BOTANIST - BEHIND THE LENS

Although portraits are some of my favourite photos to look at, I rarely take them myself.  But when I do, my subject is invariably Amy.  This is one of my favourite portraits of her because it catches her doing something that she loves.  That is exploring the world, seeing its wildlife and playing botanist.

Apart from the subject, I’m really pleased with the light in this shot.  I rarely photograph the sun directly so this is not something that I have so much experience in.  I like the blown out sky and I love the way that the really low sun casts its light over the rocks and moss.  For me, the lens flare is the cherry on the cake.  Some people like lens flare, some don’t, I do.

THE WHAT, WHEN AND WHY?

We’ve wanted to go to Iceland for so long!  I’ve seen thousand of stunning photos of the beautiful scenery and wildlife that it has to offer.  Finally we managed to get there this summer… and it was AWESOME!  One of the best holidays I’ve ever been on without a doubt.

We spent the week driving around the southern part of the island in a Dacia Duster that we had hired.  We also slept in the car each night, although it never got dark so not sure if I can call it “night”.  With that in mind, this photo was taken at around midnight, pretty weird ey?

We made the most of the sunsets and sunrises, which blurred into each other and seemed to last all night.  While driving through the “night”, we pulled over by this stunning lava field that was covered in this strange moss, which is what Amy is stroking.  As well as the moss we found a Frog Orchid which somehow manages to survive in this alien landscape.  It’s because of Amy’s love of plants that I call this photo, Botanist.

As far as I understand, no one is allowed to walk across the lava fields as they are a protected environment, so Amy was really careful to step between the moss on the very edge of the lava field for this shot. 

THE CAMERA, THE SETTINGS?

This photograph was taken on my Nikon D800 using the only lens that I took on this holiday.  The lens is a Sigma zoom lens and gives quite a lot of flexibility when you’re travelling around.

For this shot I was zoomed in as far as the lens could go in order to frame Amy and to bring the distant hills into view a little more.    

I started by trying to take a silhouette to avoid the sky being too blown out, but quickly increased the exposure to get a little more detail in the foreground.  I actually quite like that the sky is a bit over exposed.  I have a real dislike for HDR style photography and much prefer to see a more natural looking photo.   

It took a few shots to find an exposure that I was happy with.  A slight increase of the ISO was required to get a shutter speed quick enough to prevent a blurry image.  This was made slightly more difficult due to the small aperture of f.8 that I had chosen to increase the depth of field.

Anyway, I’m really pleased with how this photo turned.  I hope that you like to too.  Be sure to let me know your thoughts.

All the best, Joe.

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