Monday, April 9, 2012

Annual Spring Bloom Show:
Garfield Park Conservatory

The display area of the annual Spring Bloom Show (formerly called the Spring Bulb Show) at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Indianapolis is quite modest. If you aren't an ardent admirer of tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and the like, you can easily cover the area in two minutes at a slow stroll.

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.


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