African Violet Photography
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 ~~Only Two Things To Worry About...~~ 
     What is a good photograph?  A good photograph will record a feeling or a moment in time.  Record for whom?  Photographs are treasured as dearly as a sweet memory by ourselves... and are a very effective way to share feelings or moments with others.
     Photographs are not necessary to human life; instead they are an enrichment.  Creative or practical, simple or complicated; photographs benefit everyone who snaps, sends, views, and receives them.
     First and foremost, a photograph must represent something: an object or scene, an emotion or message.  In other words, it must "say" what it is supposed to "say".  The old gradeschool trick of a piece of white paper representing a polar bear in a snowstorm reminds us all that a good photograph should not require words to explain what it is 'supposed to be'!
     In African violet photography, we usually wish to represent 'beauty'---although I have seen great photos that were ugly!  A recently posted photo of soil mix containing bug eggs made my skin crawl---but that was the point!
     There are a few basic principles of composing photos that are used by photographers and artists.  Just being aware that how we place objects, or plants, within our photographs may be good OR bad will make us think before we press the shutter.
     To demonstrate how simple the "rules" are, is the photo on the left.  Everyone will see that the photo should have been taken from the side of the plant that would display the blossoms to best advantage as well as hiding the ugly neck, and that the main subject should have been closer to the center of the photograph.  See how easy it is to keep your Critical Eye open?
     I have included several pages from photograhy books... right click on the following links and select "Open in a new window....".  The pages will download while you continue reading these lessons.      "Compositional rules"  play an important role in influencing how people view our photos---but these two simple things are the most important of all:  FOCUS and EXPOSURE.  Great subjects go unnoticed if they are out of focus.  Wonderful and correct color of petals will not be represented if the blossoms are nearly white or black because of poor exposure.
      Focus and exposure are the hardest to achieve easily, yet are the two areas photographers should work the hardest to apply correctly.
      You are probably saying: "But my camera does all that for me, automatically."  Yes, I let my camera automatically do it for me too, most of the time.  But remember our African violet photos are not the average photo... and I think we all have taken photos where the focus and/or exposure was not 'just right'. 
       (Click on the following photos to view them a bit larger, if desired.)
This was cropped from a photo that is typical of many we all take.  Notice the detail in the towel beneath the plant, and the lack of detail in the blossoms.
This is a focus problem, and is a direct result of not understanding or using  field of focus properly.  This will be covered in the next lesson.
This photo was not taken with automatic exposure settings and is exactly the opposite of what would happen using automatic settings.  I wished to emphasize the tiny flecks of reflection on the petal, and used a spot meter to  expose the photo.  The result is so dark that most of the blossom edges are lost completely.

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