Mistakes Don’t Always Turn Out Badly

by | Jul 13, 2013 | Tips & Tricks | 2 comments

These two shots of a very colorful Asian Lily in my Mom’s flower garden were taken about 20 seconds apart from each other. I set up and shot the first one in accordance with my typical style for nature shots. The second one was taken by mistake, due to an oversight while changing settings while experimenting with a different style. What did I do differently?0190_Salem-West Virginia-USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 105 mm, 0.6 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 100

0191_Salem-West Virginia-USA_Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 105 mm, 1-60 sec at f - 5.6, ISO 100

The ISO, focal distance, aperture and white balance are all exactly the same and, true, the shutter speed was much faster for the second shot: 1/60sec instead of .6sec. But the main difference is that the flash fired. If it hadn’t, it would have been a terribly underexposed picture, but with flash, it created a pretty cool look!

My only intentions behind having a flash that day was to fill in the shadows a bit and add tiny white dots in each droplet of water. But between these two shots, I turned on my flash and forgot to change the exposure mode from Aperture Priority to Manual. The result was that the camera automatically chose a shutter speed of 1/60sec and emitted just enough flash power to create a correctly exposed foreground. With the background underexposed, it really makes the flower pop out from the background.

I am not necessarily a big fan of this unnatural effect (hence the fact that it was produce by mistake), but can be very nice in moderation and is certainly a good effect to know how to do. Just be sure to use a diffuser like the Gary Fong light-sphere I used in this shot to keep it from looking flat.

Looking forward to covering more details on effects like this in the CAPTURE NC workshop coming up in a few weeks. It’s nice to know that there will still be things to take pictures of even if it’s cloudy and rainy. Smile

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  1. Sarah

    WOW James! That is a pretty good mistake! I think that it makes the flower look darker and more eye catching, if that makes since? To be honest I think this second picture would be great to use in one of your calendars!

  2. James

    It certainly pops it off the background! The dark around the flower complements the red color, I think, and makes it really stand out, for sure.


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