Driving California country roads in March and April, it soon becomes abundantly clear why the golden poppy is California's state flower. Each spring gold and yellow gems saturate sunny slopes from the Sierra foothills to the rugged coast, sometimes reigning over a kaleidoscope of other wildflowers, other times standing on their own.
I found these poppies in Big Sur, halfway up a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Rather than simply compose them in isolation, I looked around for a suitable background and decided this solitary oak would do the trick. To properly juxtapose the poppies and oak I dropped to the ground and shot up the hill; I chose a telephoto to compress their relative distance. An extension tube allowed me to focus close enough to more completely fill the frame with the poppies. The close focus point also gave me the limited depth of field I need to blur the oak close-to but not beyond the threshold of recognition. I was very careful to frame the poppies beneath the oak's arching branch without merging them.
Images like this illustrate why I think the predicted demise of still photography isn't as imminent as video proponents (or paranoid photographers) think. While I do believe it won't be long before we'll be able to make large prints from individual HD video frames, I think there will always be a place for the still photographer who can manage the front-to-back world.
Anybody with a video camera can plant themselves in one location and pan to capture a two dimensional (left/right, up/down) scene where each subject is at infinity. But when you have multiple subjects along the front-to-back plane, you've added a third dimension and a two-dimensional pan no longer renders every possible composition. In a three dimensional scene, even a slight move up, down, left, or right completely alters the image by changing the relationship of the elements. Add in the infinite focus options for your front-to-back plane (where to place the point of focus, and the depth of focus on either side) and the possibilities become infinite.
In other words, even though your output medium (monitor, printer, etc.) is two dimensions, the more you include the third (front-to-back) dimension in your input (capture), the greater the likelihood you'll create something uniquely yours.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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