Purple Sunrise

Purple Sunrise

This photo came about when we biked past a church near our house a few weeks ago and saw a field filled with henbit, a purple weed that is a scourge of lawns and country vistas in Oklahoma at this time of year. It’s all over the place down here, and while it’s mostly harmless it is kind of an annoyance for people like me who just want a nice green lawn :) Nevertheless, these weeds do have a certain grandeur about them, and as we rode past the church I knew I wanted to come back and get a picture. The shot I had in my mind was something along the lines of a single henbit blossom against a background of purple, but when I stopped at the church a few days later on my way to work I quickly realized why this sort of picture would not really be possible: there was just so much purple that it gave the viewer almost nothing on which to actually focus.

No big deal, I thought. I’ll just try some landscape shots instead. As you can probably imagine, these did not work out so well because a 50mm lens on a crop sensor is not exactly ideal for capturing outdoor scenery. It can certainly be done, but with the precious few minutes I had on this particular morning it just wasn’t going to happen.

So what to do? Thankfully there was a flowering tree on one side of the field that offered a solution, which resulted in the photo you see above. In this case the purple field serves almost as an accent, not the focal point, but it’s a stylistic tradeoff that I was happy to make. Anyone can take a picture of a white tree flower against a green landscape, but there’s only a few weeks out of the year that the background has such notable traces of purple. So that’s kind of cool :)

On a side note, I spent way too much time fiddling with this pic in Lightroom and I’m still not fully satisfied with the end result. It’s got a bit of a reddish color cast that I could get rid of if I brought it into Photoshop, but at some point you have to learn to balance your goals with the time you have to spend on them, and in this case I decided I could easily live with this photo rather then spending even more time tweaking it for what would probably be barely perceptible to me or anyone else. Sometimes your photos do need that much attention, but this was not one of those times.


  1. Simon —
    Enjoyed opening up my computer this morning and seeing your latest “Fifty”. Obviously you shot this with your aperture wide open which blurred out the background. You make the comment that you wish the purple had stood out more. What was your aperture setting and could you have narrowed it another stop or two and got the purple to be more enhanced? Thank you for taking the time to post this site and share your skill and knowledge.

    • Thank you, David! I shot this at f/2.8, and I think a slightly smaller aperture like f/4 might have helped the shot be a bit more effective. It would have also put more of the white flowers in focus, which would have made for a better overall photo (I like shallow depth of field as much as anyone else, but sometimes it can be too shallow for its own good.)

      I appreciate your comment, and thank *you* for taking the time to read these posts each week! :)

  2. Rebecca Burlingham says

    Nice photo. I take the red cast as the warmth of the morning or evening sun. So, shhhhh…

    As the new owner of a Nifty Fifty (also on a crop sensor), I am really enjoying your blog. The photos are great, but I am getting even more out of reading the thought that goes into each shot.

    Thank you

    • Congratulations Rebecca, and welcome to the Nifty Fifty club! I’m glad you like reading about the photos too, since that’s one of the most interesting aspects of photography for me as well. If you have any sort of online gallery with shots of your own, let me know. I’d love to see your pics too!

      • Rebecca Burlingham says

        I am just getting on Flickr. I am in process of transferring photos from my laptop and from Picasa. So, it is a bit unorganized. But I would love your feedback.

        My Flickr ID is rrburlingham

  3. Nice shot, Simon!

  4. I enjoy your post but wonder if you could supply more information such as aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc.

    Thanks & keep up the good work

    • Good idea, Jeff. If you click on the photo it will take you to my Flickr page which has a ton of EXIF data including aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and a whole lot more. Hope that helps, but if you want more just let me know :)

  5. So pretty!

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