I visited my parents' place to say Happy Mother's Day to my mom.She asked me to bring my camera so as to take some shots of the wild flower garden my dad has been cultivating for years.
I brought two lenses, my Canon 18-200 mm for overall shots, and my Canon 60 mm prime macro. A prime lens is one that has only one focal length, in this case, 60 mm. This means that when you look through the viewfinder, you see only one scene; you cannot zoom in or out to change the scene. If you want a different composition, you have to move yourself to make the change.
The benefit of a prime lens, is that it has fewer glass elements, and as such, tends to be faster (wider base aperture, which means being able to shoot in lower light) and deliver tack-sharp images which are rich in color owing to the reduction in glass elements, or lenses, within the lens body. The less glass that the light arriving at your sensor travels through, the less distortion, diffraction and overall reduction in quality of light and color. So, a prime lens tends to produce images of unmatched clarity and color saturation. Prime lenses are also lighter in weight, as there is less glass inside the lens.
Additionally, the prime lens can have a larger base aperture than a comparative zoom lens, so with the wider base aperture, you can shoot in low light without flash or tripod. Also, the wider base aperture makes for a flatter depth of field (area of acceptable sharp focus), so if you want the subject in sharp focus, and the background in a nice, soft out-of-focus blur (known by the cognoscenti as "bokeh"), a prime lens fits the bill.
This prime lens is also a macro lens, which makes it capable of taking some pretty close-view shots, or "close-ups". While it can be used as an acceptable portrait lens, its purpose is for close-view work.
So, I shot some flowers using ambient light, handheld, setting the aperture wide open for maximum background bokeh. The downside to a wide open aperture is that your area of acceptable sharp focus is shallow, so in some cases, part of a flower bloom will be in focus, and part will not. To correct this, I just stop down the lens, making the aperture smaller until the depth of field is where I wanted it.
However, with shots like these, the blooms, the late afternoon sun filtering through leaves and trees makes for a dreamy feel, so I kept the aperture wide open to create a slightly out-of-focus theme that creates a nice, soft, dreamy Monet-like quality to the colors and shadows.
Finally, I used the 18-200 mm zoom to capture the chickadee going to and from her nesting box, feeding her brood which has recently hatched. These shots were backlit, which was unavoidable given the time of day and the location of the nesting box.
Overall, my mother seemed to like her Dendrobium orchid we brought her, and my camera seemed to like said orchid, as well as the other blooms that were there.
All shots taken with a Canon 7D. The flower pictures were taken with a Canon 60 mm macro prime lens, with a Singh-Ray warming circular polarizing filter. I love, love love Singh-Ray filters, and generally don't shoot without them. This filter has a very subtle polarizing effect, softly dampening the strong late-afternoon light rays without changing color or overall light sensitivity too much.
So, a beautiful day here in Canada's Capital. Warm, sunny, perfect for photography. Thanks to all the mothers out there, here's hoping you got to spend time with your family.
Chris Kiez, a hardcore photographer since the 80's, learned to take a picture before the age of selfies and cell phone photography, training on mechanical cameras and film. After years of taking photos of all manner of subjects and people, he did over a 10 year stint as a crime scene photographer on two continents. Now, he does portrait and landscape photos, and is currently distressing the world with his relentlessly, excruciatingly boring blogging. To buy what you see on this site, click here!