Back Lighting Rescues a Couple of Pasque Flowers
June 06, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Well, the wildflowers are upon us again! It’s always amazing to me how quickly we can go from frozen brown dirt to colorful hillsides. In less that two weeks time and with only four seventy degree days the landscape around Crested Butte has become dotted, if not carpeted, with an array of colors that would make Crayola proud. Even more amazing is that the quick change from spring to summer has left some of our spring flowers around as well. It’s pretty rare to have Pasque Flowers and Glacier Lilies still blooming when the Lupine and Columbine are starting to pop. But we’ll take it!
The Pasque Flowers above are among the earliest bloomers around these parts. They’ve frequently gone to seed before the first of June but they offer the first promise of a colorful summer for those of us who’ve become tired of a white landscape.
I’m no flower expert as my wildflower photo workshop students will testify. I do keep track of what blooms where and when but I struggle with their names (both the flowers’ and the students’). Maybe it’s part of my visual nature. Anyway, Pasque Flowers only grow to about six inches tall and like a lot of our flowers, they close at night and won’t reopen until the sunlight hits them. Depending on their surroundings, you can find these flowers fully opened or closed depending on whether they’re in a sunny spot or the shade. This situation lends itself to the lighting apparent in the photo above, back-lit subjects against a dark, almost black, background. These two have just begun to open to greet the day. I think the Pasques are most attractive before they are completely open and having the light source (sun) illuminating the flowers from behind shows off the “hairy” nature of the petals as well as their transparency. They have a nice glow about them when photographed this way. Another advantage to the back-light approach is that it can help to remove distractions from the photograph since the distracting elements are rendered in deep shade. I think the leaning flower on the left gives the scene a little personality that two perfectly upright flowers would lack. When faced with an acre of flowers these are the types of decisions we need to make.
Creating effective photographs in the field is often about getting rid of the distractions. It’s a fact that I wish more photographers would embrace. Paring the image down to its essentials and being extremely aware of what’s going on in the corners of the frame are critical visual decisions necessary to create images others will enjoy. Today, with Adobe Photoshop, we have better tools for correcting mistakes made in the field but our images are far better if we do most of the “correcting” before the button is pushed. Besides, sitting at the computer “fixing” my photos isn’t nearly as much fun as being in the field creating new images.
Keywords: Art, Photography, color, Colorado, composition, Flower, spring, summer, Tech Talk, Wildflower
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