It’s that time of year, when the coneflowers in my neighbor’s front yard start blooming. Which is where you’ll often find me in the evenings…crouched down in front of them with my camera.
I love coneflowers for their obvious beauty – the divine violet-y/purplish color of the petals in contrast to the prickly, rust-colored spines of the flower head. But besides that, coneflowers also hold a very special significance to me in my journey in photography. Because it was five years ago, stooping in front of Mrs. Graham’s coneflowers, that I experienced my first real “A-HA” moment in photography.
This photo, taken in June 2012, was the first time that I ever looked at the back of camera and saw in the LCD screen what I was envisioning in my minds’ eye. And even though, technically speaking, there is a lot about this photo that could use some improvement, in this moment, this photo was pure joy to me.
Since then, I have taken a photo of these coneflowers every year and I thought today it might be fun to revisit them.
After a year of really digging deep in my photography, I tried to recapture that first photo but with a little more technical skill. I shot this with my first Canon f/2.8 50mm compact macro so I was able to get a lot closer. Plus, I was also working on getting sharper focus in my photos. I also like the pretty bokeh and the more natural tones in this shot.
I was still shooting with my compact macro, but I tried shooting from a different angel this time. Less about the bokeh, I like this composition because you get a better feel for the shape of the flower and it puts more emphasis on the petals. Also, this was about the time I started using Lightroom to edit my photos and I love the subtle vintage vibe in this one.
This shot (as with most of photos that year) was all about breathing room. I had just purchased a Tamron f/2.8 24-70mm and it was good to be able to step back, so to speak, and incorporate more whitespace in my shot. I also love the subtle light and bokeh in the background.
Shadow and light…this was a common theme for me last year as I explored this in my life and in my photography. Also taken with my Tamron, but more dramatic and higher contrast, it is a real departure from my previous shots. But I love the warmth here. And I love the story this shot tells.
This year I am mostly shooting with my new Canon f/1.2 50mm lens. Like most prime lenses, it is very sharp and I love the detail I was able to capture along the stem in the foreground. But what I especially love in this shot is how the background details are transformed into magical little orbs. I love how it gives the overall shot a feeling of whimsy – like the flowers are almost dancing in the evening light.
It’s so fun to go back and look through my previous year’s photos…it’s fun seeing how my skills have improved such as with exposure and composition. I also like seeing how my style has evolved over the years as I have learned more about Lightroom and post-processing.
My guess is that I’ll continue to shoot coneflowers each summer. Because they are beautiful of course, but mostly because they remind me of that awesome feeling of the joy of discovery. They remind me that there is still so much to learn. They remind me of what a wonderful journey this has been.
Thank you so much for continuing to let me share them with you.