Tag Archives: flowers

Brightness to Start a New Month

Impressionistic Adaptation of Pink Orchid

I have been to Longwood Garden’s orchid display dozens of times.  On a recent visit I wandered through looking for a different way to capture the beauty of the display.  I thought a double exposure of some orchids rotated about 45 degrees might be interesting. I added a little Topaz Impression to achieve the final result.  It is a bright image to start a bright new September.  Have a good one!

I enjoy experimenting from time to time.  It inspires me to look a little deeper.

Beauty of Molokai 1

Art, Color and Beauty are Everywhere

I recently attended a contemplative photography retreat at beautiful Hui Ho’olana on Moloka’i.  The next several posts will be from the retreat.

Beauty was everywhere I looked.  It presented itself along every path, around every corner. It seemed that it was just asking to be photographed.  

Red, green and yellow
Spiked leaves shoot out like a star
Just asking to be noticed

A Day of Fun and Practice

Wildflowers – Snow Mountain Ranch, Cowiche, Washington

I took a day to explore and photograph wildflowers.  I tried to capture both the overall feel of the large masses of flowers and their place in the countryside as well as individual vignettes of little scenes of flowers and interesting subjects.

This image I attempted to capture the field of bright wildflowers set against the green hillsides covered with sage brush and bunch grass and the interesting clouds in the background.  My objective was to capture the feel of the beautiful, cloudy, peaceful day.

A Day to Celebrate Life

Wildflowers – Snow Mountain Ranch, Cowiche, WA

Today is a special day.  It is a day to celebrate the wonderful life Karen and I had together.  What a better way to celebrate than to take a nice walk and enjoy the wildflowers of early Spring. It was a beautiful day.  The hills were covered with brilliant wildflowers … yellow, pink, purple, blue and the lush green of spring grasses.  Peace surrounded me.  It was a wonderful time to reflect on our lives and what is right in this world.

It was a day to CELEBRATE !!!


150422_Yellow & White Daffodils by Karl G. Graf. Canon 7D MkII, EF 100mm f/2.8 IS Macro @ f/8.0, 1/640 sec, ISO 400

As I was coming in from my morning shoot of our garden, I saw these two blooms intermingled in a clump of white and yellow daffodils.  They reminded me of two close friends , one whispering in the other’s ear.

I cannot recall how many times that I have been getting ready to put my camera away for the shoot when that one last image pops up in front of me.  It seems to be one of my most alert times.  On multiple occasions, this last image is my select from the whole shoot.

Lesson Learned:  Always be ready for the image to come to you!

Purple Crocus

150410_PurpleCrocus_ME by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MkIII, EF 180mm Macro 3.5L – Multiple Exposure

These purple crocuses came out two days after the white ones.  They do so every year.  The white crocuses come out with a few blooms first, followed by the rest a couple days later.  The purple crocuses seem to come out all at once.  I was lucky with a couple of nice warm days when the blooms emerged.  The last couple of days have been cold and rainy.  The crispness of the flowers are now gone.

For Lexie:  The way this image was achieved is different from the white crocus image in my post a few days ago.  Large telephoto lenses have a narrow depth of field.  My target here was to get enough depth of field to capture detail in the nearest petal, the center, and the farthest petal of the nearest bloom.  It took an aperture setting of f/16 to achieve this.  However, using this aperture also pulled in detail from the background flowers.  I then took an image with the widest aperture (f/3.5) of my lens which only captured the center of the nearest flower in focus.  The edges of the bloom and all the background blooms were not in focus.  To make sure the images would line up when I processed them, I used a tripod.

Back on my computer, I combined the f/3.5 and f/16 images into a multiple exposure using Photoshop’s layers.  The background layer was the sharp f/16 image.  The second layer was the f/3.5 image.  I added a layer mask to the second layer and “painted” through the nearest bloom of the f/16 flower.  I then lightened the sharp bloom and darkened the edges to get the final image.

The following is the f/16 SOC image as reference:

150410_PurpleCrocus_SOC by Karl Graf.

Siberian Iris – “In Your Face”

150409_SiberianIris_Macro by Karl Graf. Canon 5DMkIII, EF180mm Macro f/3.5L @ 180mm, f/32, 0.5 sec, ISO 200

These small 3/4 inch blooms are great targets for Macro photography.  In recent years I have not spent much time doing macros.  Macro’s in our garden usually require getting down on my hands and knees or on my stomach to get face to face with the object of interest.  I am not as flexible as I use to be and am reluctant to get down in that position.  But these jewels just begged me to do it … so I did.

For Lexie:  When I take an image, I always try to specify what my subject is.  My next step is to enhance the subject as much is possible.  Then I try to reduce any clutter that may distract from the subject.

For this image my subject was the “mouth” of the single blossom, not any surrounding petals.  To enhance the image I used a 180 mm telephoto macro lens focusing on the interior mouth of the bloom.  I used a very small aperture to make sure I got as much of the bloom in focus as I could.  In addition, I tilted the camera to get a more interesting perspective of the blossom.

The negative ramification of the small aperture was that I also picked up details surrounding the single bloom as clutter.  To eliminate the surrounding clutter, I darkened and desaturated the background in post processing.  In addition I added a blur to the mid-ground purple petals.

For reference, below is the SOC version of the image.

150409_SiberianIris_Macro_SOC by Karl Graf.

Spring Welcomes the “Huskies”

150407_Purple&Gold_Crocus by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MkIII, EF24-70 f/2.8L @ 58mm, f/11, 1/320 sec, ISO 800

These purple and gold (yellow) crocuses welcome the UW Huskies to Spring.  Purple and Gold are like Red to me.  When you see either … SHOOT!  These crocuses are the prelude of what more is to come soon.

For Lexie:  The weather conditions made taking this photo difficult.  The wind was blowing pretty hard, so the blooms were moving rapidly.  The sun was coming in and out of the clouds, so the exposure was also changing rapidly.  Waiting for the right combination of the sun going behind the clouds and the wind easing a little required a lot of patience.  It took me about 20 minutes to get the right combination.  In processing the image, I took a short cut and used one of NIK Color Efex Pro plugin presets to get the feeling that I was looking for.  Below is the original image straight out of the camera (SOC).  Which one do you like best?

150407_Purple&Gold_Crocus_SOC by Karl Graf.

Easter Emergence

150406_First Siberian Iris Blooms by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MkIII, EF24-70mm f2.8L @ 52mm, f/8, 1/320 sec, ISO 800

These Siberian Iris blooms were nowhere to be seen the day before Easter.  I walked out in our garden on Easter afternoon and there they were!  It was an Easter gift.  These small blooms are one of my dear wife’s favorites.

For Lexie:  There was nothing really special in this RAW image.  There was a lot of clutter around the individual blooms.   I could not do much except to create a tight image to minimize the clutter.  See the following original image straight from the camera.

150406_First Siberian Iris Blooms2 by Karl Graf. However, I knew that I could do a little processing to improve the image.  This is what I did.  1) Added tonal contrast to pop out the blooms, 2) decreased the structure, brightness, and saturation around the blooms, 3) added a vignette blur around the blooms, 4) cloned out the two purple flowers at the top right of the image, and 5) did a little additional cropping.

Happy Easter and Here Comes Spring

150405_First Crocus Blooms by Karl Graf. Canon 5D MkIII, EF100mm f/2.8 Macro IS @ 100mm, f/8, 1/800 sec, ISO 400

Happy Easter to all.  The rising of these little white crocuses from the earth symbolize Easter for me.  These little 1/2 inch flowers beneath one of our flowering pears are always the first blooms in our garden each year.  We planted them twelve years ago, covered them with layers of bark each year, hoe the bark to break up the soil, and they still come up.  They are really the first sign of spring for us.

For Lexie – Taking and processing the image:  I laid on my belly to get an eye to eye view of this single crocus.  I positioned the bloom against the background of other crocuses to give it a little context.  Within the camera frame, I positioned the bloom in the bottom right power point using the “rule of thirds”.  The wind was blowing hard, so I used a fast shutter speed to freeze the bloom.  I compromised the depth of field setting at f/8 to get a relatively sharp image of the flower while blurring the background blooms.  I softened the image, highlighted the single bloom, and darkened the background in Photoshop to get the final image.