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Waterlilies and Creative “Flare” by F.M. Kearney
Photographing waterlilies has its pros and cons. Unlike other flowers that are often surrounded by unsightly twigs, weeds and/or soil, waterlilies grow in the middle of lakes and ponds amidst decorative lily pads. With fewer distractions around them, it’s much easier to compose a “clean” shot. The downside is that they grow in the middle of lakes and ponds. Unless you’re willing and able to wade out to them for a close up, you will almost certainly need to use a zoom lens. Although all of the waterlilies I’ve ever shot were in the reflecting pools of botanical gardens, I still needed to use a long lens to obtain a tight composition.
The dark water that usually surrounds waterlilies provides opportunities for creative possibilities. It can be filled with the reflections of the flowers themselves, or with special effects. I used Cokin diffractor filters to create the multi-colored flares in these images I shot in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. A diffractor filter works by producing colorful design patterns around bright light sources. Different variations of these filters produce different design patterns. Although there are no visible light sources in these photos, I composed them with the reflection of the sun on the water just outside the frame. These filters are very sensitive and were able to react merely off of the brilliance of the sun alone. I rotated the filters to place the designs in the exact spots I wanted them.
Diffractor filters may not be for everybody. In fact, they mimic an effect many photographers try to eliminate – sun flare. You certainly wouldn’t want to use them if your goal is to capture an accurate documentation of something. I rarely use them myself because I’ve always considered their effects to be somewhat hokey. However, if the light source is completely omitted from the shot, as in these two particular images, they can be used much more creatively since the cause of their effects is not immediately evident. If you’re in the mood for something different, diffractor filters are a fun way to add an artistic “flare” to your photos.
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F.M. Kearney is a fine art nature photographer, specializing in unique floral and landscape images. To see more of his work, please visit http://www.starlitecollection.com.
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