Monthly Archives: April 2012

Portraits vs. Patterns

More frequently than not, most photographers discover a wonderful object and line it up in a traditional sense for a nice portrait shot. Myriad numbers of flowers are captured daily around the world. We like flowers; the colors and aromas dazzle and mesmerize us and stimulate our desire to capture the beauty.

When we set up, we think of the many things we have learned about exposure, depth-of-field and the rules of composition and nine out of ten times come up with a very nice image when it clicks. The backyard iris below is one of those images.

Nikon D2Xs, 200 mm F4.0 Micro Nikkor lens, Gitzo tripod and hand-held diffuser. (Both images.)

But if you work with your subject long enough- and you should- you will discover other marvels, often overlooked at first glance. To work your subject I will repeat the instructions of my mentor, Bob Sisson, 45-year natural science photographer at National Geographic.  “Hoover the subject,” he would say. Like using the vacuum cleaner of the same name, Bob would admonish me to, “move around the subject on all sides, get low and high and move in close for the details.” Here is where the magical image lives.

And Bob’s advice is most always correct. There is magic in the details. And it usually isn’t the first image the you visualize. Compare the image below of the same blossom. You choose.

So the story goes. Take your time and make photographs don’t just take pictures. Hoover the subject for the best images. And take at least three views: the environment (or habitat) shot, the portrait (or habit) shot and then go in for the close-up details. That’s where the real beauty may hide!

© 2012 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

Painted surprise

Boy Scouts have a motto that states: “Be Prepared”. This motto is a perfect one for the field photographer because one will never know what you may see if you really inspect the environment closely. This may change your photographic direction significantly.

Yesterday while on a wildflower trip to the Texas Hill Country near my Austin home, I stepped out of the vehicle prepared to make a wide angle landscape image of a display of wildflowers. However, I stopped to look at some Indian blanket flowers (Gaillardia pulchella) and spied this well-hidden moth  on one of the blossoms. Not to pass up the opportunity, I quickly switched to a macro lens and fill flash to capture the miniature surprise in front of me.

Painted schinia moth, (Schinia volupia). Nikon D2Xs, 200 mm F 4.0  Micro Nikkor, SB-800 flash, Gitzo tripod.

This Painted schinia moth has a wingspan of 20–22 mm and is found from Arizona to Texas, and north to Nebraska in open fields and meadows where the host and larval food plant Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella) thrives. It is often seen resting on the flower heads of the host plant, as above, and is attracted to lights.

Copyright © 2012 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.