May the best flower photo win

I am judging a flower contest on Photo.net: “Flowers find a way into vacation, portraiture, wedding, landscape, fine art and nearly any kind of photography collection you can think of. How DOES nature create such beautiful, perfect, magical living things?”

The flower photo with the most Photo.net member votes gets a nice Sigma 120-400mm lens (I want one!), and I get to choose a winner who will receive a copy of my new book The Way of the Digital Photographer.

Here’s the link for the flower photography contest.

Dance of the Tulips by Harold Davis

Dance of the Tulips © Harold Davis

About this image: I started with some beautiful tulips from the North Berkeley Farmer’s Market. I placed the tulips on a black background.

I’ve written previously about using my 18-200mm zoom lens with a 36mm extension tube to create a kind of poor person’s macro lens. This kind of setup can get you very close, and it has a neat soft focus feeling and cool bokeh. Of course, I wouldn’t use it if I wanted end-to-end precision macro sharpness. The odd thing is that optically what works best is to set the lens manually on infinity, find your distance, and then “focus” using the zoom ring.

My next step was to add approximately 8 f-stops of neutral density to the front of the lens so I could make quite long exposures, in the 5 seconds to 30 seconds range with the lens stopped down.

Finally, I timed each exposure so that the lens was fixed and “in focus” for about half the exposure, and then a carefully and smoothly rotated the zoom dial to get an out-of-focus effect for the remainder of the exposure.

In other words, the effect combines the hardness and definition of a fully stopped-down in-focus lens with the soft focus of a motion blur and an image thrown intentionally out-of-focus.

Exposure data: 18-200mm zoom lens, starting at about 135mm, 36mm extension tube, 15 seconds at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.

This entry was posted in Flowers.

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