Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Of Weeds and Weddings

While out and about with the Nikon the week before last, I decided to play around with the aperture setting a little bit in a poor attempt to learn how to do bokeh shots like my friend Lisa who is an amazing mom and photographer and person in general. If you haven't looked at her photography, you don't know what you're missing - especially her flower pictures which are so beautiful you could swear you can smell them just looking at them!

Anyhow, Lisa does this really cool effect where the background is blurred and the foreground is crystal clear and pops right off the page.  It's a matter of fooling around with the aperture setting on the camera and a few other technical thingies that I won't bore you with (as well as not really being able to properly explain) that then produces either good bokeh or bad bokeh - not that to the untrained eye you can really tell the difference between good and bad bokeh but trust me, there's a difference according to all of the websites I've looked at!

As it turns out, I didn't manage to get either good or bad bokeh as I got no bokeh at all - just a soft or blurred background that I actually rather liked.  The picture below is a weed - I think - but I rather liked the shape of it so I decided to try snapping a picture on aperture mode and then fooled around with it a little bit to turn it into what you see below:

A Weed

Not knowing what kind of plant it really is, I'm going to call it a Starburst or a Fireworks Weed as it sort of reminds me of the type of fireworks that blow out from the center and then little bursts of light waterfall down. Oh, and that white blur in the background?  That's my hand holding the darned thing still as it was pretty windy while I was trying to get the picture and the poor plant wouldn't hold still!

The reason I was playing with this weed and trying to see if I could get a bokeh effect is that I'm going to be photographing my very first wedding this coming Saturday for a couple of friends and I want to be able to get some shots for them using the blurred background effect as I see a lot of those on wedding photography sites and they always look really, really nice.  I know I'm not a professional by any means and don't claim to be but the last thing I want to do is mess up the photography at a wedding - one of the most important days in a couple's relationship - however by the same token I don't want to produce simply the same-old same-old shots.  Wedding pictures should be more than that.

I seem to do okay with landscapes and stationary objects but on Saturday I'll be taking photos of a couple in love on their special day and I want the pictures to reflect that so when they're celebrating their silver anniversary and beyond they can pull out their pictures and easily recall the moments when they said "I do" and became husband and wife - united in love and faith in each other.

Of course, it would be okay if they forgot the fact that I practiced for their wedding day using weeds!

Lastly, if I could ask you all a big favor ... right now the weather forecasters are predicting rain for Saturday which is totally unacceptable - especially consider Frank and Dawn are having an outdoor ceremony - so I was hoping I could get you all to send up good thoughts for good weather on Saturday.  Maybe if there are enough people wishing for the same thing, Mother Nature will cooperate and send sunshine for the happy couple.  Thanks in advance!


  1. Thanks for the shout out!!! It was a total suprise and made me smile.

    I have a field full of those same weeds behind the house. I think its the skeletal remains of Queen Ann's lace? Or maybe not.

    One key to good bokeh is having a light source in the background. If its dark behind you, there's no light to come in through the aperature. My A Ha! moment came last year when I set up a white poster board with christmas lights draped over it and photographed a calla lily bloom in a vase about 3 feet in front of the poster board. I used different aperature settings from 1.8 to 22 to see the different effects! I was hooked then. http://www.flickr.com/photos/star8278/3388952542/in/set-72157615869486139/

    I shall hang my rosary beads on Saturday. I was taught that if you hang them on your clothesline it will not rain. It worked for my God-daughter's First Communion a few years ago, and the lady who told me about it accidentally left hers out on the line for an entire week and it started a drought. Seriously!!!

    You will do great on Saturday, just don't overthink it. Don't be afraid to shoot in AUTO if things are too dark, or just not right. There's no shame in being safe and ensuring great pics for your friends. I will be glad to help you with post processing afterwards. You know where to find me.

  2. Linda, I cannot explain the grattitude I have for all my online friends, thanks.

  3. Anonymous8:48 AM EDT

    I said no rain... and sunny it shall be... OK, I'm no God... So I guess I'll hope for sunshine.

    You'll be a wonderful photographer for them. I'm so excited. Can't wait to see the pics.

  4. bokeh smokeh, i don't know what it is but i see the word everywhere, anyhow what i am trying to say is your photo is great, as always!

    lala did a wedding and she did really good and you will too! NO RAIN! NO RAIN! NO RAIN!

    smiles, bee

  5. Ha, ha, ha! I was laughing to myself about the fact that you were practicing on weeds too...still, your shots are always great and I'm sure that they'll love everything you do.

    Good luck and good thoughts too!!

  6. Well that's a great photo even if it wasn't the effect you were looking for! You're so brave doing a wedding - I'm sure it will go really well and of course I'm praying for good weather for Saturday. :)

  7. Saturday sunshine. Hear that, God? OK.

    Love the weed photo. Just take tons of photos Saturday and you'll find winners in the lot. No doubt. And have fun! Can't wait to see the results.

    Big hugs, honey...

  8. I know absolutely nothing about photography and that works for me. Too much work. I watch Zane and it's way too much work.

    I think all your photographs are awesome. So there.

    I'm sending good thoughts to the weather Gods in your neck of the woods. Sunshine it shall be.

    Have a terrific day. Big hug. :)

  9. You did a great job, Linda! And you're right, that weed does look like a fireworks burst.

    Good luck with the wedding! I will be sending sunny vibes your way. :)

    A couple of tips? Shooting with a telephoto lens should help to decrease depth of field and try not to shoot from too far away (tough at a wedding, I know) as being closer to the subject will also reduce the depth of field. Do you have a depth-of-field preview button on your camera? That will help.

    You'll do great, I'm sure!

  10. I can't wait to see the gorgeous wedding photos! It wouldn't dare rain on their wedding day!

    I'm still only dreaming of getting a DSLR. ::sigh::

  11. I tried to fiddle with my fstops......bit I couldn't find any!!

  12. I'm sure you'll do just fine. You know how to frame a scene regardless of the subject.


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