May week 3 – Diagonal drama from fence to flower

Fences with rusting nails and rivets, peeling paint and metal spikes on brick corners can make for interesting abstract images especially when illuminated by early morning light.  This series of details is on the fence enclosing the PG&E pump station from public view right next door to me.  So no long jaunts for these kinds of images.  Diagonal lines and complimentary colors emphasize these abstracts.

If you don’t want to deal with Photoshop or other processing programs you can do some creative tweaking in camera.  For example I like to change the white balance.  Often I will set my white balance to “flash” when I am not using a flash.  This acts like a welcomed warming filter (81B)in many nature settings.  On this fence the metallic knob was almost a flat cobalt-blue color, but with the morning light and the white balance set to “flash” it brought out the rusty-orange which I prefer in this image.

Details and abstracts of larger views create a new world in which you often cannot determine the actual scale of the things in the picture. This tends to hold the viewer’s attention when she or he is trying to figure out what they are looking at.  And all the more better if they never figure it out.

Returning to a familiar location can often pay off especially if the changing weather disrupts a predictable bloom.  That was the case for me when finding a few wild columbines blooming at mile marker 12.43 on the Fairfax Bolinas road heading toward Stinson beach.  A month ago the grasses, plants, scrubs and branches had been cut down along the road and it looked like these plants would only be blooming down the near cliff slope.

Beautiful is the red crimson columbine
    like a fire cracker ablaze in the forest
Dancing to a mellow tempest
Blooming the orange-gold smiles
   of the waning spring
Edging the roadside of wonder
   and bringing joy to the soul
   of earth and her two legged travelers.


Wild Columbines are difficult to photograph because their stems are so thin and long that even the gentlest of breezes will set the flower in rapid motion.  Using a flash can help greatly so that you have a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the motion caused by the breeze.  This way you don’t have to shoot wide open which gives you very little depth-of-field.  Better to let the background go black, due to the distance the flash is able to land on, than to have a blurry image.

In fact I like a black background occasionally with a wild flower.  Although your viewer might not know the image was captured in the wild.  Positioning the Columbine’s stem in a diagonal from left to right (like the fence crack and rivet) provides drama and excitement.

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