“Orange Lily” by May Rogers (Or The Power of Careful Selection)

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"Orange Lily" by May Rogers

"Orange Lily" by May Rogers

As a photographer, our job is to capture subjects and present them in ways that our viewers are not accustomed to.  When it comes to shooting common subjects – such as flowers, people or otherwise – it can be difficult to present them in a way that is uncommon.  In these cases, what could matter more than what we present is what doesn’t make it into the photograph.  May Rogers, a fashion writer and designer from Honolulu, understands this concept well as demonstrated in her photograph, Orange Lily.

May has presented us with a fairly common and beautiful flower, a Lily.  Lilies come in a great number of colors, but the general shape is pretty recognizable to most of us.  That’s not to say that a typical photograph of a Lily is not going to be beautiful.  But in admiring such a typical photo, we would be admiring the flower, not the photograph (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  For a photo to be noticed as a photograph, one needs to do something more eye catching.  As May has done, one could get selective with what is shown.  You could also get really creative with the lighting.  May has chosen to do both.  She has cropped the shot really tight and she has used selective and dramatic lighting to control your focus.

From a framing perspective, May’s choice of crop is a little safe.  It’s not so tight as to take a big risk.  Alone, such a crop would not have been so eye catching.  It’s a personal preference, but I would have liked to see more of a walk on the edge.  I would have liked to have seen a really tight crop – cutting off as much as 2/3rds of the shot.  But again, that’s only a preference.  I don’t feel May’s choice of crop has hurt the photo in any way, and it certainly isn’t turning anyone away.  Either way, the crop is not typical, and it will catch some eyes.

What really makes the shot for me is the way in which May illuminated the flower.  The lighting is soft and focused, and it accentuates the color gradient of the flower.  As the stamen (the pollen tips) of this particular flower are incredibly dark in color, the lighting illuminates the pale color of the petals but doesn’t pull out the stamen.  The result is that the stamen are silhouetted against a warm background as they dance around the stigma (the single projection at the center of the flower).  The tiny dark spots around the inner portion of each petal – again accentuated by the lighting – serves well to mimic the feel of the stamen.  May’s use of light really does wonders to really separate this photograph from other flower shots.

May Rogers has only been on Flickr for about two months now.  While this would certainly be enough time for some users to rack up quite a photostream, May has flexed her strength of selection in what she has chosen to share the world.  This is admirable and, in my eyes, will separate her from other photographers moving forward.  You can of course find May’s Photostream on Flickr.  If you’re a Twitter user, you will also find her thoughts there @mayrogers.

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About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

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