Total Tech Trouble…

Yesterday was a tad challenging! After a 3 hr photo shoot in my newly set up downstairs studio, I put the sd card on mouse pad by the desktop before going to the gym to stretch.

It disappeared (gone), looked for an hour…this is a first…have to go back and redo the shoot…at first, frantic, then frustrated …went to sleep early…woke up resigned and determined…chalk it up to a new desktop workflow!!!
Yesterday, also decided to enter a photography competition sponsored by PDNedu (our lab at SCSU had a pile of the mags last semester, – Nikon sponsors this and it feels appropriate.  Amusingly, the write up of a student who qualifies for a Senior Citizen Discount, also may make a nice story.
Am so glad the studio is set up. Years ago, I had one in the  back of the store, Buds & Blossoms, (the paper rolled down over the books section)…it was functional and looked artsy. To the side, there was a beautiful long oval antique coffee table and a day bed with Laura Ashley material. The wallpaper matched. The sign outside was hand painted  by a phenomenal sign painter. All kinds of fine art flower books spread out, nothing commercial…even the original Martha Stewart Wedding book.
Unfortunately though, could never use the photo studio (no time after the arrangement was done and  had to be out the door).  I had  hired the then head of photography at  NYBG, Alan Rokach, to give me private lessons. At the time, I was obsessed with the challenge of photographing all white flowers and containers. We had to use hot blue bulbs to balance off  the color positive film. For someone who has straddled the digital divide, am really glad to be on this side:)…hence all the links to resources:) And, to continuing obsessions:
nextSteps
Yesterday, I found the original Ronaldo Maia Decorating With Flowers books from a back basement  room.  Inside there were few torn pages from a NYT 1999 article about a famous fashion photographer, David Seidner, who  went to Miami to photograph orchids. At the end of his very brief life, he did a beautiful very soft focus orchid series. He collaborated with Robert Fuchs who is legendary in the “orchid world.” When I first saw the soft focus series, it made much less visual and aesthetic sense to me. At the time, I was obsessed with the botanical work of Mapplethorpe. What was stored, though, was a very strong sense of fascination with the subject. Finding this article was a moment of joy!
From my current experience which is informed by many years of additional study and work, while all orchids present perfectly for literal photography, some also present as magnificently for a more abstract vision. Both approaches present new challenges.
So as 2020 arrives, here’s hoping for  smooth, botanically inspired sailing. And knowing that there will always be unfulfilled challenges.

adding light…awesome

The macro R1C1 flash set up, part of the Nikon Creative Lighting System, provides the perfect portable solution to make detailed macro photos shine. This macro lighting unit is a great tool for precise food & botanical photography. The twin flash heads dramatically light culinary ingredients and complex floral details.

As a professional photographer, one must be very concerned about light. The variable are numerous and complex. It’s wonderful to be able to develop a “lighting style” that is appealing and recognizable.

I prefer photos to be in sharp focus which requires a small f stop – f11 or higher. This small opening, combined with the length of the lens and subject to camera distance dramatically reduces the available light so it makes sense for me to add light – not bump up the iso too high. These strobes are great – literally small light boxes, attached to a ring which sits at the end of the lens. The lighting style is very contoured.  A wireless transmitter allows me to adjust the individual output.

4803_R1C1-Wireless-Close-Up-Speedlight-System_frontSome more info about the unit from the Nikon site:

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/nikon-products/product/flashes/r1c1-wireless-close-up-speedlight-system.html

People are typically curious abut this unit which adds a bit of substance to my camera’s footprint. I really enjoy taking the time to explain how this system works!!! From what I understand, the unit was originally developed for dental photography. I always shoot with my 105mm Nikon micro. If, for example, I am using the 85mm Nikon portrait lens, the R1C1 does not provide enough light. We are talking close.

Currently there is a Chihuly exhibit at the New York Botanical Gardens. Most of the photos I’ve noticed on NYBG’s FLICKR Group provide a broader point of view.  The photos above are fragraments of a blade of green glass from the Chihuly show.

A while back  I read a very interesting blog post from the New York Botanical Gardens. The author talked about a moss/fern spore that was used to make flash powder for view cameras in “the days of old.” Such an amazing connection between plants and photography.

And to see more of our work, visit: www.awesomephotos.co

 

Photography has more than 2 P’s

Right off the top of my head: preference, point of view, pose, practice, process and purpose. Surely one can think of many more.

Podium

This photo was shortlisted at IGPOTY Macro – total thrill!!!!

Let’s consider this quote which coincidentally involves more photography p’s “practice” and “perfect”:

“ Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

If you are reading this, you will probably be glad to know that “10,000 photographs” represents just the start for me…I probably passed that milestone years ago and now continue to output this quantity every few months between personal and professional projects.

Looking at my first roll of developed negatives in my “bathroom” darkroom nearly 40 years ago, one could say I was “hooked”…today, “immersed” is more accurate.   Before one presses the shutter, a tremendous amount of thought and planning typically goes into “making the photo” as opposed to “taking the photo.” I’ve enjoyed every step of this learning journey. Some professors said very kind things while others offered constructive criticism which often contributed to more rapid improvement.

jaws

So, frequently, I will revisit  a theme or object many times and definitely see an improvement. My floral botanicals today are composed, lit and focused better than they were let’s say ten years ago. And, once you know the subject, it is easier to show the qualities which make it unique. The passion flower, below, never ceases to attract and challenge me because although it appears to be a fairly uniform,  complex yet distinct  and colorful flower, the depth of the blossom presents numerous photographic challenges particularly when shooting macro with limited depth of field.

bluePassion

And, if you want to see more of our work: www.awesomephotos.co