when you really need it, but in this case I think I should have just found a way to get the shot with a little less DOF. Still, I’m happy with the image overall and I think it’s high time I figured out just what this tree/plant/bush/whatever actually is that’s been behind our house ever since we bought the place :)


  1. Seeds? Berries? Or coffee beans? Did you know that it was dancing goats which first inspired some poor Arabian goat herder to try coffee beans? Yep, his goats ate some of those beans and before long they went into hyper-mode and began dancing all over the mountain top. The goat herder was so impressed, he tried a few beans himself, and that is how coffee was first made! Sorry, I got off on such a tangent but that is what your little berries brought to mind, Simon.

    • Dancing goats? Seriously? Tom, you are so full of stories and odd bits of knowledge you probably have enough to last two lifetimes :)

      • Next time you drink a coffee, just picture those dancing goats and thank them for discovering the coffee bean!

        • Next time I drink a coffee? Hmm…that could be a while. Got any idea where Mt. Dew comes from? :)

          • Yep, hillbilly goats have been known to guzzle moonshine and sweet water. The combination of the two inside a goat’s belly results in the mixture known as Mountain Dew. The first hillbilly woman to discover it, was milking her goat one day when she discovered what she mistakenly thought was urine in her bucket. Her husband came home drunk that night and mighty thirsty as he could be, ended up drinking the entire bucket of the sweet concoction. Rumors are he belched, hiccuped and belched again before saying, “Bless my soles, and bless my shoes, I just discovered Mountain Dew!”

            You had to ask, didn’t you?

  2. Phil Ringsmuth says

    Regarding the blur discussion, it seems your photographers were so concerned with whether or not they should they didn’t stop to think if they should!

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