Beautiful Subject

I have learned that a beautiful subject does not necessarily make a beautiful photo.

For example, I can capture an image of a flower on my iPhone or with my DSLR camera. When I share that photo, our human experience adds to the 2-dimensional image and we “see” the beauty that was intended. However, if you were to step back and be critical of that image, you might realize that it does not inspire you. And it is quickly forgotten.

We all seem to know the difference between a “nice” photo and a “wow” photo. The “wow’ photos captures the essence of the subject. It often gives the illusion of 3 dimensions or shows a different angle, or additional richness, color or detail that we may not have otherwise noticed.

I recently purchased and repotted a couple night blooming cacti. When the buds opened, I couldn’t wait to photograph each one.  I took a couple of photos and then spent time inspecting them. The flowers were amazing, but the photos were not.

Beautiful Torch Cactus Blossoms in a deep peach magenta (top view shot with my iPhone). These blooms are about 4 inches in diameter and 4 inches tall. 

White Torch Cactus blossom (another iPhone shot)

Creating the “Wow”

I challenged myself to capture the beauty of the flowers and create the “wow” photo. I knew in order to create impact, I needed to isolate the flower and show its detail and color.  But, I had some limitations. The flowers were on thorny cacti so I couldn’t get too close. And I had planted them in large heavy pots, so I couldn’t move them to change the light.

Thinking about the light on the flower, my depth of field (what was in focus and what not)  and being very conscious of the background, I came up with these images.

Torch Cactus Bloom (60mm Macro)  – focusing in on just one bloom at f8

Torch Cactus Bloom (f11, 24-70mm lens with Polarizer, shot at 70mm, using a light diffuser to create a white background)

I realized the blooms would have more impact with a dark background. I waited for the light to shift on the patio so that the flowers were lit but the patio was in shadow.

Same blooms as above, but with the patio in shadow to create a dark background (f8, 24-70mm lens with Polarizer, shot at 62mm)

Second Cactus Bloom, I again waited for the wall behind the cactus to be in shadow  (f8, 60mm macro lens)


Was I successful in creating a “wow” image?

Remember, It’s all about the light.