May Challenge: April Showers Bring May Flowers… Entry #11 Orchid

Vickie sent me a shot of her favorite orchid.
Years ago I had some orchids and they are certainly fun to shoot.

And this is what she said…
“This is my favorite orchid! Playing around with my 50mm lens. First time I have used it.”

I think Donna has shown us the value of a 50mm lens and as with all lenses, each has different attributes. The 50mm lens is small, lightweight, sharp focus and quite versatile. It is a prime lens (as in not a zoom lens) and capable of getting some very shallow depth of field which can be a plus or a minus depending on what you are looking for and is good in low light situations due to the possibility of using a wide aperture. Because it is not a zoom lens, you will have to let your feet do the zooming! I have personally used it for doing food photography to obtain shallow depth of field but it is necessary to experiment with it to choose what you do and do not want in focus.

As with any photo… take lots of shots and vary your f-stop (depth of field) to see what works best. Look at your photos on the computer rather than the back of your camera before deciding on which might be the best. Many times I have looked at a shot on the back of the camera and thought it to be in good focus yet when visualized on the computer screen, I find it is not as I had envisioned it.

Now let’s go back to Vickie’s photo. I was curious as to her settings and with all digital images, we can right click on the image and then click on “properties” and then click on “details” to get this information. This makes learning photography easier than years ago when we did not have this information at our fingertips when shooting film. I see that Vickie’s F-stop was 1.8 which is extremely shallow requiring great care in focusing. The shutter speed was 1/60 second which is acceptable for hand held at this focal length and an ISO 800. Keep in mind, if you are physically too close to your subject, your lens will not be able to focus.

My concern with this image is not the beauty of the flower… as it is a perfect specimen, but I am having a difficult time finding anything in sharp focus. Our eyes want to find something in focus for the most part. I am also a bit bothered by the white area to the bottom right of the image as my eye wants to go there without good reason. Quite frankly, I think this is worth reshooting paying attention to background and angle of view to eliminate the white/bright area from the photo and by adjusting your distance to the flower and shooting at different f-stops for comparison. As with all photography, there is a learning curve and with each lens we use, there is yet more to learn.

Thanks Vickie for your submission and allowing us to learn from this image!

To read more about this, check out this link:

Orchid (Photo by Vickie)

(Photo by Vickie)


19 thoughts on “May Challenge: April Showers Bring May Flowers… Entry #11 Orchid

  1. Vickie… thanks so much for your entry and for allowing me to use it to help us learn more about this lens and the issues when using shallow depth of field.

    In some of my food photos, I have taken as many as 50 photos of the same subject in an attempt to choose my focus point . Not sure why it is so difficult to do sometimes. By varying my f-stop, I have learned I can save myself many trips up and down the steps from my kitchen to the computer to get what I want in focus!

    Hey… nobody said photography was easy!

    • Lala,
      Yes most of the time I take tons of pictures for just one subject and the hard part was to decide what is the best. Now I have an excuse for sending you multiple pictures for just one challenge. LMAO.

  2. Oh my, such a lovely subject! I love that orchid. Thanks so much.

    An in-the-field way to sort-of guesstimate whether your image is in focus is, on the back of the camera, zoom-zoom-zoom to your focus point. It’s no where close to as good as on the computer monitor, but it’s better than nothing. I’ve caught a few problems that way.

  3. Vickie, congratulations on your new lens. Hope you use it often and take many many more shots. I certainly needed reminding of the pertinent details for getting the best use of it to create quality shots. Good choice choosing the orchid too.

  4. Now Vickie!!! Now, look what you made me do!!! I ordered a 50 prime. Yeesh.

    Oh, kidding, I’ve been shoving that thought around in my mind a long time, you just nudged me, and thanks.

      • I think so. It’s this one
        (hope that link works)

        I’ve been reluctant to buy any more lenses. I already have two that are small-sensor only. But, this one works with small or full size sensors. I don’t know if I’ll ever follow Ms. Fay into the full-size world, but if I do, I’d hate to just toss everything and start over. I have a Tamron 70-300 which also works with 35mm sensors, so all I’d need to cover, would be just a wide angle lens. Well, maybe… or, maybe I’ll learn to zoom-by-foot. “Watch out Robin, that cliffffff beeeehhinddd yooooou!!!!”

    • The UPS guy where I work knows where my cubette is, and it’s really hard to find.

      FedEx, USPS, they’re clods. Leave my stuff wherever.

  5. Thanks Fay!! Learned so much from your comments! Will shoot again and see what I can do to improve the shot. Yeah Robin! I also think UPS is much superior to the others!

    • Vickie… thanks for your comments. I always have difficulty deciding what area I want in sharp focus and I suppose that’s why I end up taking so many shots trying different areas. In the food challenge that I did, Neal would say it might take 15 minutes to execute and one hour later I would still be toiling away. Just a slow learner I suppose.

      Looking at the orchid, once again… what should be in focus? The two areas that come to mind are the white area of the orchid or the yellow stamens or maybe getting both of those areas in focus while letting the other petals go soft. Or maybe getting the whole of one chosen flower in focus and letting the rest go soft. I dunno!!! It’s all personal choice. Not sure if your camera has a button to preview the depth-of-field. I do find that to be helpful as I am shooting. (Check out your “destruction” book!)

  6. Now Vickie you are definitely contagious. I was planning to buy an extreme wide angle lens, in fact, it is already in my wish and I told my husband that after this I am “done” with purchashing lenses, but thanks to you now I could not get away from thinking about this lens. I might have to work extra. I love orchids and this one is my one of my favorite kind. Please share us the new improved picture of this as you planned.
    And to Lala, thanks so much for the lesson, I always learn a lot from you. I appreciate it very much.

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