Today’s Tip – Let the Light Work

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Madia elegans, Elegant tarweed, yellow flowering wildflower California native plant at Los Angeles Natural History Museum

A streak of sunlight can be a beacon, calling a photographer to action.  In an early morning shoot, here at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, a sunbeam broke from between trees and cast a bright light across the pollinator garden, spotlighting a native sunflower, Madia elegans.

A bright streak can be a real problem, it can be harsh and contrasty light, often forcing the camera to make a difficult exposure choice between sun and shade. I have learned to see opportunities in those streaks though, because they offer a narrow window for backlight where you can set the camera up in shade and point back toward the sun, often getting rim light around the edges of things or luminescent light through flowers or foliage.

So I looked for an opportunity to isolate the Madia that was glowing in the flower border.

Sun flare, lens flare in California native plant pollinator garden at Los Angeles Natural History Museum

Ahh, watch out for the lens flare.

I was not able to set the camera in shade to get the best back light on the flower, so flare was going to be a problem.  But once I came in a lot closer with a telephoto lens, and used my hand to shade the lens:

Madia elegans, Elegant tarweed, yellow flowering wildflower California native plant at Los Angeles Natural History Museum
Madia elegans, Elegant tarweed, yellow flowering wildflower California native plant at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

Now I am letting the light work for me.  I am taking what it gives me.  Not a wide angle shot of the whole scene, but a carefully composed macro where the petals glow.

For members there is an an entire article about the Nature Gardens in the Learning Center –  Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, and members can also see many more articles about light in the entire section Photographing the Light.

Join as a free member.

ibook-03 finding the lightI write a lot about light here at PhotoBotanic and many of the tips are available to non members such as Harsh Light on Lilies.  Follow the “Light” tag for these posts. Non members can also purchase a mini iBook, one of the Premium member Learning Center lessons, Finding the Light for $1.99 in iTunes or Google Play.

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