Photography Tips & Techniques forum: Photo Challenge - Backgrounds - Ending May 31 - Win acorns!

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Sweden
Forum moderator Garden Photography Irises Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover
Hellebores Deer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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William
Feb 19, 2020 12:16 PM CST

Moderator

A good background can be as simple as a blank canvas that makes your subject stand out, or it can have something to say about the environment, light, or whatever you want really. Usually it should not overpower your main subject. Instead it should play the supporting role.
To my mind a good background is one of the key features that distinguishes a disposable snapshot from something you can be proud of and revisit again and again.

For this challenge you may post up to three of your own photos with your favorite backgrounds. You can post all at once, or one at a time. All photos need to be of garden subjects, flowers, insects, birds, fungi and so on. No humans or pets, please.
Although not mandatory, Including some details on how and why the image was shot is meriting, so is any post processing notes. All pictures must be at least 1000 pixels wide.

The price is mostly fame, but I will distribute 25, 15, and 10 acorns respectively from my personal stash on the top 3 photographers. Only one price per contender. Even if your photo doesn't win, I will highlight all images that I find exceptional, so you will still get noticed.
I will be the sole judge of this little informal contest. As such the contest is not open to me or Joshua, but all others are encouraged to come and play: Smiling

UPDATED:
Thanks to Asa's, Charlotte's and Dirt's most generous donations, the new photo prices are:

85 acorns for the winner
55 for second place
36 for third place

Example images:

Thumb of 2020-02-19/William/08038d
A plain and simple background. Orange-tip Butterfly on tulip 'Brown Sugar'.
Nikon D300 + Sigma 150 macro, ISO 200, 1/2 s, f/11, Tripod, uncropped


Thumb of 2020-02-19/William/a391d7
Sunset colors. The gradient in the background sets the mood. Muscari botryoides
Nikon D300 + Nikon 300mm f/2.8 VR+ 1.7 TC, ISO 200, 1/30 s, f/4.8, Tripod, uncropped


Thumb of 2020-02-19/William/bd393b
Bokeh. Backlight bleeding through the canopy in my garden. Iris 'Fuori dal Coro'
Nikon D300 + Nikon 300mm f/2.8 VR+ 1.7 TC, ISO 200, 1/13 s s, f/11, Tripod, uncropped

Let the fun begin!
[Last edited by William - Apr 30, 2020 8:12 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2160843 (1)
Name: Alan
Merseyside
Bookworm Container Gardener Seed Starter Spiders! Region: United Kingdom Greenhouse
Garden Photography Daylilies Cat Lover Cactus and Succulents Butterflies Photo Contest Winner 2019
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pikaia
Feb 20, 2020 4:36 AM CST
Thumb of 2020-02-20/pikaia/99a59e

This is a hoverfly on a daylily, with the flower itself providing the background. I changed the flower colour from yellow to cream to increase the contrast with the subject. It is actually produced from four images stacked to give better depth-of-field.

Canon 7Dii, Laowa 100mm lens, 1/6000sec, f6.7, ISO1600.




Thumb of 2020-02-20/pikaia/af4548

Magnolia blossom in infrared. The background is blue sky, which is rendered dark in infrared, and I used a polarising filter to darken it further.

Canon 400D converted to 590nm infrared, Tamron 18-250 lens, 1/250sec, f11, ISO1600.

Sweden
Forum moderator Garden Photography Irises Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover
Hellebores Deer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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William
Feb 20, 2020 3:06 PM CST

Moderator

Alan, many thanks for getting this challenge started. Hurray!
And what a start it is!!!
Some wonderful pictures and very interesting as well as advanced techniques being used.

Just so everyone knows, it is totally okay and in fact even encouraged to make friendly comments on the images posted. Even if you don't want to post an image yourself, you can still say something.
Knowing myself, I certainly have no plans on being silent. Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious!
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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Australis
Feb 20, 2020 6:22 PM CST

Moderator

pikaia said:Thumb of 2020-02-20/pikaia/af4548

Magnolia blossom in infrared. The background is blue sky, which is rendered dark in infrared, and I used a polarising filter to darken it further.

Canon 400D converted to 590nm infrared, Tamron 18-250 lens, 1/250sec, f11, ISO1600.


I like the atmosphere of this one. Can't quite put my finger on the word for it, though.

I'm also interested to know how you did the infrared capture. Is it just a specialised filter that fits in front of the lens?

Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
Name: Alan
Merseyside
Bookworm Container Gardener Seed Starter Spiders! Region: United Kingdom Greenhouse
Garden Photography Daylilies Cat Lover Cactus and Succulents Butterflies Photo Contest Winner 2019
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pikaia
Feb 21, 2020 3:22 AM CST
Australis said:

I'm also interested to know how you did the infrared capture. Is it just a specialised filter that fits in front of the lens?



No. The sensor in a digital camera is sensitive to IR, but the manufacturers put a filter in front of it to block the IR because it would interfere with the colour balance and exposure.

For IR photography this filter is replaced with one that transmits IR. Several kinds are available, from those which only transmit IR to those which transmit everything, including UV.

When I upgraded to my present camera I decided to have the old camera converted to IR instead of getting rid of it, so I had it fitted with a filter which transmits visible red and some of the green, besides IR. This is called a Goldie filter, because if you swap the red and blue channels foliage comes out golden yellow, while the sky comes out blue, giving a relatively natural-looking result.

https://www.google.co.uk/searc...

I also have a screw-in filter which only transmits IR. This gives monochrome images with a more extreme effect, with white foliage and dark sky, but you cannot see through the viewfinder when it is fitted.



[Last edited by pikaia - Feb 21, 2020 3:44 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2161847 (5)
Name: Joshua
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (Zone 10b)
Köppen Climate Zone Cfb
Region: Australia Bookworm Cat Lover Lilies Orchids Irises
Seed Starter Annuals Container Gardener Garden Photography Forum moderator Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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Australis
Feb 21, 2020 4:31 AM CST

Moderator

Thanks for explaining that, Alan. Most interesting. Perhaps when I get around to replacing my old point-and-shoot I'll have to see if that's even possible with it (or I can try hacking my oldest smartphone, which now acts as my alarm clock).
Plant Authorities: Catalogue of Life (Species) --- International Cultivar Registration Authorities (Cultivars) --- RHS Orchid Register --- RHS Lilium Register
My Notes: Orchid Genera HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Traits HTML PDF --- Lilium Species Crosses HTML PDF Excel --- Lilium Species Diagram
The current profile image is that of Iris 'Volcanic Glow'.
South Western South Dakota (Zone 4b)
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MommaBetty
Feb 22, 2020 4:54 PM CST

Thumb of 2020-02-22/MommaBetty/d7072a

Name: Asa
Wasatch Front - Utah
Bee Lover Garden Photography Region: Utah Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Photo Contest Winner 2019
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evermorelawnless
Feb 25, 2020 1:16 PM CST
I'll play - and I'll also match William's acorn awards to the winner - so consider the prizes doubled.

My submission is different from those so far in that the background's not so much a backdrop, but a part of the meal for the eye, too.
Thumb of 2020-02-25/evermorelawnless/fd00f2

That one worked well full-frame, but it's cropped to a 4:5 ratio for printing. Cannot find the full frame right now.

This one is not my submission for the contest, but more at the same point...the background as part of the art rather than an innocuous backdrop:
Thumb of 2020-02-25/evermorelawnless/8caae3

And I don't mean, at all, to disparage clean backgrounds. I value them and go for them often. Mostly, I wanted to provide a contrast.
This is fun: The thread "Asa's former lawn...or (better) Dirt's current gardens" in Garden Photos forum

My bee site - I post a new, different bee photo every day:
http://bees.photo
Sweden
Forum moderator Garden Photography Irises Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover
Hellebores Deer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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William
Feb 25, 2020 1:44 PM CST

Moderator

Doubling the prices, that is very generous of you, Asa. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
Of course if you win a prize, you will have to send some acorns to yourself. Hilarious! Hilarious! Hilarious!

It is true, a background does not need to be completely clean to work very well. Painterly backgrounds such as your first submission, can help to tell whatever story the image has to say (in this case about the bee in the flower). They put mood and context to the image. Anyway, I have high hopes of being surprised with the submissions in this contest!

Name: Valeria Tishchenko
Ukraine, Zaporizhzhya region (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Dragonflies Organic Gardener
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Valery33
Feb 27, 2020 5:16 AM CST
Hello! I'll take part in the same thing Smiling

Thumb of 2020-02-27/Valery33/2eae89 Thumb of 2020-02-27/Valery33/4b382a

Thumb of 2020-02-27/Valery33/44c6f4

Orthetrum brunneum, Amegilla quadrifasciata, Satyrium pruni.
Here is the most ordinary background, made with love for our smaller brothers. Smiling
Sweden
Forum moderator Garden Photography Irises Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover
Hellebores Deer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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William
Feb 27, 2020 10:16 AM CST

Moderator

So fun to see you on this forum Valeria. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!
Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
Garden Procrastinator Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: California
Cat Lover Deer Bulbs Foliage Fan Annuals Seed Starter
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evelyninthegarden
Feb 27, 2020 12:18 PM CST
William said:So fun to see you on this forum Valeria. Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!


I agree

I don't have a fancy camera, just a "point and shoot" Canon Power Shot. But I do appreciate the work you all put into photographing nature as moving objects are a challenge to capture. I just love the macros!

Valeria ~ I am not a judge, but you have my vote anyway. I appreciate your skills in photography. Lovey dubby
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Sweden
Forum moderator Garden Photography Irises Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover
Hellebores Deer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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William
Feb 27, 2020 4:59 PM CST

Moderator

Evelyn, I would love to see contributions from "point and shoot" cameras or smartphones. Some of the best macros I have ever seen wasn't from what you might call a "fancy" camera, but they were truly artistic. When there is time and love invested in a photograph, it usually shows, whatever camera was used. So no one should let their camera stop them from entering this photo challenge.

A smartphone is more limiting when it comes to creating smooth, creamy backgrounds, but out of focus background are not a requirement for this photo challenge. Habitat views can be wonderful. Or you can use artificial backdrops. Or maybe you will create something great in Photoshop. There are no limits, but please keep in mind that exif and post processing notes will give extra points when I judge this. The reason for this is that I want us all to learn from each other. To accomplish that it helps to know some about how the photo was taken. Smiling

Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Fleur569
Feb 27, 2020 6:03 PM CST
It has taken me a while to dig up the specific intentionally used background I've used occasionally, so that I could share a simple idea with you; as for the most part I use whatever nature has available. However, below are three examples of photography using a frosted window pane, facing North, natural light, done on a tripod with my Nikon D90 camera. The effects are all different depending on the type of light provided from the outside. Of course no flash is used. On these photos the settings were set on automatic, as the camera has a pretty good synchronization. The backgrounds seem to have picked up the reflections of the greenery on the outside of the house. The first one of the fern was done in winter, with no greenery in bloom on the outside of the glass. The 2nd was on a cloudy day, and the 3rd has reflections of greenery from the outside. Same window, different effects. So a simple frosted window pane can serve as a good backdrop.




Thumb of 2020-02-27/Fleur569/c99c45


Thumb of 2020-02-27/Fleur569/2b1968

[Last edited by Fleur569 - Feb 27, 2020 9:04 PM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #2165914 (14)
Name: Asa
Wasatch Front - Utah
Bee Lover Garden Photography Region: Utah Garden Ideas: Master Level Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Photo Contest Winner 2019
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evermorelawnless
Feb 27, 2020 7:59 PM CST
I'm liking this lots. Great submissions and wonderful idea, William!

Thank you.
This is fun: The thread "Asa's former lawn...or (better) Dirt's current gardens" in Garden Photos forum

My bee site - I post a new, different bee photo every day:
http://bees.photo
Sweden
Forum moderator Garden Photography Irises Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover
Hellebores Deer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016
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William
Feb 28, 2020 2:30 PM CST

Moderator

Thank you, Asa Smiling
I agree, we have some superb submissions already. Can't wait to see what the next will be!

Fleur, thank you for coming and playing with us. I know how passionate you are about photography. Love the use of the frosted window panes. Lovey dubby
Name: Valeria Tishchenko
Ukraine, Zaporizhzhya region (Zone 6a)
Cat Lover Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Dragonflies Organic Gardener
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Valery33
Feb 29, 2020 4:22 AM CST
evelyninthegarden said:
I don't have a fancy camera, just a "point and shoot" Canon Power Shot. But I do appreciate the work you all put into photographing nature as moving objects are a challenge to capture. I just love the macros!



I have had a Canon Power Shot for many years. This is a wonderful camera with which you could shoot butterflies and flowers equally well. He is a "workhorse", he does everything well))) I am glad that you have the same camera! Hurray!
Name: Evelyn
Sierra foothills, Northern CA (Zone 8a)
Garden Procrastinator Irises Bee Lover Butterflies Plant and/or Seed Trader Region: California
Cat Lover Deer Bulbs Foliage Fan Annuals Seed Starter
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evelyninthegarden
Feb 29, 2020 11:42 AM CST
Valeria ~ Thank You!

I guess I will have to start taking my camera out to the garden more often, instead of relying on my cellphone in my pocket. *Blush*
"Luck favors the prepared mind." - Thomas Jefferson
Name: Dirt
(Zone 5b)
Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Region: Utah Bee Lover Garden Photography Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2016 Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Photo Contest Winner 2018 Photo Contest Winner 2019
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dirtdorphins
Feb 29, 2020 2:34 PM CST
Hmmm....
I'm terrible at exercising any sort of control over the backgrounds, yet I am attempting to be more mindful of them, generally...

here is one that I think is kind of cool because of the color echo of the mini-roses in the background and the shape echo of the second lily
Thumb of 2020-02-29/dirtdorphins/67b073
hopin' it achieves some sort of painterly quality with the bokeh...

I wasn't liking the stalks in the back-background, so I tried to take the one out on the left Shrug!
compare to

Pentax K-1, smc PENTAX-F 70-210mm at 210mm, 1/180 seconds, F 5.60, ISO 280
cropped a bit off the left side and the top, had no more room at the bottom


Texas (Zone 8a)
Passionate about Native Plants
Region: Texas Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography
Salvias Butterflies Critters Allowed Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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GrammaChar
Mar 5, 2020 12:31 AM CST
Thank you for starting this thread, William. It's an interesting subject, and the posts are informative. I was persuaded to go back and look through my photo files while paying close attention to "Backgrounds". The conclusion I came to is that I don't really have any! Because my personal goal is to highlight a flower or butterfly or a bug, backgrounds usually get intentionally obscured with an F-stop of 5.6. I'm not unaware of what's behind a subject and try hard to get an uncluttered angle, but the added benefit of a good background is simply a happy accident. For that reason, I feel woefully unqualified to participate in this contest. However, I look forward to learning from others that share their information here.

To prove my point, here are a couple of today's Iceland Poppies.

Thumb of 2020-03-05/GrammaChar/c74b61

Thumb of 2020-03-05/GrammaChar/eec530

See? No backgrounds.

However, this is an example of what I consider to be a happy accident.

Thumb of 2020-03-05/GrammaChar/0ed109

And occasionally the background can provide a clue about habitat, so I don't blur it.

Thumb of 2020-03-05/GrammaChar/1aa628

But sometimes just basic black works for me.

Thumb of 2020-03-05/GrammaChar/d989fb

There are so many incredibly talented photographers on this forum, and seeing their work is a pleasure. I look forward to viewing many more.

Meanwhile, I'll pay more attention to backgrounds in the future.



GrammaChar

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