So I’ve had this photograph sitting in my digital files for about 18 months now. I worked with it several times in Lightroom last year, but couldn’t get an end result I could settle on. One of the biggest challenges has been to somehow make the background less dominating, especially the sky area at 10 o’clock to the sun star and left flower. Though the background was mostly shadows and very dark greens, the Magnolia flowers didn’t stand out even though it was backlit. I finally took a quick look to see how this photo might look in black and white. There were possibilities.
With a B&W photograph now in mind, I exported to Silver EFex Pro and began playing with the presets and then applying color filters. The color filters created one effect I was hoping for, pixelating the bright sky in the background and bringing the focus of the photo just a little bit back to the flowers. While it’s still not a great composition, it’s one I can live with for the time being.
Technically, about the only thing I did right was to shoot wide open (using a low f/stop) and blurring the background. Again, I had some random ISO 720 setting, for no apparent reason other than I had no idea what I was doing, that introduced more graininess into the photo than necessary.
EXIF data: Nikon D50, patterned metering mode, 22mm, ISO 720, 1/4000 sec, f/3.8
Magnolias, Sun Star, B&W. Golden Gate Park Botanical Garden, San Francisco, California. March 19, 2010. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.