Colorado Columbine Glamour Shot
High in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, I had a chance to really enjoy some of the state's more rugged terrain - something I'd wanted to do for a long time. At one point in Governor Basin (near Ouray), I came upon a whole mountainside of Rocky Mountain Columbines, the official Colorado state flower. And while the rugged peaks were very impressive, something told me to give the focus to the flowers. Just like a beauty queen looks her best for her glamour shot, the Colorado Columbines were looking their very best for theirs!
I captured this evening scene with some varied exposure settings but had really just planned on using a single exposure with a short depth of field to get a nice, creamy bokeh. My lens opens up to f/1.4 but I decided on f/1.8 to get a nice balance of bokeh in the background and sharp details on the flowers up front. At the time, I shot at some different apertures just because I like to keep my options open.
In reviewing the different exposures both at the time and later on, I found that I really liked the bokeh in the background. But I was concerned that the really short depth of field was limiting how much of the flowers I could get sharp. And to my eye, when I looked at the f/1.8 exposure, I didn't see enough detail in the Columbines right up front to draw the eye to them as I'd wanted. And when I got home and saw the images on the bigger screen, I felt like I'd just confirmed my suspicions.
So what did I do? I decided to primarily use the f/1.8 exposure although I gently blended in just a little bit of the details on the flowers from the f/8 exposure. To do this, I used Photoshop and a little hand-painted masking. I kept the amount I blended in very subtle to get the effect I wanted without giving any indication of having overdone it. As a final step, I added a couple more minor enhancements with Nik's Color Efex Pro.
• Camera Body - Nikon D800 Digital SLR Camera
• Camera Lens - Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G Autofocus Lens
• Tripod Head - FEISOL CB-50DC Ballhead with QP-144750 Release Plate
• Tripod Legs - FEISOL Elite CT-3472 Rapid Tripod Legs
• Remote Trigger - Vello FreeWave Micro Wireless Remote Shutter Release for Select Nikon DSLRs
Composite Image With 2 Exposures Blended In Post
Shutter Speed: 1/1600
Shutter Speed: 1/100
October 18th, 2013
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