This shot surprised me.

I was headed back to my office after running an errand on campus and, as is often the case, I was carting my camera and close-up filters on the off-chance that something caught my eye and caused me to stop for a picture. And boy howdy, something sure did. This was taken on the magnolia tree mere inches from my office building, and as I stopped to look at the flowers I though of taking a top-down picture which was, frankly, unlike any other magnolia photo I had taken before. I thought it would merely be a fun experiment and very little would come of it, but as I was looking at the photos in Lightroom this one really stood out to me. It required very little in terms of editing and all I did to crop it was bring in the sides to make it a square image (which I rarely do, especially for my Weekly Fifty pics) and juuuuuust a tad bit on the top as well.

The result was an image that I was not at all expecting, and one that, if nothing else, is certainly unique as I scan through my Flickr page. I don’t normally shoot my subjects from directly above, and when I use my +4 close-up filter I don’t normally shoot at f/2.8…and yet here’s both of those. I also generally use more colors than this, but here you see very little in terms of variation and the entire image is really just white and yellow. Add to that the fact that it’s cropped to be square and…well, you see what I mean.

I’m honestly not sure what to make of this picture; I think I like it but I’m not really sure. So in the end I’m just going to say that it’s different, at least for me, and leave it at that.

Taking the photo only took about a minute and I had to hold my camera in my right hand while steadying the flower (which was just a few feet off the ground) with my left hand. I used the center focus point and shot about 12 pictures hoping one would be in focus, and used a couple different aperture settings in order to get a good combination of depth of field as well as overall sharpness. In the end it was this image, with mere millimeters of wiggle room in terms of DOF, that stood out to me the most. Most of the others from this series were either out of focus, off-center in terms of composition, or had bright sunlight poking through the white flower petals–all things that I was trying to avoid. It was fun to try something new and it gives me a few ideas to think about for future photos as well.


  1. I love this shot! It grabbed me from the instant I saw it, and for me, that makes it a great shot. I’m amazed that you got anything in focus using one hand to hold the flower and one to hold the camera.

  2. I really like the shot! It is an intimate portrait of the flower and its abstract nature add to the wonder of the image. The focus is right on.

    • Thank you Dennis! I appreciate you saying that about the focus, since it was probably the trickiest part about getting the picture. Depth of field is so small when doing close-up shots like this!

  3. Susan Ringsmuth says

    My immediate thought when I saw this picture was that it was a bunch of yellow worms.

  4. This image is stunning in it’s simplicity.

    There is a time and place to break the rule of thirds, and this is it. Aren’t you glad you experimented with apertures and focus until you found just the right combination?

    This is another lesson in slowing down and paying attention to your settings and the details.

    • You bet Rebecca, I sure am glad! It’s always fun to see what things you can come up with if you break the rules just a bit :)


    Hi Simon,
    I hv been following yr blog since i got to your dPS article on “tips to a successful photo blog”.
    To say the truth I initially wasn’t hooked by the “random” subjects you were shooting and posting on yr blog. But I need to reckon that, after nearly a couple of months, this is the one part I appreciate mostly now! Something like WHAT PRESENT SHALL I EXPECT IN MY MAIL BOX THIS WEDNESDAY?!? I may as well try second guessing what your next post will be about!
    Besides that, as you comment yr posts on yr shoots, I get to feel the awe every photographer goes through (or should go through) while shooting. I am a newbie in photography since April and now I can relate to what you see and feel when you are in this state. And I hv to say that the audio part channels the awe even better!
    I missed on some audios lately so I am trying to make up for that, this is why my comment is coming in on a previous post of yours.
    One question: in thithiyous post you mentioned you used a +4 filter to take this shoot, and not a macro lens, is it what you call an MACRO EXTENSION TUBE? My current and first DLSR camera is a previously owned Nikon D50 with lens kit f/3.5-5.6 18-55 mm. As a beginner I wanted to firstly get familiar with my kit lens (I am shooting a lot of “everything” at the moment) but was considering an extension tube to hv some “cheap” fun aside. So was this what you were using? I don’t feel ready yet to start with REAL lenses besides my kit. Thanks for yr reply.

  6. I loved be the simplicity of this shot and the colors are wonderful, this is really a beautiful shot.
    Thank you for the inspiration.

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