African Violet Photography
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 ~~Exposure:  Light Source~~ 
     Light  is the very basis of exposure and it's qualities change with every fleeting movement of the sun, curtains, or the photographer's shadow.  Two of the most important qualities of light are intensity and color.
     Intensity is simply the strength of available light.  It may be soft because of the time of day or season:  a weak winter sun will give soft light.  It may be soft because of distance from the light source:  light filtered by sheer curtains will give soft edges and lower contrast between the shadows and highlights.  Summer midday sun outdoors on a deck will be stronger and will give sharper edges and more contrast between the light and dark areas of the subject.
     Color of light will also change.  Winter sun is often cooler in color.  Evening sunshine is warm and gives a orangish cast to all it illuminates.  A normal household light bulb will give a yellow cast to a room, while a flash burst of light is meant to simulate sunshine.  Light's color is subtle and is best seen in shadow areas.  Also check any white areas in a photo to see any off color tendencies.

    Intensity of light is very important and is a very creative tool to include in your camera bag.  Variations in field of focus, contrast, and exposure length can give us headaches, or enable us to create beautiful photos.  In the following lessons, intensity of the light source will be used to manipulate our exposures.
 

This photo was taken in a low light situation, far from a south window.  The low light required a long exposure time and the photo is a bit blurry because of camera shake, or should I say: photographer's shake.
This small bit of fuzziness is subtle and could be overlooked on the preview screen or on a small image file on a computer monitor.  Watch for it.
Compare this photo to the one above.  You will notice an obvious increase in sharpness.
This photo was taken close to the south window and there was ample light to allow a short exposure time.  This high light condition will also give a larger field of focus (see below).
This plant was six feet from the window and if more light is needed, could be moved closer for even more light upon the subject.

      Color of light plays a more important role in our final photos than is at first apparent.  In a previous lesson, we covered camera settings to match the light source.  But within each type of light, there will be variations of color to be aware of.
 

This photo was taken quite some distance from the south window and there was not enough light to allow a deep field of focus, and the nearest blossom on the right is out of focus and blurry.  Please note that the color is also incorrect;  there is an overall blue cast often seen in natural light shadows.  The effect is intensified due to a blue color of the walls.
The plant was moved nearer the window and into direct sunlight.  The greater amount of light increased the field of focus and now the blossoms and the nearest leaf are in focus.  Here too the color is incorrect;  direct sunshine will add a slight yellow cast.

     While we are on the subject of light source, I wish to mention that this area is one where each person will find the most creative personal expression.  The final 'feel' or atmosphere of the photo is determined by light.
     One example is direction of light.  As we place our plants in just the right place to take their photo, and decide just how we wish the final photo to look, we often overlook the effect light direction has.  Remember that simply setting a pencil under one side of the pot so that the upward facing head of bloom is facing the camera will give a great photo.  Going one step farther and using the light to 'model', display, and enhance the plant  will make an even better one.
     Flat lighting, or lighting that is coming from behind the photographer will make exposure easier, and bright light coming from one side will create dark shadows and light highlights that are difficult to record correctly.  But a photo that shows the wonder of delicate blossoms rising above sturdy foliage is a grand thing to see!  I must admit that I am still struggling to apply this principle to my AV photography.
 


The light striking the blossoms in this photo is from the far right... at a very low angle.  The light is catching the lighter undersides of the blossoms and not shining on the faces of some blossoms.  I would call this a bit 'confusing'.

Here the plant and the camera were turned a bit to allow the light to come a bit more from the front.... the plant was lowered about a foot so that the angle of light is also higher.  Another tip:  three blossoms were arranged so that their faces are showing!

Again, the plant and camera were turned.  The light is still obviously from the left but a bit higher and a bit more toward the photographer's shoulder.  Notice several of the blossoms slipped back into their natural position, showing the lighter back color.

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