The Way I Saw It
In some parts of the Northern Hemisphere, Spring was in full effect. In fact, it was not too far from what the calendar says is Summer. Here in the mountains of Montana, it is a slightly different story. Just a month or so before I captured this image, this area was still covered in a Winter’s worth of snow. As the Sun slowly advances to the north, it’s power to warm the Earth increases, as does the length of time it is out each day. The snow here had finally melted, but recent storms had brought quite a bit of rain and even new snow.
I pulled up to this trailhead in Yellowstone hoping to find a few harbingers of Spring. At first glance, I saw nothing. The thing is, high country wildflowers are accustomed to the slow start of Spring. They stay low to the ground and are likely to be found in and amongst taller plants that help shield them from the frost. The particular area contains a lot of Sagebrush. As I got out and began to wander through the fields, something magical happened. What was at first a meadow of Sagebrush, became a garden of tiny living jewels sprinkling the ground just like someone with a bag of sparkling gemstones lavishly sprinkled them across the landscape.
There were the waxy yellows of Sagebrush Buttercups. Where the soil was more loose and damp, I saw the bright yellow transmitters of joy, otherwise known as Glacier Lilies. Then, on the sunny side of a gentle hill, I found the most delightful shade of pink. The longer I stopped and stared, the more I saw. This one, however, caught my eye. From a distance, the tiniest of dew drops glinted in the morning sun and compelled me to come closer. Upon closer investigation, some of its neighbors in the shade still had frost lining their edges. This ones fortunate spot in the sun allowed the frost to melt into miniature beads of glass perched precariously along the petals of this Shooting Star. The curving stem rising out of the amazing textures of the moss covered soil demanded that I kneel down on the ground and study this specimen more closely. Here is the way my camera and I saw it!
Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
Conceptual: Feedback on the message and story conveyed by the image.
Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.
Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.
When I saw this Shooting Star with the delightfully curved stem standing along among the Sagebrush, I new what I had to do! With the camera right down at ground level, I composed the shot and set up the focus shift function on my camera to take 150 images. I was careful to start the stack just in front of the closest part I wanted to get in focus. I don’t always need all 150 shots, but experience has taught me that this is about how many I need to get a few inches of a scene in focus.
A couple of thoughts on artistic images though. One is that if it is the way the artist intended it to be, then it is good! However, not everyone sees it the same way as the artist, and artists can be blind to things others might see in their work. I’d love to hear what you might find distracting in this image or how you might have processed it differently.
Sigma 105mm macro
ISO 64, f/4.2, 1/320 second
150 images stacked in Helicon Focus
Processed in Lightroom Classic CC
I used the masking tool in Lightroom Classic to further soften the background, sharpen the flower.