Special Effects Coleus: Another Gallery

On Wordless Wednesday this week, I posted nine photos of three identical coleus plants I added to my garden this year, and the gallery below contains eleven additional images.

Coleus — typically a fast growing annual — is always notable for intense colors throughout its leaves and stems, making it a great subject for close-up photography. This variety’s name is “Special Effects” — that isn’t something I did to enhance the photos — because of the luminous whites, yellows, and reds throughout its leaves. The leaf in the fourth photo below, for example, appears to have added light; but that’s actually how it looks, even in the shade.

Select any image to begin a slideshow; thanks for taking a look!

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Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 4 of 4

The gallery below features the last of the four sets of hydrangea photos I started posting earlier in June. These blooms are Bluebird Hydrangeas, which I planted several years ago at the edge of a shade garden surrounded by holly ferns and hostas, where they seem to be thriving. The presence of the holly ferns created a lot of dark green in the shadows, and provided a unique background for the sixth and seventh images.

For these photos, I put some extra effort into getting appropriate focus where I wanted it, and I experimented with casting light from different directions to learn how that affected the images. The clusters of tiny, unopened blooms were challenging because they extended several inches behind the white petals, creating some confusion for the camera (and the photographer!) with even the slightest motion. I added some last minute sharpening to those sections of the photos only, so that those clumps would take on some shape rather than appearing as mushy blobs of alternating colors. To add light, alter its trajectories, and create a little drama, I simply placed an LED lamp in varying positions near the plants until I got an effect that I liked. All in all: great fun!

Here are links to the previous three sets in this series:

Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 1 of 4

Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 2 of 4

Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 3 of 4

Thanks for reading and taking a look!

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Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 3 of 4

The gallery below features another fifteen images of new blooms on three Blue Billow hydrangeas that I previously wrote about here.

I aimed for precise focus on the green bud at the center of each of these blooms, with only partial success. Holding a spring breeze responsible for the slight softness seems like a good strategy; though in reality I would have probably had better results by pulling back a foot or so then cropping half of the extra content out of each one. The tiny center bud is only about the size of a pencil eraser, so getting it in focus with the camera hand-held was a challenge. When working with a macro lens, also, I often find this to be true: subjects like these blooms will come out at least as good, and often much better, If I step back rather than lean in, and will still “fill the frame” appropriately once I get a look at them in Lightroom rather than basing the composition on what I see using the camera’s viewfinder or LED screen.

That’s actually the approach I took in the fourth gallery — of Bluebird Hydrangeas, which I’ll post soon — and it worked out a lot better. In my ideal version of the photos below, both the center and most of the adjacent petals would be tack-sharp. I liked the compositions so worked these photos using typical Lightroom adjustments and Nik Collection filters anyway; hopefully what they lack in focus in some cases becomes less significant if the compositions and lighting are technically decent.

These blooms are more open than those in the previous set, and most (but not all) of the green tint that I described there has faded into white or pale blue. The last photo is just weird — like a landscape from the distant planet Hydrangea — so weird I couldn’t bear to part with it and posted it just for fun.

Select the first image to view larger versions in a slideshow. The previous gallery is here: Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 2 of 4; and the first one with some additional notes on how these photos came about is here: Exploring Photography: Hydrangea Gallery 1 of 4.

If you use Lightroom and were interested in the B&H EventSpace webinars I described in that first post, you might want to check their June and July offerings, where several new Lightroom webinars have been scheduled, along with a couple new post-processing sessions.

Thanks for reading and taking a look!