This month’s Readers Photo Challenge subject of flowers was a popular one. Twenty-eight readers sent in 118 photos. Some traveled far across an ocean to take flower photos, while others looked no farther than their backyards. Some images were of wildflowers, while others photographed cut flowers at home. Here are the top picks.
The No. 1 top pick comes from Janet Baniwich, formerly of Morada but now lives in Billings, Montana. She was visiting her aunt and cousin who live in Interlaken, Switzerland. While walking down the main promenade through the town, she stopped to take a photo of flowers growing in pots and planters along the walkway.
With her Apple iPhone, she captured a colorful scene in distinct layers built upon another. The first tier is a set of small, white flowers in the foreground that help bring the viewers’ eyes into the frame. The second layer is the line of multi-colored tulips through the center of the frame.
The next layer comes in the form of mountains that surround the town. In the center is the snow-covered Jungfrau, at 13,642 feet, one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps. The white of the snow is mirrored in the white flowers at the bottom of the frame. The final layer is a blue sky with wispy white clouds.
Tom LaBounty of Stockton also “built” his image but in a different way. He photographed irises from his front yard that he cut and brought them into his house, where he set up an impromptu studio. He set the flowers against a black background to help them stand out. He illuminated the irises with 4 small LED lights. Two of them were in the front offset at about 45-degree angles. Another light was set behind, and he held the fourth light in his hand to light the top of the flowers. LaBounty used a Fuji GFX100s digital camera to photograph a still-life photo.
Fred Norman of Stockton photographed daisies in his backyard. With his Canon 6D DSLR camera, he captured the vibrant yellow and purple flowers and then sprite a little water on them with a spray bottle to add a few water drops for visual sparkle to the petals. Norman used a Photoshop technique called focus stacking, where several different images are combined to create more depth of field and have more focus than otherwise would have been possible. The result is every flower and petal is tack sharp in the scene.
Like Baniewich, Stocktonian Dave Skinner’s photo is an example of layers. But instead of bold colors and shapes, his image is a lesson in subtlety. With his Nikon D7100 DSLR camera equipped with a macro lens, he photographed the delicate petals of a rose at the World Peace Garden in University Park in Stockton. Each petal is layered upon the next with gradually varying shades of pink and some yellow.
Bettina Engelman of Stockton used some subdued light for her flower picture. It was overcast when she went into her backyard and spotted a hibiscus blossom. The cloudy sky creates subtle, elegant lighting to enhance the graceful beauty of the flower. With a 50mm macro lens on her Sony Alpha 7ii digital mirrorless camera, she got close to the flower capturing just the stamen and some of the petals.
Engelman’s husband, Paul Engelman’s flower photo, was enhanced with serendipity. While walking through the Lodi Lake nature area, he spotted some blossoming wild blackberry vines. He moved in close, and as he was framing his Sony A6400 digital mirrorless camera to capture a single flower, a bee buzzed in, looking for some nectar. As the saying goes, luck favors the prepared, and while the bee was unplanned, Engleman captured images that are more than just a simple blossom.
For being first, Janet Baniewich wins a free 16”x20” print of her choice made by UlmerPhoto in Stockton and a $25 gift card to a local eatery. Tom LaBounty wins an 11”x14” print for second, and the third place prize of an 8”x10” print goes to Fred Norman.
All of the photos can be seen in an online gallery at recordnet.com. A new challenge assignment will be issued on May 23.
Record photographer Clifford Oto has photographed Stockton and San Joaquin County for over 38 years. He can be reached at [email protected]. To support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.
This article originally appeared on The Record: Readers Photo Challenge: Bringing May Flowers