Image of the Week

Image of the Week

Faded Yellow – Flower Photography

Image Considerations

I found this beautiful faded yellow flower along one of the walking paths around Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento. There are many beautiful flowers in the park, but I have managed to never notice these before. I spotted them on an afternoon walk, unfortunately without my camera. Seeing they were in near perfect bloom, I wanted to capture them while they were still in good shape.

I returned early the next morning with camera and tripod, but unfortunately, I managed to not bring my extension tubes to capture macros of these beautiful faded yellow flowers. Although the morning light was good, there was a fairly steady breeze blowing. This breeze forced me to make decisions about how to capture the flowers properly.

Image Lighting

The early morning light was good for the color of these flowers by not being too harsh, but with the angle of the sun, there were shadows to account for as I worked to capture the flower. I also had to contend with the breeze blowing the flowers around.

At one level, the breeze created issues with the capture just in how it was blowing the flowers around. I had an almost as challenging issue with the breeze though, with other flowers and leaves moving around, creating unexpected shadows. I had to adapt to both the flower movement and sudden shadows.

Camera and Settings

I shot this with my Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 28-135 IS USM lens mounted on a tripod. Even without the breeze, I would have used a tripod for this capture. In this case though, I needed to truly be sure the camera did not move, so when the flower came to rest for a moment, I could be ready to shoot.

With the early morning sun and the flowers moving, I wanted to be sure my shutter speed was high enough to eliminate any appearance of movement in the capture. I also wanted a deeper DOF so the image would have the full center of the flower as crisp as possible. I decided that an aperture of f/18 ensured the DOF I wanted, but this also forced me to increase my ISO to get the faster shutter speed I needed. Trying a few test shots, I settled on ISO 1,000 to get to a 1/400th shutter speed. This eliminated any motion blur in the image.

The only other issue became the random shadows due to the breeze blowing other flowers and leaves into the shot. I decided to go with a maximum frame rate, and shoot several frames at a time, hoping there would be a frame that would have a good balance of light and shadow. With everything in motion, this was the only decent solution.

I had to reduce the exposure bias to compensate for the bright white of the flower petals. Finding the right balance to not initially overexpose them was part of taking test shots.

  • 115mm focal length
  • f/18 aperture
  • 1/400th second exposure
  • -0.7 exposure bias
  • 1,000 ISO

Editing Inspiration

I wanted this image to be part of a current theme I have been working on, where the post processing allows the image to be slightly overexposed. Using a light vignette, the image somewhat fades away to white around the edges. In this image, I wanted the center color to be a faded yellow, with the surrounding white fading to a near overexposure. The other key aspect I wanted was the appearance of enough details in the center, and around the center was to be softer. The further from the center, the fewer details would be visible.

I think the effect was achieved fairly well. I used a combination of radial tools in Nik and Lightroom to isolate the inner and outer areas to add and subtract details as needed. This is also how I worked with the saturation levels.

I am very please with how this image turned out. I also did a monochrome version. After looking at the two for a period of time, the color version was the clear winner. A truly beautiful faded yellow flower.

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