Magical filter

I’m embarassed to admit that I am a very lazy photographer. I’ve accumulated some pretty decent equipment, and over the past two years I’ve had plenty of time to study the basics of photography and to improve my skills. Instead, I mostly wander around and shoot whatever catches my eye — without bothering to get a serious grasp on using my camera’s settings to control my final product. I keep meaning to do that someday, but… maybe not today. When I do learn something new, it’s usually by accident.

For quite awhile now, I’ve struggled with finding the best light for capturing colorful flowers — wildflowers as well as the garden varieties. I’ve learned through trial and error that shooting them in bright sunlight gives me overexposed images with washed out colors. Even shooting on a cloudy day has left me with disappointing results (have I mentioned that I really need to learn to use some of my basic settings?).

So it was a happy accident when I recently unearthed a neutral density filter I’d forgotten about; I had never played with it because I didn’t understand how it was meant to be used. This time, I did a bit of research and realized one of the things they’re good for is shooting flowers in bright sunlight.

One of my neighbors down the street grows beautiful bicolor red/orange roses in their front yard every year, and every year I try and fail to capture their rich, vibrant tones. But this year, using my ND +4 filter, I finally did it! Shooting in aperture-priority mode at f/8, auto ISO at 125, shutter speed 1/80, and despite the bright morning sun at my back, the colors came through beautifully rich — and much more accurate than I had ever managed before. Of course, I still have a lot to learn and a lot of work to do, but I’m encouraged and more motivated by this small bit of success!

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