Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lightning In The Palm Of Your Hand

Today’s image breaks the cycle of manipulated images that has been going on around here for, it seems like, a month. Today we have a very straight shot with just a Crop (C) and a little Sharpening (High Pass sharpening) and that’s it. No boosting the individual colors, no HDR Toning, no double or triple copies of the image using a piece of this and a part of that, not even a vignette, just a straight, out of the camera image. Does that mean there’s no trickery to the image? Absolutely not. There is some trickery, but it’s in camera trickery. Almost all the blog writers I read on a daily basis, from Scott Kelby, to all the “Photoshop Guys”, to David(s) Hobby and Ziser say the first rule is to get it right in the camera and “finish” it in Adobe® Lightroom® or Adobe® Photoshop®. Playing with the photography and either making a good shot a great shot or making “art” from a photograph is a very legitimate thing to do. It’s fun! It’s a business opportunity! It’s creative! But, every once in awhile, you do have to rein it in a little and make sure you can still shoot a good frame. Today’s shot was taken outside, in a garden, in broad daylight. If I had only seen the image I would have guessed it was a “still life”, taken in a studio with a black scrim behind. To find out what magic happened in that garden and what today’s headline has to do with it, hit the “read more”.
Today’s image comes from the Botanical Garden in Road Town, Tortola, BVI. We were on a cruise vacation and hadn’t ever stopped at the garden even though it’s a short walk from the cruise ship terminal. It’s a very nice, small garden with a good variety of specimens.

The reference to “lightning” goes to the fact that I always carry a Nikon® SB 600 Speedlite on any sort of photowalk. It’s either naked in a pocket of some cargo pants or shorts or in the case, attached to my belt. The SB 600 is the least expensive Nikon Speedlite that works with the Nikon’s CLS (Creative Lighting System). It’s easy to operate, gives a reasonable range and is light weight compared to the SB 800 or SB 900, making it an easy carry. I figure with a Nikon D300 with a vertical grip, any weight I can save elsewhere is a bonus.

So, I found the flower in today’s image (some sort of orchid I’m guessing) toward the back of the garden. There was a very shady patch some distance beyond. The flower was in its own spot of shade, so I had something to work with. With the camera in Aperture Priority mode I took a shot at the shade. I then put the camera in Manual Mode and set the Shutter Speed two stops higher than the AP exposure. With the flash in TTL (Through The Lens) Mode it was an easy matter to snap off a couple of frames. Knowing how to use your equipment is a key to maxing out the potential in the camera.