Perspective

Sunflower3

I had no expectation of stopping to photograph Sunflowers yesterday and did not leave the farm with the intention of doing so, but that changed when I drove by a field near the river. I usually pass this particular spot under cloak of darkness, on my way to satisfy my coffee habit. Yesterday, however, I drove by in the middle of the day. I turned from the main road and passed the field, perpendicular to its planted rows, and the view below caught my eye. I think most folks believe that, unlike fields of corn for example, Sunflowers are planted by broadcasting seeds across the soil. Maybe they get this impression because large expanses of Helianthus seem disorganized. Be this as it may, it isn’t true and commercial fields are planted by machine, in rows, to facilitate the work of the combine come fall. With regard to the photo below, I felt that desaturation of the background had the effect of emphasizing the distance of the plants in the background. I also liked the perspective of the road, the elevation of which was above the flood plain. The photo above was taken with the panoramic feature of my HX9V and in a field across the road from the one below. I was able to get this shot because this section of the crop occupies a low point in the otherwise uniform field. As such this area remained wet after planting; so wet, in fact, that the seeds didn’t take (or they did and the germlings then rotted). The result was a large weedy area completely surrounded by sunflowers. I was able to immerse myself in the field with only a few plants in the immediate foreground. It would have been fun to record a full 360º view of the surrounding plants, but this 180º shot will do.

Sunflower

25 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. Beautiful – but eerie, too! Black and white seems to forebode that these flowers are bound to wither. But I am just compiling an eerie spam poem so my mental connections are maybe weird.

  2. The second view makes me think it’s a photographic equivalent of a split-level home. I’ve seen selective desaturation, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone use quite the approach you did.

    • Hmmmm, your comment could be read two ways, and I’m not sure which you intended. ” … I don’t think I’ve seen anyone use quite the approach you did, and to tell you the honest truth, it really isn’t working for me.” Or, alternately, ” … I don’t think I’ve seen anyone use quite the approach you did, and it really works for me.”
      Anyway, my daughter is home visiting (the daughter entirely in-touch with pop culture). She said, “Dad, you HAVE to watch this video.” And, I must say that I enjoyed it immensely, and I think you will too. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I give it two thumbs up and a grade of A+.

        • You’re not going to believe this Steve … or, perhaps you will … first, you have quoted my ALL TIME FAVORITE written palindrome … second, when we transition from discussions of molecular genetics to transgenics and DNA fingerprinting I actually play this Yankovic video in class. The kids love it once they tune in to what’s going on! Turns out that most DNA restriction sites (places where restriction enzymes cleave DNA) are palindromic!

          ……..TTAGCACGTGCTAA …….
          ……..AATCGTGCACGATT …….

          for example … the strands read the same forward (on one strand) and backward (on the other strand)! Forgive me … but you DO know that this is a parody of Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues, right?

          • I’ll chime in and say that I immediately recognized that this was a parody of a scene with Bob Dylan.
            That’s pretty neat about palindromic DNA, something I’d never heard about till now.

          • Ummmm, yeah! I was concerned that you might not realize that. We always had a salami or two hanging in my father’s deli and, well, “My name is Steve and I am a lasagna hog.”

            As far as DNA strands go, that is so far over my head that I will just go sit in the corner and let the adults talk.

      • It’s the second, I like it. Regarding the Weird Al video, a couple of other people have already steered me to it. Any help we can get to make people more aware of language is welcome, so I’ll second your A+.

  3. I like what you’ve done there. I was curious as to how you’d done it and so read through the comments first. Here’s the question that remains – do you have to construct separate masks for each sunflower manually using something like the lasso tool or is there an easier way?

    • To tell the truth, this panoramic image was first processed with Photomatix as what’s called a tone map (an HDR using just a single image … artifically gives the image highs and lows it might now otherwise have). There’s an adjustment in there called Saturation Shadows which allows adjustments to be made to the color saturation of areas of the image which are in shadow. Because everything in this image, save the flowering heads, was in shadow … desaturation of these areas made everything, but the yellow of the heads, black and white! Sneaky huh? Once processed in Photomatix, I imported the thing into Lightroom for its final workup. I’m glad you liked the image. I’m not really sure that processing to this degree is really my ‘thing,’ but it was fun this time around. D

  4. Interesting how something as earthy as a sunflower can be made to look so futuristic just by taking away the color! Reminds me of a scene from the Hunger Games! Too stark for me!

    • Do you have access to a photo editor Julie? Something like Photoshop, Lightroom, or GIMP? It is programs such as these that make the difference. Even if you are shooting JPEG images (rather than RAW data files) the photo-editing software that is available these days it simply amazing and allows your photos to reach their full potential. Cameras are programmed to a bit of image processing such that photos look nice on your LCD and as prints … but the human eye it much better at interpreting the feel and message to be conveyed of any artistic image. And, that is what the editing software allows you to. It allows you to express your artistic interpretation through manipulation. To answer your question directly, however, I use Adobe Lightroom. In this particular case I used what’s called a ‘brush’ to capture the background of the photo … then, having told the software that I want to work with the background, I was then able to desaturate, that is … remove all of the color from the background which I had captured. And, there you have it! At the same time I also made slight adjustments to allow the foreground to pop (as they say). All of this is very easy to do … really. If you’ve got any other questions about photo editing … just let me know. Happy to help where and when I can. D

        • Great. I gave GIMP a bit of a try, early on, and didn’t find it very intuitive .. it is open source and therefore free-of-charge! At the other end of the spectrum is Photoshop which is expensive, does absolutely everything, and can be less than intuitive starting out. I use Lightroom (also by Adobe) and have found it very, very easy to use. It also has the added benefit of being fairly inexpensive. I particularly like Lightroom because it allows for all of the basic adjustments to be made to an image (and a bit more) … without giving you free reign to go really, really, crazy. Lightroom will NOT, for example, allow you to cut the clouds out of one image and insert them, like magic, into another. It will, however, allow you to make all sortsof selective adjustments to nearly all aspects of your images. Keep in mind that although JPEG files will limit you somewhat, you’ll still be able to make great images with them … but RAW files really unleash all the potential an image has. D

  5. These are pretty interesting treatments. I’ve looked a couple of times and had a different response each time. The first reaction was kind of a Dickensian ghosts of sunflowers past. Then just appreciating the rich and detailed flowers against the desaturated background.

Respond to this post if you'd like.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: