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Dancing Dahlias

September Dahlias

The Dahlia Garden

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Friday Slide Show: Infrared Dahlias Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

15 September 2017

Every year it's the same thing. We go over to Sharon Meadow (soon to be renamed for Robin Williams) in Golden Gate Park to hear Opera in the Park and then walk over toward the Conservatory where the Dahlia Garden is showing off its annual September bloom.

Every year. Every year. Every year.

You'd think we'd get tired of it. But there's nothing quite like taking portraits of dahlias in full bloom. No one can resist.

Man or woman. Child or Senior. All sizes. All religions. All political persuasions. All races. Even smartphone owners. Resistance is futile when it comes to dahlias.

So we walked over to the Dahlia Garden in the blistering heat. It was so hot that there were less people sitting out on the grass of Sharon Meadow than there were sitting in the shade of the trees around the meadow and hill.

We had overheard a paramedic call for more help when we first arrived, in fact. It's hot, he was explaining, and there's a lot of people in the sun. And they would more likely to be drinking wine for the finale (Verdi's Libiamo from La Traviata, traditionally) than water for hydration.

So it was hot. And the sun was bright. And the dahlias gamely refused to wilt in the heat and the strong sun.

Which made for some very strong contrast this year. No sense bouncing some light into the shadows because you can't get to most of these blooms. They're behind a fence.

That caused a problem for the smartphoners. Their wide angle lenses would have to stick to the dahlias along the railing. And don't even mention blown highlights.

We were shooting with an 18-200mm Nikkor with a polarizer, capturing Raw images we convert to DNGs on import, as usual. It's about as forgiving as shooting a dSLR gets.

And, taking a cue from last year, we weren't shy with our crops. We let the blooms explode in the frame in Lightroom if not in the camera.

But something was off.

We went through our picks twice, tweaking them, before we decided tweaks were not going to get us there.

No, it was time for some thing a little more drastic. So we made virtual copies of our picks and applied all sorts of Lightroom presets to them, rejecting one after another.

Until we tried the Infrared preset.

We complained above about the high contrast the bright sun brought to the party. Infrared enhanced it. They were made for each other. Deep blacks, glowing whites. The range that was missing in the color shots.

But then we thought, we can't just show you a bunch of black-and-white dahlias. So you get both treatments this year.

But not every year.

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