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Poppies, Merced River Canyon, California

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 10 January 2010 in Plant & Nature and Portfolio.

One of my favorite pastimes for a sunny (lousy light) day is going through old images. So a few days ago I was perusing my archives when I came across this 6-year old poppy image that I have absolutely no memory of taking.

Discovering these unmined gems is like finding a $20 bill in the pocket of a jacket you haven't worn for years. We are constantly growing as photographers (right?), so what didn't catch your eye originally may just turn out to be special to your new and improved photographic vision.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile (and maybe even if you haven't) you probably know the role the quality of light plays in photography. It may be the single most important element of a successful image--without the right light (however you choose to define "right"), even the most beautiful scene becomes a merely ordinary photograph; with the right light, the most ordinary subjects come to life.

Compare today's image with my previous post. Both are intimate views of poppies with startlingly different results. In the earlier image brilliant midday light evokes uplifting emotions of a dazzling spring afternoon; in today's image muted, end of day light creates feelings of brooding introspection. I'm sure in a vote for "favorite," both images would be well represented. In fact, I suspect many people's opinions would change with their moods.

Every time you click your shutter you have the power to move somebody with your creation. The difficult trick is harnessing that power, something that requires an intangible synergy of logic (such as planning and camera settings) and emotion (such as your feel for the scene and your sense for visual balance). Sometimes you don't know what you've captured until return home; and sometimes you don't know for years.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Dulcie from Danville, CA, United States

A very thoughtful discussion today of light and emotions in photography.
This poppy appeals to my heart, especially the delicate overlapping petals !!

10 Jan 2010 7:45am

Stefan from Thiersee, Austria

Just beautiful capture, great!

10 Jan 2010 8:59am

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

Great Gary, this is another 5* photo for me !!! Have a nice sunday :)

10 Jan 2010 9:03am

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

Is this the low key version? as beautiful as the clearest version!

10 Jan 2010 9:15am

Vitor Martins from Lisboa, Portugal

Superbe, the composition light and colors are amaizing. Very beautiful.

10 Jan 2010 10:13am

Elora from Genoa, Italy

This is a true gem that you found Gary! Thanks for sharing your insight, as always :)

10 Jan 2010 11:24am

Michael from Shell Village, United Kingdom

Hi Gary, having seen both images I have to say that I prefer this one. Yesterdays was young, bright and fresh, but this one is subtle, deeper and more refined.

10 Jan 2010 2:08pm

Julie from Easton, United States

Very beautiful image, I really like both of the photos although I would have to say that the other does catch my eye a bit more!

10 Jan 2010 4:14pm

Self-Indulgence from Chicagoland, United States

Excellent DOF and Illumination, the poppies just glow. Maybe a hint of their magic :) The last one was really nice but I think I prefer this one because the richness of color, the dark offsetting the fiery flowers.

10 Jan 2010 4:49pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Absolutely exquisite. I love its simplicity. The out of focus poppies in the background is very nice.

10 Jan 2010 11:43pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

oh lovely light and DOF to highlight the flower! it just seems to be glowing in the dark here - wonderful!

11 Jan 2010 3:53am

✿ Anina ✿ from Auckland, New Zealand

Beautiful shot! I love the tones and lighting. So true what you've said. To me personally lighting is the most challenging and interesting part of photography.

11 Jan 2010 7:36am

Babzy from Besançon, France

wow , so lovely !!!

11 Jan 2010 7:55am

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

This is so warm and relaxing to me! I have the feeling of just enjoying the warmth of a late summer day!

11 Jan 2010 5:33pm

Donna from United States

Just received your book for Christmas from a mutual friend of yous. It is a GREAT book! I knew you were good but I just didn't know how good. Keep up the good work.

11 Jan 2010 7:48pm

@Donna: Thanks, Donna, I'm glad you enjoy the book.

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

Can't wait for spring to play on flowers with my camera!!!

11 Jan 2010 9:11pm

dkc from Xanthi, Greece

I believe that this one is slightly better than the previous with the strong lighting. I love the colors here and the beautiful soft light inside the flower...but still both are gorgeous...

12 Jan 2010 2:21pm

Ray Middleton from United Kingdom

I have just perused your portfolio and I simply enjoyed your style of photography.

13 Jan 2010 4:40pm

@Ray Middleton: Thanks, Ray.

larans from Lund, Sweden

Wonderful pictures of these flowers and an interesting discussion about light.

19 Jan 2010 12:23pm

Singapore Corporate Photography from Singapore, Singapore

Beautiful Photograph! The vibrant yet warm color is gorgeous.

22 Jan 2010 8:05am

Marie from FRESNES, France

superbe lumière, et très belle composition.

22 Jan 2010 4:53pm

Nyx Robey from Berkeley, United States

wow. Nice postprocessing/lighting. It looks like our golden poppy is glowing!

27 Jan 2010 12:17am