Name one flower that almost everyone has in their yard, or in a nearby park, and a good answer is the notorious dandelion. This ‘weed’ keeps many people busy in their yards all year. Cree goes to war all summer trying to keep these ‘flowers’ out of our yard. But since we have been focusing on backyard flower photographer lately, I convinced her to keep a few around.
Dandelions remind me of a terrific principle in photography; transformation of the everyday mundane into something beautiful. In other words, if you can create a photograph of a dandelion that looks really good, then you are doing something right. You are starting with an obnoxious weed and creating a Picasso out of it (at least you hope so).
Your choices are only limited by your own creative ideas. You might start with a straightforward approach and photograph a dandelion in your yard. Changes in perspective, depth of field, angle of view, focal length and exposure will affect your image. But that is really only the tip of the iceberg. How about picking a ton of dandelions (they’re weeds after all), lying them in the grass in front of one upright flower, and shooting right over the top of this dandelion mattress at F2.8. Now you have a beautiful image bordered by a sea of yellow. Take it a step farther and hold a few dandelions close to the front of your lens so you add even more foreground yellow. And while you are at it, get out the spray bottle and mist the dandelion with some nice water droplets. And since I love flash, I wonder what would happen if I backlit the misty droplets on the dandelion. You get the picture. A simple everyday object can become a beautiful photograph, you just have to imagine the possibilities.
The dandelion image at top is simple. What really made it special was finding other foreground flowers nearby. The purple grape hyacinth added a beautiful border to the yellow flower. Shooting wide open created soft, creamy bokeh and added a delicate feeling to this ‘weed’. As I was photographing this arrangement, another important photography principle came up. What was I really photographing? Or another way of looking at, what really appealed to me about this photograph. I realized I wasn’t really even photographing the dandelion anymore. What really appealed to me about the shot were the beautiful complimentary colors. I went from photographing flowers to splashes of color.
The other day Cree and I were doing a zoom portfolio review with a workshop participant who has traveled with us for many years. As we reviewed his images and noted things to improve, I mentioned a tip that would help his photography. Always remember to ask yourself why are you taking the image. The answer might be simple and obvious. But you might realize something you were missing, which will redirect how you photograph the subject. And in the end you will create a better image of the subject. It is easy to run on autopilot during photography sessions, but don’t forget to ask why.
With everyone home right now, Cree and I are offering new online services including image critiques and processing sessions (with your images). We will do a virtual chat with you and critique your images or help you process images. We can’t tell you how much we have enjoyed just catching up with people! We hope everyone is doing well!