Monday, April 9, 2012
Annual Spring Bloom Show:
Garfield Park Conservatory
But I go almost every year because I can usually find something different or create a new composition idea. Besides, tulips are one of the most elegant floral creations ever, and if you've got a good camera and a very good lens, you can usually find a few frames in your that make you smile ... or even feel in awe.
I made it to this year's show on its last day, April 6. There, indeed, was a new feature in the conservatory's atrium, where the show is displayed each year: towering tropical leaf plants along the south wall, right against the glass that helps enclose the year-round tropical gardens display. A few pictures of it appear immediately below this text. To capture it adequately, I turned to my Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 ultra wide-angle lens. I feared I'd encounter distortion -- as I often do with the the ultra wide-angle -- and I did. I could have elected to crop out the white gazebo and simply straightened the remaining elements, leaving little evidence of distortion. But, I felt the gazebo -- or a portion of it, anyway -- would be an important thing to include to complete the perspective provided chiefly by the woman sitting in the bench directly in front of the ginormous plant. I couldn't shoot straight on for this particular shot; the afternoon sun was beaming right at me, so I went to the side (90-degree angle) to compose. (I eventually did take a straight-on shot, to see how a silhouette would come out).
I bracketed three images at different exposures for the side shot of the plant (with the woman on the bench) with the purpose of treating it in high-dynamic range (HDR) software in post-processing. I also bracketed exposures for a few front 45-degree angle shots. I didn't have my tripod or monopod with me (the conservatory doesn't allow tripods anyway), so I sat on the floor with knees bent high enough to allow me to rest the camera on them. I then composed using the 7D's live view feature, a tactic I've turned to a lot the past year to help me compose when I'm in a need for steady hand-holding ... or for inconspicuous shots. It's a challenge to compose and focus, but once you do, you simply keep holding down the shutter button halfway -- and look up and watch your subject straight on till you see a moment you want to capture then simply follow through with the shutter press. I did that several times Saturday night for my shoot at the Craig and Patrick Fuller performance for the Indy Acoustic Cafe Series (pictures of that coming in a future post), and got some great performance and spectator shots as a result.
After those shots, I took my usual cruise through the tropical plants garden to see what else I could come up. I did find some fun things. For all shots other than the ones of the big leaf plant, I used my Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro lens. Here are the rest of the pictures from Friday's shoot at the Spring Bloom Show.