Pictures OF something or Pictures ABOUT something... | Daylily Blog

<posted January 9, 2014> This is the daylily H. 'Brookwood Wow.'  I've posted so many pictures of it and talked about it so much over the years I hesitated to use it in today's haiku, but the stark white of its petals reminded me of the blinding polar vortex snow outside.  (polar vortex? Really?!?!)

I saw this above photo in my files and knew I had to use it to talk about a concept I'm exploring in my garden photography.  I've been pondering that there is a distinct difference in taking a picture OF something versus taking a picture ABOUT something.

If I take a picture OF something, its simply documenting its existence in that moment.  

Here is a picture I think is a picture OF the daylily, H. 'Special Candy.'

Now here is a picture that is ABOUT the daylily, H. 'Special Candy.'

Those are two very different photos of the same plant on the same day with the same camera and photographer.  The first photo was taken later in the afternoon; the second one was taken first thing in the morning, while the dew was still undisturbed.  Look how the pollen sacs are still closed tight in the morning and in the afternoon they are full and fluffy.

While the first photo captures the basic details of this daylily, shows its basic shape, coloration and positioning, that's about all it does.  I don't FEEL anything when I look at that first photo.

BUT, when I see the second photo, my eyebrows raise a bit.  The corners of my mouth turn up as my eye follows the deep plum edge and falls into that green throat.  This photo is ABOUT H. 'Special Candy.'

Setting up a photo ABOUT something takes a little practice.  Here are some of my personal thoughts on taking pictures that evoke emotion:
  • See the photo through your viewfinder or on your LCD screen as you would be looking at the photo.
  • MOVE AROUND when taking the photos.  Crouch.  Bend.  Look up.  Stoop.  Lean.  Repeat.
  • Find one focal point when you are setting up the photo.  Move your eye out from that focal point and try to keep out distracting background stuff that takes your eye away from that focal point.  

    In this photo above, what do you think my focal point was?  Yep!  The green throat.  

    Now look at the top photo. Where is the focal point?  Don't try too hard. There isn't one.  That's part of what makes this top photo just a photo OF H. 'Special Candy' and not really ABOUT it.

Granted, if you are on a garden tour and have about 30 minutes to see 8 acres of gardens, you aren't writing a mental dissertation setting up each photo. 

You're walking and clicking and talking and eating and gasping and clicking. 

You don't have time to think through every shot.  On last years regional tour of 6 gardens, I took almost 600 photos.  That's quick shooting.  You have to get in a rhythm of knowing what kind of picture you want to look at.  FIND A FOCAL POINT before you push that shutter. If nothing speaks to you in the photo as a focal point, why are you taking the photo?

Here are two more examples.  The first photo is a nice shot of the many scapes on the edge of one of my island beds.  Lots of buds, a splash of dark in the middle, but it doesn't really SAY anything.  It's a picture OF scapes.

Now, THIS photo is also of the edge of one of the island beds.  Notice right away the bloom of H. 'God Save The Queen' staring at you from the photo.  

Even if you don't know what H. 'God Save The Queen' is, because I told you it was the focal point of the photo below, you now know for sure!

That photo is ABOUT scapes and the presence of one particular daylily - not just OF a bunch of scapes.

You have to get quick about setting up photos to get the maximum raw image.  This method eats up battery in my camera because I work solely with the LCD screen, but I don't mind.  Most of the shots I take are usable and worthy of keeping since I use a quick mental focus to shoot them.

Photography is one of my favorite facets of my daylily collection.  Capturing intricacies, exposing inherent awesomeness, and creating a library of garden memories for a digital lifetime!

Til next time - 


MamaRabia said...

Wow! Those are beautiful flowers!! And I can totally see your distinction between pictures OF something and pictures ABOUT something. I can't wait to check out more of your blog and get to know you better! Cheers from SITS!

Julie Jordan Scott said...

Oh, your photos are beautiful. I love the tips you are sharing as well. Fantastic!

I'm from your tribe at the SITSgirls. I'm visiting my new grandbaby this week (going home tomorrow!) so its been sort of crazy!

I look forward to getting to know you (and your blog!) better as this week goes along!

Lisa Orchard said...

Awesome pics! I'm looking forward to getting to know you better and chatting with you! I'm stopping by from the SITS challenge! :)

Nikki Schmith said...

Hello, #SITS tribe! Glad to see Lisa, Julie and Rabia here enjoying my adventures in the garden. Thank you for coming by, and I'm looking forward to seeing YOUR blogs, too!


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