Lily Forest

Lily Forest

When I first got my close-up filters in the spring of 2016 I took photos like this all the time, eventually culminating in this one I posted here on the blog last July. It’s weird how I have this weird penchant for avoiding taking the types of photos that I simply enjoy taking, such as the one featured here this week. I like taking close-up photos of flowers, particularly lilies, because they’re filled with such rich and vibrant colors and striking details. The pattern usually goes like this:

  1. I get an idea for a certain photo, or type of photo, that I want to take
  2. I pursue that idea until I finally get the picture I was hoping for
  3. I abandon the idea and go try something else

That’s a terrible way to go about honing any skill!¬†Practice is the best way to improve yourself, and it makes no sense at all to stop just because you think you’ve learned something. Why not keep practicing and improving? I don’t know what my hangup is with this when it comes to photography, but it needs to stop. So to that end I went out armed with my D7100, 50mm lens, and +10 filter specifically to get a close-up picture of a lily and I’ve promised myself that I will continue to take these kinds of pictures until the weather turns sour later this year. I can’t continue to grow as a photographer if I’m not willing to keep experimenting, and just because I got a picture that I like doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to learn.

As for this photo, I tried to use some of the things I learned last year when I would go out and shoot similar pictures. I like the colors in the Earnest photo from last year but I prefer the composition of this one. (See? I’m learning…) I shot this at f/6.7 so I could get the subject sharp but still have a shallow depth of field, though to be honest I probably should have used f/8 since the anther in the foreground isn’t quite as sharp as I would have liked. I tried to pick just one of the anthers as the focal point and have the others in the background, which makes the shot more visually compelling than having several things all vying for the viewer’s attention. And even though is one is more uniform in terms of its overall color palette, I think it makes for a less confusing and more subdued shot overall.

The one thing I’m not too happy with in this picture is its overall sharpness, which is almost entirely due to the shallow depth of field. If you click on the image and zoom in to 100% you’ll notice that the anther in the foreground isn’t quite as sharp as it could be, but that’s mostly just photographic nitpicking on my part and probably not something most people would notice. So instead of missing the flower for the anthers, I’m just going to enjoy the picture for what it is and continue to go out and take similar shots and see what happens.


  1. You should enjoy this photo for what it is. But now that you know, go back out and do it again. Isn’t that what you are saying in this post?
    I know when I first bought my close up filters, I set my camera at the widest aperture thinking I needed it to make a dynamic photo. I have learned, through you, to raise my Fstop. Sometimes the slimmest razor edge of focus isn’t the best for your subject.

    • You got it right, Rebecca! I don’t think it hurts at all to go back and take similar photos, and in fact it can actually help quite a bit when it comes to improving your own photography. And believe me, I have been in the same situation as you with my close-up filters. I used to think that a +10 filter and f/1.8 aperture was the only way to go, but more often than not it resulted in a depth of field so thin you couldn’t even see what the photo was about!

  2. Janet Richardson says

    Ooooh boy. Guilty as charged. Pursue, pursue. Get “the one” and move on. No, you do not get better at photograpy with that approach. But it is the approach I have been taking. I blame it on adult ADD. (self-diagnosis). I get bored taking the same type of picture over and over again. But, you are right it really needs to stop. I need to develop a photography challenge for myself and just shoot one type of photo for a month. I think that might focus me. (Pun intended.) Thanks for the reminder.

    • I get bored just like you, Janet! I like your idea of setting a photography challenge for yourself and doing one type of photo for a month. I think that could really help me see things in a whole new light. Hmm…

  3. Kyla Smay says

    I haven’t commented for a while – just wanted to let you know I’m still enjoying your posts, photos and musings. Thank you for sharing.

    As a brand-new photographer learning about depth of field I started taking almost all my photos with as wide of aperture as I could, only to have my photos not turn out very well, depending on my subject. Time for more thoughtful approach vs one-size-fits-all. :-) Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    • No worries at all Kyla! We’ve all got things going on in our lives and I’m just glad you are finding time to get out and enjoy taking pictures :) And no, you’re definitely not the only one who struggles with taking a more thoughtful approach to photography. I’ve been doing this for years and I feel like there’s still so, so, so much I have left to learn…

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