My youngest daughter (who is a very accomplished photographer) and I just took off for a five hour ride into the countryside. Through the valley and the rolling hills, past the still barren grape vines and old gnarly walnut orchards, and finally up over a rise until we came upon what can only be described as a sea of pink and white. It’s almond blossom time and it was just what I needed to get the camera out and ready to go take pictures.
Recently I had been reading up on various filters that photographers use to create these special shots. One (and one which so many photo enthusiasts forget about when creating a photo bag) is the “Neutral Density” filter. As with so many filters, there are so many grades and sizes (differing in as many ways as there are different lens a photographer can use). I had to pick one to experiment with so I picked a mid-range ND 4X (each “X” reduces the f-stop on your lens so less light comes through the lens allowing for a longer exposure time and a different effect in the photo. It’s too long to explain here, but trust me… if you’re using a DSLR, you should look into getting at least one Neutral Density filter for your camera… pick the lens you use the most).
Here are just a couple of shots I took today. Over the next couple of weeks the intensity of the blossoms will only grow larger as more blooms burst open. I’ll add a comparison photo later so you can see the difference. Today was a very bright sunny day with only a few wispy thin clouds. Next time I hope to have those thunder-heads that I like to photograph in the picture to bring more interest and form. Spring is a great time to get out and start shooting.
The first photo was facing north by north west. I was using a Pentax 28-105 mm telephoto lens and shot at 1/30 sec at f 4.5 at 68mm (that's 102mm at 35mm film). I did use flash, spot meter,auto exposure, and an ISO at 100. I used my new Neutral Density filter 4X, along with a UV(O) filter and a Circular Polarization filter (PL-CIR). Considering the density of the lens and the polorization filter, I really had to shoot at a longer time length even though it was a very bright sunny day. (It would have been easier if the wind had cooperated... however, the shot came out well in spite of the movement.
The second shot (of the almond orchard) was facing south (this was about 9 a.m.) and into the direction of the sun. Again I had all the filters on the camera. Facing the sun did make the shot a little more challanging. I shot again at 1/30 of a second (do to the filters), and at f 6.7. Auto mode, ISO 100. The lens was wide open at 28mm (42mm for those familiar with 35mm film). No flash this time as it would have taken a lot of flash to compensate for the back lighting of the sun (LOL)... Spot metering is the only way to go with that many filters. It was fun trying out new equipment and trying to get different effects. After I got home I was able to take the orchard photo and expariment with PhotoShop and this was the result... Ah, so much to shoot, so little time to play.