General Thoughts
Newborn Sunflower - Wake County, NC © jj raia

Newborn Sunflower – Wake County, NC © jj raia

I had heard that there was a large field of sunflowers in bloom a 45-minute drive away and decided to head down there to see if there were any photos I could take away before they began to get beyond their peak. I went with my son and I helped him set up his camera and then I began to look for a flower that was interesting and came across this young one that had not opened yet, but revealed a hint of the yellow petals that would soon emerge. It was really hot and humid and we both were sweating almost immediately and would end up, in the short time we were there completely drenched with sweat. I had thought to bring a piece of black foam core along to serve as a background and give the flower a studio look. The big problem however, was focus. I used an old manual focus 80-200mm lens and added a +2 close-up filter to shorten the minimum focus distance to get in really close since I don’t own a macro lens. But, just like a macro, the plane of focus is pretty thin with the close-up filter, so I boosted the ISO and shot at smaller apertures to keep as much in focus as I could (1/250-sec @ f/22 — ISO 800). The problem was a bit of a breeze that kept moving this flower and since I was holding the black background and tripping the shutter wirelessly, I couldn’t look through the lens at the same time to see when or if the flower was in focus as it moved slightly, even though I had focused on it before I moved over to hold the black background. I just crossed my fingers and tried twice. Luckily, one of the two  taken was pretty sharp, while the other was just too soft.

Sunflower and Bee - Wake County, NC © jj raia

Sunflower and Bee – Wake County, NC © jj raia

But it was then that my son had some problems. His 55-200mm lens came apart with one part falling onto the ground!! One of the internal sections just broke away from the rest of the lens and it was rendered useless. While he was getting another lens to continue, I took another shot of a fully bloomed flower with a rather large bee on it, much larger than any of the others that were plentiful. And then everyone who was there, beyond the fence and Do Not Enter signs, were told by some officials we had to get back behind the fences leaving any additional close-ups impossible. I tried a few blurs at 1/2-second, being so bright out, even though this group of flowers was in the shade of a tree, and managed to get one that showed promise before we called it a day having already sweat through our shirts. I suppose that is why I prefer the cooler months to the heat of the summer. As my wife says, “You can always add some clothes to stay warm…”

Sunflower Blur — Wake County, NC  © jj raia

Sunflower Blur — Wake County, NC © jj raia

After processing the image at the top of the post, I decided to have a look at it as a Black and White since the black background may give it the feel of a formal studio portrait and ended up conflicted as to which seemed a better representation of what I may have wanted at the time. Sometimes you may be photographing under adverse conditions, whether extreme heat, cold or heavy rain and the reasoning and thoughts get lost in the battle to filter out the distracting weather. It’s then that you’re probably working on instinct and not being very purposeful in your approach to whatever is in front of the lens.

I wouldn’t mind some preference feedback on these two options from the throng of folks who actually read these things…all seven of you!! or is it down to even fewer?

Newborn Sunflower B+W - Wake County, NC © jj raia

Newborn Sunflower B+W – Wake County, NC © jj raia