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



10 thoughts on “Lucky

  1. As a non-objective person who loves your work I do have to say I prefer the color version vs. the black and white. While I like the b/w version what is so striking about sunflowers, to me, is their beautiful yellow color and their contrast to the green. And in front of the black background it really pops. Just my two cents!


  2. I do read your posts, I just don’t normally respond. :-). As far as the two images you ask about, I like the color version. ORAH’s explanation is spot on with my thinking. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on the two…it’s about even on preferences so far. My concern is viewers may not realize it’s a flower in B+W without the help from the text that accompanies it. Hope you’ve found the posts helpful. jj


  3. ohh..this is a hard one. The bw really brings my focus to the fabulous textures but its a sunflower so I want to see the color. I think b/c of the black background, I’ll vote bw. Looks more fine art to me.


  4. I kind of like the B&W. it is very different and nit the usual flower picture. I pay more attention to the structure of the flower as it simplifies it for me. Nice work as usual!


    1. Thanks Jo – It seems to be split 3:2 so far and I am still torn between the two. If you only were looking at the B+W and never read the blog, I’m concerned that viewers may not even realize it is a flower, maybe just a plant because you can make out the leaves. Any way, thanks for reading and taking the time to weigh in…always appreciated.


  5. The B&W is nice but I prefer the color version. A quick search on the web told me why. It is a perfect exemple of an analogous color scheme image. Green as the main with some yellow (next on the color wheel) with black as an accent. It create a serene and comfortable design.

    Sorry that you were kick out of the field. I went yesterday evening and it was not a pretty sight. The fence was broken from people going over it. People everywhere all over the field. Picking flowers and bringing back huge bouquets. When so many people are disrespectful of the place, is there any other choice than trying to limit access? Nobody was there to restrict access yesterday evening. It was not pretty.


    1. It seems to be split down the middle so far on the B+W vs color. I went to the field again this morning very early and there were already about ten cars there at 630am!! I saw the broken fence and plenty of “professional” photographers were taking portraits of their clients and having them pick flowers to hold and put in their hair or hold near their face, all the while rambling throughout the field. I stayed along the outside edges and did the best I could with what I could find there. Even saw a few leftover soda cups!! Thanks for taking the time to reply. jj


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