by Peter Menard
(North Bay, Ontario, Canada)
Walking the dog about 9:15 at night I passed a planter with pansies in it not much larger than a quarter.
I set my little Fuji on macro & used the timer to get this shot. A little boost in contrast & saturation plus some sharpening got this picture.
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I often receive submissions of flowers. It's easy to see why – they're bright and colourful, so why wouldn't they make an attractive photo?
Peter's pansies look great. But as this is the photography tutor section of the site, lets delve a little deeper to see what exactly makes it a good photo.
First of all Peter tells us that he chose the macro setting on his camera – good choice!
The macro setting will not only allow you to focus closely on your subject, but it also throws the background out of focus. This helps to focus the viewer's attention. If you don't have a macro setting a similar effect can be had using a wide aperture (click to read more about creative use of the aperture to control depth of field).
Other aspects of Peter's photo that are good is his use of post processing.
I have talked before about post processing. It's not cheating. It's simply using software to enhance photos where, in days gone by, we used darkroom techniques to deliver the same effects.
Peter says he boosted the contrast and saturation a little. Spot on!
Simply by increasing the levels of contrast, and then saturation you can add much more vibrancy to a photo.
Many cameras have settings built in to them to do this for you (it's often called 'vivid') – but I would avoid them if you can.
The reason is that in-camera settings you have no control over, with software you do. And even the most basic software will be able to adjust contrast and saturation.
The other part of Peter's photo that works well relates to the time of day. Peter says he took this photo at about 9.15 in the evening. Great time of day!
This would have been about 45 minutes from sundown, and is in the time photographers call the 'golden hour'. This is a period just after sunrise, and just before sunset when the light is soft and saturated.
(Click to read more digital photography tips, including more on the golden hour)
Take this photo in the middle of the day and there will be lots of harsh shadows to deal with.
Thanks Peter for submitting this photo, and I hope by shedding a little light on why it's good will be helpful to others.
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Return to Digital photography tutorials - submissions, May 2008.