Tulips at Boston Public Garden

The tulips at Boston Public Garden. are an annual rite of spring.  They are fun to photograph and I wanted to share some techniques with you.

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This first image was shot at 7am on a Saturday morning.  Early morning may be the only time when the garden isn’t swarming with people.  To visually compress the distance, I used a 200mm lens.

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This next image is different for several reasons.  Of course, this is a closer view.  Using a 100mm macro lens at an aperture of f/7, the depth of field is shallow.  I chose to fill the frame with flowers and exclude the surrounding environment.  Also note that the light is very different.  I shot this image after 6pm with the evening sun directly shining on the flowers from the side.

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Getting even closer, the image becomes more abstract.  The image is about color and texture; the concept of “tulip” begins to disappear.  I specifically chose to use an evergreen shrub for the background, knowing it would fall away to black because this side of the shrub is in shadow.  (You can dimly see a green tulip stem rising along the left side of the image.)

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Taking a step back, not as close as the previous image, this is more obviously a tulip.  Still working with the dark background, I’ve repositioned myself to achieve back-lighting from the setting sun.

Additionally, I chose to break a couple photography “rules”. Intentionally photographing through a foreground tulip creates a highlight in the bottom left.  It was a gamble that I think paid off quite well.  A viewer will naturally be drawn to the lower highlight and the upper highlight. After bouncing back and forth a few times, you eventually find the beautiful color and texture in between.  I find that my mind dwells on this image longer than the others.

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A combination of backlighting, dark background, and close-up abstract shape.

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Upon thinking “how can I look at this subject with a different perspective?”  I finished up the evening by looking down on the flowers from a steep angle, as the sun was soon to fall behind the buildings of Boston.  I chose a more narrow aperture here, f 16, because I wanted to hold some depth of focus from foreground to background.  And because a smaller aperture means less light entering the camera, I increased the ISO. Aperture priority, f/16, 1/160 sec, ISO 800, 100mm macro lens.

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