What does one need to do to get the perfect close-up of a wild
flower? Set up a tripod, clip on camera, then snap, snap it's in
the bag, camera, chip.. whatever? Maybe... but consider a few unexpected
impediments first. Finding the perfect clump of subjects (mostly
the easy part), stopping suddenly or rather screeching to a halt
(sometimes interesting along a busy highway)...parking and gathering
up the necessary gear (easy) - then my least favourite part, lugging
everything over hill and dale. Tripod, camera bag with several
lenses which never seem to get any lighter and then fun, fun, fun...It
seems, seemed a short distance across three fences to where the
wild, gorgeous yellow number (nothing exotic - a simple daisy but
a beauty!), nods in the gentle breeze..but...
Have you ever tried to climb over a fence with tripod in hand
and weighty camera bag over shoulder? "Just pass them through
the fence and follow", you say! In theory perfect but as
is often the case when I'm out ready to shoot I have tripod ready,
camera clipped in, slung over right shoulder legs extended, spread
ready to go (the fact that I look like a giraffe with ungainly
neck protrusions goes unnoticed) and my camera bag is old, slightly
smelly and large!. So, how do I climb through the first fence,
let alone the second or third in pursuit of the perfect daisy
without a lot of folding of legs pushing and shoving, and unclipping
of my precious digital genius first? Simple answer - I don't,
I try to get through regardless. Result? The air rapidly turns
blue around my head and expletives neither original nor inventive
start erupting unbidden from my person. And then the final indignity
as at least one part of my favourite jumper gets snagged by an
ever vigilant barb! My alternative solutions: throw the gear
over and hope for the best, find a gate (how many miles to the
nearest?), or simply leave it all in the SUV...barring the digital
genius and one's favourite 1:1 lens of course!
My final decision? Leave tripod and bag in the SUV, take the
necessary, and hope that the ravages of the previous night haven't
wrought havoc with traditionally rock steady hands. So then leaping
like a gazelle over fences one, two and three, I stride toward
the perfect clump of yellow. It's late in the season, so all
the white daisies are pretty much done - rich, golden yellow
Selecting the perfect specimen is next. I need to decide what
I'm trying to say in the pic. Perfection with clarity - nature's
form, sublime in its attention to detail or organic soft colour
merging into more colour with shadowy bits - a bit of both perhaps.
The magic of digital, the freedom of digital - the ability to
try everything because one can! I love it. It's a revelation,
a deepening of the creative urge to explore new realms without
cost ...or end sometimes.
Sure, one can always argue that it leads to lack of direction,
lack of planning but one can also argue in return that it extends
one's vision, increases one's output and ability to see the world
from different perspectives. I relish the challenge!
Back to the world of yellow! Perfection...mmmm. Unable to settle
on which of the perfect choices is THE perfect choice I decide
to shoot anyway, putting pen to paper or rather index finger
to shutter button in order to get the creative juices flowing.
As always seems to happen, I relax into it and my mind opens
up to the possibilities: depth of field, front edge of a petal
in focus back edge out and vice versa but mostly my mind is consumed
by warm yellow. Kneeling on the ground head down intensely focused
- the butt in the air angle would not be an attractive sight
for any passing observer but I don't need to worry about such
considerations as this mild obsession most often leads to splendid
A bit of advice - bracket everything (1 either side in ½ stops
or thirds if you have the choice), shoot at the highest resolution
you can achieve with whichever model of digital genius you possess
and take at least half a dozen shots per chosen angle. Give yourself
the best chance of capturing the one you really wanted - the
perfect image, beautiful enough to grace your wall, a wall anywhere.
One feels such an idiot when one has to declare it didn't quite
happen because of trigger finger meanness! Digital genius is
defined by trigger finger generosity or put another way - repetition
is the basis of professionalism. Whatever it takes I say. Get
the shot! The satisfaction is immense.
More advice - check the first few images carefully on the preview
screen just to make sure everything is working as it should.
Don't end up taking twenty splendid black and white shots of
a gorgeous yellow daisy - do the greyscale thing in Photoshop!
Slow down, check the first few brackets. Check that the ISO is
set to 100 not to 1600 from last night's fun and that all the
exposure compensation overrides are back to normal (or leave
the settings at 1600 over by two if weird and whacky is what
you're after). Little things but in my twenty years as a photographer
these little things become mortifyingly large things if ignored!
So perfection captured, 0 and 1's secured in the land of Flash
wizardry it's back across the three fences leaping not quite
so enthusiastically now, the gazelle's knees are a little creaky
from kneeling on the damp ground - back to the ever patient,
ever reliable SUV. Gear stowed, key in the ignition, we're off
...A glow of anticipation washes over me!
But never forget the first things to do on your return? Download
and backup!!! Forget at your peril. DOWNLOAD AND BACKUP just
in case you didn't get it the first time.
Copyright 2005 Patrick Heathcock - See my flower pictures and
gorgeous yellow number at www.aflowergallery.com .