The Early Flower

The Early Flower

Taking this picture was kind of fun because I’ve realized that I don’t really take a lot like this anymore, which is kind of a shame. In truth I rather enjoy taking photos of flowers, but lately I’ve been mostly doing it with a close-up filter and thus missing out on some of the context and fun lighting that can come into play when composing a more normal view of something like this. As often happens with my Weekly Fifty photos I shot this early in the morning on my way to work, and with the sun just peeking over the horizon it meant a nice even diffused light covering the whole campus while also catching things at a time when the street lights were still glowing. And that’s where the fun part of this photo really came into play.

One thing I’ve learned when it comes to composing shots is that every element in the frame ought to be considered, from the foreground to the subject to the background and even other elements on the periphery that might not appear to matter. In this case there’s not much in the way of foreground elements, but I as I knelt down to take this picture I wanted to carefully pay attention to the background objects and compose my shot accordingly.

The subject is clearly the flower in front, but I also wanted to use another flower behind it as well as the triple-topped light post way in the distance as intentional elements of the shot. This required a bit of moving and maneuvering on my part while also taking my lens aperture into account. I shot a few images at f/2.8 and even a couple at f/4 but soon realized that while the subject was tack sharp in these, the background elements were not as blurred out as I wanted and thus the viewer’s eye was distracted and listless with no clear focal point. Thus I spun the dial on the front of my D750 clear to the left to get as wide of an aperture as possible, knowing full well that shooting at f/1.8 would mean an almost-too-shallow depth of field.

The results turned out pretty well, and though the yellow-orange petal closest to the viewer is a tad out of focus I’m glad that the rest of the flower is quite sharp. Ideally I think I would have physically separated the three elements of the shot (foreground flower, background flower, and light pole) with a bit more space instead of crowding things so close in the center of the frame, but overall I think the image is decent and a good reminder of why it’s fun to un-screw the close-up filters and just go take colorful pictures from a more normal point of view sometimes.


  1. Simon,

    Again, a nice shot and an informative explanation of your process. I think one of the exciting things about photography is that there are always opportunities to see things in a different. If I become bored as a photographer, it is because I am not looking at other possibilities; I am trying to do the same thing over and over again.

    • Thank you Dennis! I sometimes find myself getting bored and even complacent as a photographer too, and sometimes it’s those times in which I force myself to go outside and just shoot photos of something. Anything, really. Often the results are pretty mediocre, but every now and then they can lead to something quite surprising.

  2. This is a fun study of repetitive shapes and a good lesson in depth of field.
    It shows that the further the background is from the camera, the more blurry it is. The blob of lights, unrecognizable as a lamp post, is blurrier than the flower in the background – or is it middle ground. Pretty lighting, another lesson in knowing your light.

    • Rebecca, I always appreciate your academic approach to photography :) I don’t think I ever saw this as a study in repetitive shapes, but now that you mention it I can definitely see how that would apply and now you’ve given me something else to think about in future photographs too!

      • Rebecca Burlingham says

        Me, academic? I’m a Mom who loves photography. I enrich my skills by reading posts like yours.

  3. Lady Forest

    Kissed by the sun. Embraced by the morning,
    The Forest sheds her cloak of Night.
    She slips into a gown of mist,
    She wove herself, by Morning light.

    In Amber rays, the Forest dances,
    In hidden glens within the hills.
    Barefoot, she glides through open meadows,
    Tip-toes her way past silver rills.

    Her gown of mist, trails behind her,
    Fluttering in the morning wind,
    Adorned with gems and sparkling jewels.
    The rising sun, did surely send.

    © Copyright 2000 by Tom Frye

  4. Okay, in all honesty the image should probably be re-composed to eliminate the three white blurs in the background. They are the brightest objects in the image and actually create a distraction from what is probably the true subject. The flower shot against the green background would be a compelling image. Maybe shooting from a different angle or position would eliminate the distraction. Just a thought.

    • I really appreciate you saying that John, and I think it would be fun to go out and re-shoot this photo when that lamp post is not lit. I agree that the white blurs are a bit distracting since they do pull your attention away from the flower in the foreground, but overall I’m happy with the composition as it exists. I think they add a nice bit of layering to the image, though I do wish they were a little less stark. Thanks for being honest with your opinion :)

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