Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Sunflowers in the spotlight

Oh dear, has it really been four weeks since my last post? Sorry...I have excuses, but I won't bore you with them. I do have some new photos I want to share, and they follow on nicely from my last post about sunflowers.

Last month, two of my cousins from Canada came to London for their first visit to Europe. It was lovely to see them - the last time I saw them was several years ago when I did a two-week tour of Canada to see friends and family (and the polar bears). One of them is really into photography and wanted to take photos of London at night, so one balmy evening, we had a wonderful night out in the city. We went for dinner at Swan at Shakepeare's Globe (where she was bemused by the British thing of standing around in a pub for hours), walked along the river (where she was bemused by the British thing of standing around outside with a pint when it's warm outside), and went for cocktails/mocktails and much giggling at the OXO Tower. I don't have any decent photos, partly because I feel self-conscious taking photos in restaurants, but I did sketch our drinks the next day for #DrawingAugust.

My cousin took lots of good photographs, and I took a few dodgy ones:

I've not really taken "proper" photographs at night, except when I tried to get a decent shot of the supermoon.

I had some homegrown sunflowers and zinnias which started off like this (along with the biggest dahlias I've grown)...

...but as they died, I thought I would try to get a cinematic-looking photo of them in the dark. In Vic Brotherson's beautiful book, Vintage Flowers, she includes a photo of faded flowers that she'd forgotten about. I thought it was a lovely idea. But my dying sunflowers and zinnias would need something a bit more thoughtful than a quick camera-phone shot to look beautiful!

So I set up a camera on a tripod at night, used two different torches, and sometimes used a tissue over the torch to get a slightly less harsh spotlight. The ISO was 200 and the aperture was f/1.2, but the shutter speed varied. It was very slow though. I found it hard to focus using auto-focus, so I manually focused - but unfortunately, my eyes weren't sharp enough to notice that the sunflower on the left wasn't in focus a lot of the time. Anyhow, as a first attempt, I'm quite pleased with them. And it was fun playing about with different shadows. I like how the shadow of the sunflower on the right is so sharp and detailed compared to the blurry flowerhead.

I often forget to take photos of my new flowers, but now I can try to find beauty in my spent ones.