Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Amaryllis extravaganza

It's snowing again, after ice drizzle. The streets are a nightmare, but at least I don't have to go out. I've never really thought all that much about the amaryllis that's about 2 m behind me as I write this, but it's been about the only spot of colour recently.

There was a set of 3 blossoms, and I got an ok shot of it. Then another stalk came up, and I conceived the idea of a little photo project. The idea was to capture the bloom from bud to needing to be dead-headed, without moving the plant. I hadn't known when I started but there ended up being 5 blossoms on that stalk. I started March 20, and took the last photos today.

The light is challenging, with a north facing bay window. Rather than taking a series of shots that might as well be extracts from a time lapse movie, I wanted to try to capture a nice angle for the exact state of the blooms. Sometimes that meant shooting directly towards the window, meaning the back of the blossom was in shade. I did a few HDR shots, but only one turned out the way I wanted. Other times that meant crawling into the bay window, or moving chairs.

When shooting in lower light you have 4 options. One, mount the camera on a tripod and hold the shutter open as long as desired. This works as long as nothing (like a cat, or warm air from the heat duct, or the photographer's heavy breathing) moves the flower even slightly. Two, raise the ISO to make the sensor more sensitive. This tends to introduce more digital noise in the darker areas of the photo. Three, open the aperture wider so more light comes in while the shutter is open. This is a mixed blessing. On the good side, one can get nice shots with a deliciously out of focus background, which I like. The downside is that it can become tricky to get all the desired elements clearly in focus. Four is to cheat and add artificial light wherever or however desired. I decided not to do that, and shoot only with natural light, and not use a tripod. Finding the sweet spot for ISO, shutter speed, and aperture for the image you see in your mind is what photography is all about.

These are in time order. Scroll through, enjoy the different state of the blossom, and try to pick up on the different camera angles and techniques I used. Which is your favourite?











If you can't tell, this is the HDR shot. It's one of my favourites. 12














Which is your favourite?


  1. Tough choices! I especially liked #1, 8, 14, 16, 18 and 22. As for which I like best, it's a tossup. I think #1 balances colour, composition and focus best but there's something about #14 that particularly appeals. Something about it evokes a sense of movement. Weird, eh? Also, the colour is great. Anyway, fun series, Keith. Thanks for sharing the results.

  2. I enjoyed your study / exploration and the approach. My top 5 are 2, 6, 10, 14, and 16. In all 5, I was struck by the asymmetry, the richness of colour, the framing and texture. Interesting to note that Janice and agreed on both 14 and 16. Like her I have to go with no. 14. Cheers, Sean

  3. My buddy James says number 5.


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