David's Digital Camera Closeup Work, Style, & Ethic
David's Close-up Intent
These Digital Camera Close-up galleries contain images I've captured with compact digital cameras. The intent of this body of work is to capture aesthetic close-up images including those of our most showy California wildflower species in their natural environments using a conservative photography ethic without resorting to manipulations. All these images have been taken this decade since the appearance of digital cameras.
For many years with tripod mounted 35mm single lens reflex cameras, I took 35mm Kodachrome 64 KR135 slides of wildflowers. A number were Kodak Pro PhotoCD scanned and digitized during the mid 1990s when I also began using Photoshop 3.1, long before the current vast numbers of image takers knew the difference between a pixel and an ink dot. I have chosen not to include any of that earlier work herein though a few of those images are viewable in the 35mm section at the bottom of my homepage gallery. The many years I explored our state for wildflowers using 35mm SLRs, modest studies of California flora, and how seasonal weather affects each season's plant growth, provides me with considerable knowledge of where and when to locate many species. And that is the main advantage I have over all but a very few other Californians in this age of the imagery on the Internet. I wish to dedicate these galleries to my mother Pauline who encouraged me with smiles of loving feedback whenever I presented to her my early 1980s wildflower prints.
Camera, Gear, & Tools
Earlier in this opening decade of the 21st millenium, I used 2mp and 4mp digital cameras of the day, however image quality was marginal versus what could be accomplished with 35mm film. That changed as I began using a 7mp Nikon 7900 Coolpix in spring 2005 as I acknowledged the advantage of increased pixel density to digital sensor size providing increased depth of field. Then recently in spring of 2009, I began using the new 14.7 megapixel Canon G10 that is capable of producing considerably larger prints with unprecedented depth of field. Almost all my work has been from atop an old Benbo Trekker tripod that I have been using over two decades that though a decades old design, is arguably still the most flexible tripod available for irregular surface closeup work in the field. In order to result in highest resolution and sharpness, almost all my images are captured at the ASA 80 setting and the minimum aperture of f/8.0 for maximum depth of field. Additionally I use in-camera flash, an external Canon 270EX Speedlight auto flash on a cord, an Impact 32 inch collapsible diffusion disk, a Photoflex 32 inch collapsible silver/white Litedisc reflector, and Canon's RS60-E3 remote shutter release.
Digital Color and Luminance Accuracy
One unfortunate issue with all digital cameras unlike color neutral film is, unless one performs expensive poorly understood calibration regularly, one cannot hope to capture images that one can say with confidence, reasonably accurately reflects the light on subjects one actually experienced. However close-ups are obviously different than landscapes as one is expected to complement and or manipulate natural ambient light in order to more evenly expose typically small subjects that otherwise tend to be unevenly illuminated with awkward shadows. As such my chosen personal style for image close-ups has a somewhat different set of personal ethics versus my more conservative personal ethics in my 4x5 landscape film work.
Accordingly during post processing my results are simply a combination of my vague memory and an interest in ending up with an image reasonably portraying actual subjects. I will welcome the day DSLR camera manufacturers provide reasonable easily switched to default color calibration. I do not manipulatively post process create "images in the mind's eye" that is the status quo attitude today but rather am interested in reproducing subjects reasonably faithfully as they would appear under provided lighting.
Conservative Postprocessing Ethic
Among what I do not consider acceptable in my own work that is a dominant attitude with many other pros today and hence the general public, is post processing manipulation of the graphic content of captured images. Thus no digital removal of unaesthetic elements like blades of grass or anything else nor adding of elements. No blurring of backgrounds and very limited burning, dodging of backgrounds to improve sensor luminance compression more to what the human eye see. Acceptance of classic camera limitations of natural image capture as limited lens depth of field and changes to geometric perspective. And no manipulative over saturating or over contrast of colors, shifting natural hues, or unnatural dodging, and burning of subject areas as best I might recall. My task is to locate unusually colorful subjects of each species regardless of how much effort in the field that might take and not simply create such in Photoshop.
I have also developed personal subject ethics for working in the field. I do not move, bend, or rearrange living flowers for target plants, or associated elements like rocks in a frame's setting from how nature and wind has left them. I do move or remove other vegetation away that would interfere with my camera perspective. That is most often the ubiquetous grasses and grains that often dominate flower fields but could also be the same species as the subject. And I will remove grasses, grains, and their dead dried remnants of previous seasons from entangling a subject as is often the situation with some species. At times the creation of "bomb holes" of trampled vegetation where a photographer works from to access subjects and pathways through vegeatation is unavoidable. That is especially true for very dense expanses of wildflowers like at Antelope Valley or Carrizo Plain. My own attitude is to limit such trampling and subject damage, attempting to walk where others have already created pathways and bombholes, and leave best areas as natural looking as possible for other photographers. I am keen to walk carefully through landscapes, like an acrobat preferring to step on mineral earth and rock while avoiding vegetation and especially aesthetic areas of vegetation if possible.
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