The best scenic shots are seldom planned; they just happen. Such was the case when I discovered this field of sunflowers along the St. Francis River near the Missouri-Arkansas border. Nothing breaks the monotony of a drab landscape better than a glowing field of sunflowers, but, like many other scenics shots, transposing what the mind sees to a digital image can be tricky.
No digital camera, regardless of its resolution capabilities, can “process” a scene better than the human brain. In a split second, the mind can tone down the yellows, mix in the shadows and kick up the contrast areas in order to create an appealing image. A camera needs assistance, and while experience helps, the beauty of digital photography is that the best results come from experimentation.
There are also some simple tools that can help. This shot was taken using a Fuji Finepix S2 Pro at ISO 400 with a shutter speed of 1/500th of a second and an aperture of f/11, which maintained a sharp depth of field from the foreground all the way to the treeline in the background. A 2-stop neutral density filter (a grey filter that darkens the image by two f-stops) was used to maintain the detail in the yellow petals of the sunflowers. Another 2-stop graduated neutral density filter (a filter that fades from gray to clear) was also attached, allowing the bright afternoon sky to be darkened further without affecting the landscape image. Other images from the photoshoot can be seen at the Show-Me Missouri website at www.ShowMeMissouri.net.
Gary Figgins is owner and publisher of Show-Me Missouri, a statewide travel magazine that features Missouri travel destinations and attractions. Gary’s photographs fill the pages of this publication, often with beautiful double-page spreads featuring the outdoors. See http://www.showmemissouri.net/