Presented by acclaimed photographer Saxon Holt, the challenge he put to us this month was to use the the entire canvas - the full expanse of the photograph - to create a well constructed composition of elements or to feature and isolate an element that drew our eye.
I have to be honest, this month's contest has been the most challenging one for me so far.
|I love the textures surrounding the pansies.|
Having participated in several GGW contests over the past several months, what I have come to understand is that the more I learn, the more I am able to appreciate just how little I know. At the very least, I see some books on garden photography in my future!
|This was a tiny splotch of color in the original photo.|
She gave some wonderful pointers and examples and I made a conscious effort to really look at what I was photographing.
|I probably could have cropped the top a bit more.|
In trying to improve my garden photography skills, I am thankful for two things: we are in the digital, not film, age of photography, and I have no reticence in relegating poor shots to the Recycle Bin.
Given that I had been photographing our gardens, dogs, insects, fruits and vegetables, and weeds daily (yes, an average of almost 200 photographs or more each day, 4-5 days a week), I was certain that my biggest dilemma would be deciding which one of the potentially dozens of perfectly framed photographs I was certain I'd taken over the summer would be the best one to enter into the contest.
I read through Saxon Holt's tutorial several times and even though I thought I understood the basic concepts involved, I have struggled to apply them in practical terms to my own photographs.
|UPDATE: Ultimately, I submitted this photo....|
Although I am someone who learns best by reading, the absence of objective feedback makes it hard for me to know if I've really "gotten it" or if I'm just deluding myself into thinking I have. (I am guessing that in addition to several books, there is going to be a photography course in my future as well, LOL.)
another blog post yesterday in which he reviewed the fundamentals of creating a composition that "fills the frame" and included several more examples. I'm still not certain that I've been able to effectively translate the lesson to my photographs but as they say in New England, it's time to fish or cut bait.
I still struggle with the concept of "negative space" vs. "wasted" space. I also have difficulty determining if the "scene" should take center stage on my "canvas" (like his waterfall image does) or whether a more effective use of my canvas would be to isolate an element from that scene as he did with the image of the feather grass and Phormium.
As you can see from the photographs peppered throughout this post, I tried to apply the concepts of this challenge to photographs that I've taken over the summer. Deciding which photograph to submit for the contest was hard, not because I thought that they were all excellent examples of the technique, but rather, I am concerned that none of them demonstrate the concept all that well.
One of my top two contenders is this next photograph of a hummingbird clearwing moth. I love the way the out of focus blooms, twigs and leaves melt into the background yet form a frame around this amazing creature. I would have painted it exactly this way if I were dabbling in watercolors. My guess, however, is that the photograph posted above is a better use of the entire canvas. I suspect that an expert critiquing this image would note that what I view as attractive negative space is actually wasted space.
In answering the question I've asked myself about each photograph - What is the story this picture tells? - to me, the presence of the somewhat ethereal background evokes the idea of a faerie glen, not just your ordinary butterfly bush in a garden. (Okay, so I have a vivid imagination as well.) I also liked the way the dark foliage in the upper right corner brought out (at least to my untrained eye) the dark coloration on the clearwing.
The other top contender is this last photograph of one of my favorite roses, Bella Roma. A hybrid tea with a wonderful fragrance, I was struck by the way the cane and leaves "frame" the rose. I also love how a spray of the shrub rose Passionate Kisses that is blurred and out of focus forms a lovely backdrop for the single Bella Roma blossom. It reminds me of a botanical print.
My only regret is that I didn't groom the shrub before I photographed it to remove the dried bloom near the bottom of the frame. I considered cropping the bottom but felt that the leaf spray on the bottom was an essential part of the "frame" that I was trying to capture.
|Bella Roma taking center stage in one of my favorite photographs|
Other than cropping, I did not edit any of these photographs at all. As far as which photograph will ultimately be submitted to the contest before tonight's midnight deadline, perhaps you can help me decide. I vacillate between the two, but right now, I'm leaning toward the hummingbird clearwing moth, although I'm open to suggestions and feedback!
UPDATE: Well, the decision is in.... Steve was really taken with the photograph of the hummingbird clearwing and the common buckeye sharing a wand of buddleia blossoms and so that is the one I submitted.