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Friday Slide Show: Water Lilies Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

4 September 2015

Coming out of San Francisco's de Young museum on the north side of the building, rather than its main middle entrance, you stumble upon the lily pond. The pond was particularly attractive this week with good weather, new buds and still water.

Waterlilies. An ecosystem that draws the eye and paints with sunlight.

We couldn't resist lining up a few shots. The first was a long view but then we started paying attention to the floating flowers themselves.

We worked only with sunlight but there are so many flowers and pads that we took several angles as we walked around the pond. Sometimes only the flower was illuminated, everything else in shade. Sometimes the leaves cast an almost X-ray-like shadow on the sandy bottom of the pond. White lilies, yellow ones, pink ones.

We also added just a touch of Dehaze to these. It helped.

The fun of it was composing the images. Looking a bit closer to see what we might have missed just passing by. Like that odd shadow the leaves cast.

But we also knew this wasn't a job for a smartphone. The brightness range was challenging and if you wanted to capture the color of the flowers, you didn't want some average exposure or something brightening up the shadowed background.

So we shot Raw in Aperture Priority mode with a polarizer on the lens. We knew we'd do all the work in post production in Lightroom CC.

And that's what we did, starting with our usual bump in Clarity, then salvaging the shadows.

But that left highlights like the flowers overexposed. Dropping the exposure a bit just set everything off. So we resorted to Curves, locking down the shadows and midtones and darkening just the highlights.

We also added just a touch of Dehaze to these. It helped.

And the final trick was to adjust the color temperature slightly. Everything was a bit too warm to start with so we cooled it to 4,500.

As we worked on these, we marveled at how the color palette changed from one image to the next. The reason was obvious: the angle of the sun.

In the end, it doesn't matter if you're shooting classic cars or water lilies. It's always all about the light.

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