Category Archives: Still Life

Photographer’s Choice – Karin Kalmus

Common House Plant That Rarely Blooms

Karin Kalmus - Blooming Jade Plant

Karin Kalmus – Blooming Jade Plant

Karin has submitted this photo as a “Photographer’s Choice”, noting particularly, “The carpels and stamens are absolutely clear. A botanist friend at ECU was amazed to see this photo of a blooming Jade and noted how sharp the detail was. These Jade plants rarely bloom but one of mine has bloomed from December to February every year since we brought it back from California (>20 years old). It never bloomed in California.” Karin used a tripod to obtain the clarity from her Nikon Coolpix S8100, using soft, natural light to bring out the detail without any harsh shadows or blown highlights. The framing, with the blooms off center, adds to the appeal. The rich, deep green background makes the blossoms truly pop.
This image can be used also to point out the importance of post processing and the improvements possible. The image below is as it came from the camera, somewhat flat, slightly underexposed, but more importantly, with a strong blue/green color cast. It only required a couple of adjustments to bring out the full potential of the image.
Karin Kalmus - Unadjusted jpeg

Karin Kalmus – Unadjusted jpeg

Photographer’s Choice – Phyllis Baynes

What Makes This Image Special?

Phyllis Baynes - Mammoth Rose Peony

Phyllis Baynes – Mammoth Rose Peony

A flower garden in full bloom is an irresistible target for most photographers with the vibrant colors and easy access usually only a few steps away from the front door. The challenge is to capture something that makes your photo unique and stand out from the other millions taken every year. Not an easy feat to accomplish.
Phyllis had just purchased a new Pentax K-5 16.3 megapixel camera and was anxious to put it through its paces. Her mother’s garden in Warrensville provided that opportunity. The above is the result. Does it pass the test of being “outstanding” compared to the usual? If so, what are the elements that make it so? The light is soft, with no harsh shadows or bright, washed out highlights. The saturation of the color is vibrant but natural without passing into that area where it looks forced. The use of an aperture of f/2.8 in combination with a focal length of 135mm provided a narrow depth of field for a soft transition from the sharp focus area to the background. And yes, the background, or “bokeh”, is perfect-dark and soft with nothing to detract from the main subject and yet it complements the vivid color of the peony. The hint of pink in the upper left corner and the soft green foliage appear natural and pleasing to the eye. As usual when all things come together like this, perhaps a little luck comes into play as the horizontal light green foliage provides a base to support the blossom. At least to this viewer’s eye, this image passes the test of being “outstanding”.