Sunday, October 28, 2012

The ones that got away

click photo to enlarge
Photographers are like fishermen: they dwell upon the ones that got away. I can still see the shot I missed when an enormous sheet of agricultural plastic, more than 100 feet long, blew past me and floated over a bungalow, twisting and turning in the air, a surrealistic sight that I came upon when I was without a camera. And the photographs that I've missed when driving along roads where stopping was dangerous or forbidden are too numerous to mention. However, the failure to get photographs on these occasions can be be easily forgiven; you simply feel that fate, circumstance - call it what you will - were against you. What's harder to deal with is when you see a shot, consider how to secure the best that it offers, and still don't end up with the photograph you wanted. Today's two images are examples of this phenomenon.

We were walking through some trees at Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, when the tip of a beech tree branch hanging low against a background of foliage caught my eye. There was no light coming through the trees behind, so I knew there would be no circular highlights to detract from the serpentine line of the twig or the delicacy and fine colours of the leaves. I opened the aperture to f4.5 to blur the background and mounted the 70-300mm lens to provide a longer focal length to further increase the blur, then took the main shot at 141mm. The composition and the light through the leaves is just what I wanted. However, I could see from the LCD that the background could do with more blur. So, I took a second shot. For this one I increased the focal length to 300mm. Then, knowing that the depth of field would be very shallow, opened the aperture to f5.6 (hardly worth the change). I took my shot looking carefully at the background, and was very satisfied with it. However, when I came to look at both shots on the computer I realised that I'd missed my composition on the second shot even though I'd got my background as I wanted. If I'd been paying better attention I'd have got the composition of the main photograph with the background of the smaller one. My next chance of that particular confluence of details is probably next autumn!

photographs and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 141mm
F No: f4.5
Shutter Speed: 1/160
ISO: 1000
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On