CURVES AND LINES

A handful of recent photos display themes that recur over and over in my work – soft curves and fine lines.

                                                                                                                                                           f 4.2    1/200    50mm

Above, Hosta leaves at a botanical garden (Bellevue Botanical Garden).

                                                                                                                                                              f 5    1/160    75mm

Iris ensata, at the same botanical garden. The mauve-y color is not my favorite, but what gorgeous veining this iris has, and such a graceful, full shape.

                                                                                                                                                               f 5   1/160   20mm

A local wildflower, Piggyback plant (Tolmeia menzeisii) has a softly curving stem, and tiny flowers with swooping petals (the threadlike appendages – the wider “flaps” are sepals).

                                                                                                                                                      f 1.8,  1/3200   20mm

Ornamental grass seeds in motion, from another botanical garden.

                                                                                                                                                          f 1.8   1/4000   20mm

This botanical garden (Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle) is often a little windy. The tall grass catches every breeze. So instead of waiting…and waiting…I went with it, setting a wide open aperture and focusing manually back and forth, letting the focus land where it might. When I got home, I experimented with silvery tones, above, and heightened contrast below.

                                                                                                                                                           f 1.8   1/4000   20mm

I’m experimenting with a different WordPress theme here, one with a clean, white background.

I also have a new lens, which I used for the top two photos. It’s messing with my mind! A power zoom telephoto, it zooms from 45mm to 175mm.  I’m used to a prime 20mm lens, which means I’m used to seeing wide angle shots that include everything, or getting really close to my subject. The 20 mm is a great lens for both situations. But the telephoto is a different animal and I’m not yet comfortable with the narrower field you have with a telephoto. So, another challenge!

Any photographers out there who are used to switching back and forth between very different lenses like these, please let me in on your secrets!


20 comments

  1. Gorgeous! I really like the white background, too. I know this isn’t the same, but I have been trying to nudge myself into oils from my beloved (but PLASTIC!!!) acrylic paint, and your comment about the lens messing with your mind really resonated with me.

    • Hi Melissa, I think it IS similar – you don’t get quite the same results, you have to think differently, you may have to see differently. It’s all good brain exercise, right? 🙂

  2. Not really sure if it’ll help, but I suggest playing with the zoom to get a good feel for what it’ll do in any given situation or setting. Have fun and go with it!

    Thanks to your recent post, I went searching for the path to Devil’s Punchbowl and found it on our last trip. That’s quite the beach. Haven’t managed to post it just yet. The Velella had all dried up and died. The remains stunk to high heaven.

    • You’re right, all I can do is play with it and learn from that. Funny about the Vellela! I was lucky they weren’t at that stage; on the other hand, the light was very glare-y and the wind was fierce. Couldn’t help thinking how nice it would be to photograph there in better conditions, which maybe you had. And the tide, that makes a difference of course. You’re smart to take advantage of the ability to return over and over again to the beaches you photograph the most often.

      • We had a stretch of those fierce, nasty winds down here, too. That was when we chose to head inland away from all that. When we were at the Punchbowl we timed it to a minus tide. It was still a bit windy, but nothing like the previous storm. It seems there’s a wind shift during summer when the winds (nasty and cold) come down from the north. Winter they seem to come out of the south and give us some of our best weather… between our notorious winter storms of course.

        It seems the Valella was all up and down the coast. We gathered some driftwood yesterday for a grape arbor and had dead Valella stuck all over it.

  3. Oh, the Hosta and the grass… My eyes want to EAT these images!
    I’m afraid I can be of no help about the lenses, but I like this theme! The square grid as background makes me think of a notebook, my mind goes to mathematics and science. I think that goes well with your exploring, observing photography.

    • 😉 Hosta and grasses – pared down plants that are so great to photograph because there are so many opportunities for abstraction, and studying simple forms, right? Thanks for your interesting comment about the theme and the pale grid lines, which do appeal to my science-loving side. I just would like the whole thing to fill up the monitor/screen instead of floating in the middle –

  4. A lovely post Lynn! You’ve done an amazing job capturing the grasses and the photo of the hosta sums up 100% why I love those plants so much. My dad is a bit of a Hosta fan and with very green fingers, there’s always some very fine examples in his garden.
    As for switching between lenses Lynn. It’s really about getting to know your lenses. Sit in the garden perhaps and just experimenting at different focal lengths, get to know your depth of field limitations at wider apertures and longer focal lengths. I really don’t think there are any shortcuts here. Just take lots of pictures, notepad to hand, at different settings and get to know your lens intimately. Spending time doing this at home will almost certainly save you potential disappointment in the field. Your new lens sounds like a very useful one to have in your kit bag. Enjoy it! 🙂

    • So, you grew up with hostas, and have a keen appreciation. The first time I saw them I didn’t get it, but that particular planting gradually sunk in, and later, when they became more fashionable in perennial gardens here in the states, I totally got it – the endless variations in leaf color, pattern, and texture, the ability to blend with most any other plant, the sturdiness. I dreamed of a garden with nothing but hostas, just to see what you could do, from tiniest to most grand…
      You’re right, I just have to get to know how this lens works, what the results look like, and at least I’m not waiting a week for film to develop. What I think I want to do is to be able to switch “eye gears” quickly and easily enough so that when I’m out taking pictures and have both lenses with me, I know when to switch. That’s the trick!

    • Thank you, Shimon…and please let me find the time to visit your blog, because I know I will find something there I find nowhere else. But work has taken up so much time lately, what little spare time I have is devoted to getting out, then coming home and working with the photos.

  5. I like these Lynn. As you know I’m very fond of exploring the abstract potential of grasses and seed heads. but since the advent of the digital era (and a declining ability to carry around heavy camera equipment) I have used only a Panasonic Lumix with 24X zoom. The Leica lens is good and it serves my purpose well.

  6. I’ve tried getting a comment thru to you but with the slow internet, it just wouldn’t happen. this is the last day for national geographic’s ‘great nature project’ —– last day to take photos, but you have all day tomorrow to upload them…. hopefully you’ll have time to contribute a few!

    http://greatnatureproject.org

    just reached town and am about to upload the bulk of mine… z

  7. Hi Lynn. The white background is a clean, refreshing change-of-pace from your last theme…….. this looks pretty nice. The weird conundrum for me (speaking of my own site, even) has always been, my opinion tends to change dramatically depending on what sort of images are on display.The fact that you don’t have a banner at the top makes your new look fairly versatile.

    Beautiful images and good luck with that lens. 45-175 is a big buffet! I tend to stick with my 105 prime when I want a change of pace from my wide angle or mid-range zoom and that always seems like a drastic jump that presses my skills. I’ll be interested to take in some of your observations and experience from this new capability of yours.

  8. I usually don’t take to hostas, but yours is wonderful! I like your photographs of the ornamental grasses a lot, too. As for your lens issue, I probably can’t help much. It seems I never can get as close as I want, so I shoot at the zoomiest most of the time, even when that is 180 mm—or I can’t get far enough away, even when the zoom goes out (in?) to 24 mm. So I’m always shooting at the ends of my lenses. You’ll find your way; I’m sure of it.

  9. The look might have changed, Lynn, but the quality of your photography hasn’t 🙂 Yes, I like the new ‘clean’ look and I absolutely love your fourth shot.

  10. Back in my gardening days planting hostas was like opening the salad bar for slugs and snails. I would have been delirious to have hostas, and your grasses, as gorgeous as these. Have fun with the lens Lyn, am sure you will get the hang of it in no time!

  11. Beautiful images, Lynn; I especially love the vein details on the Iris ensata. For many years, I shot only with a medium to long telephoto zoom, whether I was shooting street scenes or portraits or gardens. I liked it because it emphasized the depth of field and had an easy to use macro feature. Now I tend to use a “normal” 50 mm lens for almost everything, even though I have a whole bag full of fancy lenses. As someone mentioned, just play with it so that you can see what it does best. I tend to use a new lens all the time to force my eye to see differently and work with what is in front of me. I also try to frame everything so that I don’t have to crop, like I used to do when i shot slide transparencies. Another fun challenge!


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