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IN THE FIELD: Monday Afternoon Delights

In my previous post, I mentioned how happy we are that the Limelight Hydrangea we have been monitoring throughout this hot summer, is doing much better since the recent rains.

This post is a follow up. The photo I used in the previous post was taken from the front lawn looking towards the road, in the early morning. The photos in today’s post are the view taken from the street side looking towards the lawn, one shot in the early morning and one mid-afternoon. Same shrub, different view and time of day.

I wanted to illustrate how scouting a location at various times of the day can make a difference in your photographs. The difference can be not only with subject matter or compositions, but the light, or lack of light.

In the first photo, the trees in the background are lit by the early morning sun and the Hydrangea bush is in light shade. The white blooms got lost in the bright background.

First photo  was shot at 8:35am, f5 @1/60th, ISO 200.

The second photo was taken six hours later. Now the background trees are in the shade and the Hydrangea bush is in dappled sun. The bright blooms show up better against the subdued surroundings.

Second photo  was shot 2:30pm, f4.5 @1/640th, ISO 200.

Technically, neither photo is right or wrong. In my opinion, the second photo is more pleasing to my eye. There is more contrast between the blooms and the background, and the dappled light on the bush adds interest.

To me, part of the art of photography is a waiting game. It’s not always possible, but when you can wait for better light, it can be rewarding.


  1. August 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

    I’m not the best at waiting but time and lighting can make such big differences as shown here. What’s the little purple guy down at the bottom there?

  2. August 15, 2012 at 9:04 am

    Great post, David. I agree with you about scouting locations to check out lighting. I do that all the time when I am shooting things other than my birds. With them I usually don’t have much choice.

    • August 15, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Scenes can change so much over the course of a day, it really does pay to scout as you said. I can imagine trying to give directions to a bird would be difficult at best….turn a little this way, no move over here, come back this afternoon etc…

  3. August 15, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Yes it is hard to be patient…I’m guilty of that too. The little guy at the bottom is a small branch of a Caryopteris shrub. Great plant, easy to grow in any soil, interesting scented leaves…sweet but not too sweet, and pretty dainty flowers this time of year that last a long time! Head to you local garden center, find one and rub your fingers on the leaves, and then smell. Nice!

  4. August 15, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I love both photos they have such different qualities and I think neither is unpleasant as a photo.. sure the colours of the hydrangea in the second are so much more prominent… yet the first has a wonderful quality to it.. I love to photo birds as you undoubtedly have seen from my blog and time and lighting to get the perfect photo is a hit and miss thing… I sit early morning on the stoep (veranda) what ever you call it and the sun-birds are not four metres away from me.. the problem is the stoep faces East so a shot is impossible and I think the birds know it as they’re never there in the afternoon… patience for the shot of a bird is not as big a factor as luck… but your photos both of them to me are magnificent… love that you give the camera settings I always find that interesting…

    • August 15, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      Wow thanks for the great comment Rob, I can imagine it is difficult to photograph birds. I think they know when a lens is trained on them so they fly away to frustrate us! I just started posting the settings…I realize every situation is different, but I thought it would be fun to add them.

  5. tedgriffith
    August 15, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    It is so true how much difference there can be in lighting. I often don’t have the time to wait for better lighting, so I try and make the best of what I am presented with. Thanks for great post! 🙂

    • August 15, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Truer words were never spoken Most often we have to make do with what we were dealt with when it comes to photography/time available.

  6. August 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    This is great post, how makes different the moments… Thank you dear David, you are amazing. Love, nia

    • August 15, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      Glad you found this interesting Nia. When I was taking the photo for Monday morning’s post I couldn’t get the shot I wanted because the sun was so bright on the background trees. I was a half hour late. My wife came up with the idea of showing the light at different times of the day. Which in turn gave me an idea for a future post!

  7. August 15, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Wow, what a difference! Second picture is by far easiest on the eye absolutely gorgeous!

    • August 15, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks Anne, credit goes to my wife for the idea to show both times of the day! I like the second one also. The first is rather harsh.

  8. August 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    So true, just to observe by changing my perspective by circling the object makes such a difference. And changing the time when you shoot. Very important points, David, they can’t be stressed enough.

    • August 16, 2012 at 8:20 am

      Vey true…just changing position can make all the difference in the world…getting down low or up high, vertical vs. horizontal or even angled compositions etc. Mixing it up keeps things fresh and fun.

  9. Jo Woolf
    August 16, 2012 at 1:39 am

    I actually love the cool shady green and ivory colours of the flowers in the first photo! But I do see what you mean about the background and I agree that the second photo shows the plant off much better. Very interesting!

  10. August 16, 2012 at 8:27 am

    This was difficult to pick a favorite because like you, I like different parts of each one. If I had taken the photo at 7:00am everything would have been in the shade and and we would have a third choice! Although in that situation, it’s hard to get the whites white without over exposing the dark greens. It’s a tough subject/composition/exposure. Pretty though.

  11. August 16, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Both have their own great qualities. It’s interesting and challenging to work with the lighting and weather, etc. to your advantage. I’m partial to the first photo because of the softness of the blooms. Great shots!

  12. August 17, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Light certainly makes a big difference! I also prefer the second photo.

    • August 17, 2012 at 8:55 am

      It sure does…in this instance the morning light was very cool and late afternoon it warms up a bit and the color of the blooms and leaves change. If been trying to master photographing these plants for five years now LOL.

  13. August 17, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Thanks Fergie, this is a challenging subject to get a proper exposure due to the white blooms and the dark leaves…our eyes see it correctly but the camera renders it differently without a bunch of post processing. These are straight out of the camera.

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