Water Lily. Nikon D200. Micro Nikkor 105 mm. ISO 200. 1/125 sec at f/16. August 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.
Water Lily. I particularly like the way the flower is reflected in the water in this image. Shot in the Hammond Museum Japanese Garden in South Salem, New York.
Pine Cone (Larch). Nikon D200. MicroNikkor 105 mm. ISO 720. 1/60 sec at f/13.0. August 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.
The larch is a deciduous conifer in the pine family. Larches are very attractive trees. The composition in this image – with so many lines going in different directions, straight and curved, and segmenting the space in unusual ways – is just weird. I don’t know if it “works.” It’s certainly unconventional. But I like the effect. In spite of the active background, the cone stands out.
Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. 1/160 sec at f/8.0. June 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.
The image is from the recent Rhododendron series. I’ve worked on this one quite a lot to get what I’ve envisioned in black-and-white (ethereal, almost ghostly, a softly sensuous look). Processed using both Nik Color Efex and Nik Silver Efex. Click image for larger.
Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. 1/500 sec at f/3.0. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.
This is different. The black-and-white image creates a completely different “look” to the flower. This particular one seems to come across with less of a sense of life and vitality. It’s more melancholy, almost desolate, by comparison. Processing included some color filters and adjustments to exposure and contrast.
Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. /250 sec at f/4.8. Single-image HDR. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.
Unlike the previous image, created by merging three images with varying exposures, this is a single-image HDR. The HDR process consists of two broad steps: merging multiple images, and tone-mapping the resulting single image. (Tone-mapping, literally, in essence, maps the existing tones in the image to a broader range [i.e. dynamic range] of tones, thus enhancing the picture.) The overall aim of postprocessing this image has been to bring out the rich pink of the folded flowers not yet opened, while retaining the white in the flowers that have opened. Other choices included cropping to a square format, which emphasizes the single flower cluster against the background.
Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. HDR created from 3 images at f/11. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.
Continuing to work with these rhododendrons on different approaches to making the images, this is an HDR image, created by blending three images of varying exposures, one on target, one underexposed, one overexposed. (Software is HDR Efex Pro 2.) HDR is easily overdone. All too often, HDR methods produce images that are garish and have no resemblance to reality at all. HDR can be especially problematic with nature scenes. But I definitely believe that HDR has a significant role to play. At essence, HDR intensifies and expands the light. In this image, this intense light originates within the very depths of the flower and radiates outwards. The flower itself appears both very delicate and robust. Viewing the original flower, we are overwhelmed by the strong backlighting, the flower appearing bland and wan, and even an exposure adjustment does not suffice. The HDR processing brings out the light, resulting in a vibrancy not “seen” originally. (This image is best viewed in large size; click image above for larger view.)
Rhododendron. Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 200. 1/250 sec at f/4.8. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.
This series of rhododendron images presents the opportunity to work with different ideas of composition and framing and to play with varied approaches to postprocessing. I like to think that it is possible in manipulating an image to reveal or bring out layers of an inner reality that we do not normally “see.” For that matter, what is it to “see” an object? Do the momentary glimpses we get of things when looking around at many thinks constitute “seeing”? Or even to look closely at a thing and study it? The photographic capture both preserves the thing as a permanent image and subjects it to the whims of our visual manipulation, which we can do digitally, revealing elements of unnoticed elements of tone, structure, color, relationship, abstraction? To see, we must be able to observe that which is unseen.
We’ll wrap up the week with a minigallery of rhododendra. Click each image for a larger view. Technical: All Nikon D200. Nikkor 105 mm Macro. ISO 200, varying exposures. May 2014. Copyright Joanne Mason 2014.