When deciding what image you wish to ultimately create often there will be some planning and composing involved; where and what to photograph as well as when comes into play. In my opinion it is always best to have a plan for when you photograph no matter what your subject is. What is it that you wish to produce or convey with your image or images? That can be anything – again based upon your subject matter – from a beautiful sunset that captures all of the golden colors to showing the loving emotions between a mother and her newborn.
And then there are times when you just go out shooting with nothing more than the goal of just getting out there and having fun, leaving yourself open for some serendipitous moment that may cross your path. Or like with this image of the snowy rose, you take what you’ve got at the moment and run with it! I had no plans for any kind of outdoor shooting that day as it was very cold and we were already up to 4 inches of the soon to be 8 inches of snow. My original plan was to do some macro shots of things inside when I looked out of the back door and Eureka!
There was a beautiful clean layer of undisturbed snow on the deck with some light snow falling at that moment that started the wheels to turning. What could I photograph on such a palette I thought. As it turned out there were some red roses in a vase that were coming near their end when it hit me. What a juxtaposition of images – the beautiful cold white snow and a delicate red rose. I ran a few scenarios around in my head eventually deciding to just drop one rose into the snow and then do what one should always do when photographing – take many shots from as many different angles as possible.
The red and green of the rose would stand out nicely against it’s snowy backdrop. I had to work out the details of how was I going to achieve my vision. Shooting through the glass doors was not going to work nor was being outside because, well, it was cold and snowing! Plus I didn’t want to disturb the pristine layer of snow by stepping all over it so I was left with taking the shots through the open door as best I could. There was some limitations to what I could do by opening the door, shooting, and then pulling back in to warm up but that can and does happen whenever and whatever you shoot. I was once shooting a model and had her head tilted over a chaise lounge for a sultry effect but I had to cut that pose out because she began to get a bit dizzy. Things happen – you regroup and continue.
Before I began shooting in earnest, there were settings to be adjusted. I used my Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 100mm L macro lens; my go to lens for almost everything other than landscapes or when I need to shoot wide. I shot in AV (aperture priority) mode as my goal was to capture the rose with various depths of field and because I was also going to be popping in and out of the door and depending on how much snow was falling or not, the lighting would vacillate. I took a few test shots to test my white balance because snow is notorious for either coming out a bit grey or bluish and I really wanted the color of the rose to be true.
Auto white balance was pretty good, tungsten gave everything a blueish tint, daylight gave a little bit of the aforementioned grey but since I was working under cloudy skies, the cloudy white balance gave me the white snow and the warm tones to the rose that I wanted. I set the camera to spot metering because I wanted to meter off of the rose to ensure that its true colors came through. Once those settings were in place I switched between auto and manual focus based upon how far or close I was to the rose.
From there I took as many shots as I could from as many angles as possible without getting me or the camera too wet and cold from the snow, not letting too much snow into the house, and not disturbing the snow any more than when I flipped the rose over in the snow. I had to do that move gingerly because the rose had left it’s imprint in the snow and I didn’t want that to show plus I wasn’t going to wait for more snow to fall to fill in the indentation. I could’ve gotten some much lower angled shots had I gotten down on my stomach on the kitchen floor but that wasn’t going to happen; cold floor plus snow blowing right into the camera. Sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got.
After some time and many shots were taken the camera and I retreated from the cold and the images were imported into Lightroom 4 where I did the first pass through to decide which images were obviously not going to work such as blurry images (we all get them). From there things were further narrowed down to some that I thought were pretty good. Those images were then magnified to see how clear and detailed they were until I eventually picked the one that after some cropping and adjustments in LR and PSE 9 (Lightroom and Photoshop Elements) resulted in the snowy rose image.
I wouldn’t call these outtakes, but here are some of the other snowy rose shots. Some of the images at first glance might look very similar to you but upon closer inspection you will notice that there are some differences. Some have various amounts of snow on them, a couple show the rose with the head facing down while the others have the head facing up, or there is an ever so slight change in the angle. Subtle but significant.