Flowers

It's technically spring and even though most of us are stuck indoors, I can't help but think about being outside. One good thing about being stuck inside is that it has given me time to pour over my backlog of photos. When I think about spring one of the first things that comes to mind is flowers. They represent to me everything that is wonderful about the transition out of the dark gloomy days of winter and into the bright sunny days of spring. Thus I have somehow inspired myself to take you all on a journey through my many and various attempts to capture the elusive beast known as flower. Think of today as a journey through time as I have honed my skill and let's see if I have gotten any better.


Now I would never go around telling anyone that I'm a flower photographer because I'm not. Typically, my subjects are a bit larger in scale and if there are flowers in the frame you probably have to strain your eyes to find them. But that doesn't mean that I haven't tried my hand. The challenge of shooting something so small and so delicate, capturing something of their ephemeral nature, is always flaunting itself, tempting me to give it a shot (pun only sorta kinda intended).


We will start our little sojourn with one of my earliest attempts. I was on spring break road tripping along the California coast when we stopped on the side of the road for some reason or another in a little town called Monterey (little did I know that 10 years later I would end up living there!). I hopped out of the car and spotted this gigantic flower and was immediately drawn to it.


Calla Lily taken outside of Monterey

I was young in my craft and I was still in the phase where I was so enamoured by the subject of the photo that I didn't necessarily consider the other aspects that make a photograph great. I'm not sure that I was thinking about lighting, composition, or color. I saw something that was beautiful so I took a photograph of it. This doesn't mean that I don't like the shot, in fact it literally hangs in my bedroom as one of the first photographs I ever printed for myself. I guess this shot symbolizes a couple of things for me; first is that you don't always have to overthink a shot to get a great photograph, sometimes they just happen naturally, second is that when you do put some thought into your shots you may surprise even yourself.


These next three images are all from my early "wow that is a pretty flower" phase. I find them all to be striking subjects with things that I might change if I had a second chance. In the first the lighting is very harsh and the center of the flower is in the center of the frame (is that bad?). But the background is simple and the flower can speak for itself. In the second, the background is maybe a little distracting and what is going on with that leaf obscuring the top flower, why didn't I just take a step to my left? The third photo has a striking subject by maybe I could have done something with the light and composed this shot a little more effectively. These are all learning experiences!


A pink orchid taken at the Denver Zoo

A pair of purple orchids taken in El Valle, Panama

Birds of Paradise taken in El Valle, Panama

The best thing about learning experiences is that they teach you things if you pay attention. And one of the amazing things about photography is that sometimes you can learn on the fly. This next series of shots were all taken on the same day as two of the photos above. The thing that jumps out to me when I compare them is that in all of these the subject is still striking, but there was obviously some thought that went into the lighting and composition. The depth of field is set correctly so that the background gives context but doesn't distract. The light is even across the images, no harsh highlights and no dark shadows (except for dramatic effect). I did all of this while also trying to be a little creative.


Green-blue bees pollinating an orchid in El Valle, Panama