With all the warm weather we had this winter, not having much needed rain, I noticed Calla Lily at Big Sur blooming earlier in March 2013. After I had seen a few pictures, I knew I had to pay a visit ASAP, the flowers were probably past prime time. The day was the only day I could get out of work earlier, but the weather was not cooperating… No clouds could be spotted from the coast. I debated a few minutes, decided to give it a shot. Well, sometimes we need to trust our own intuition. It turned out it was some of the best light I had ever seen in the Big Sur area.
I arrived around 4 in the afternoon, there was nobody around, the flowers were just passing their prime, so it was not so bad. The flowers were beautiful but surrounded with poison oak. To find a good spot to set up a tripod was a challenge. I would have liked a close-up calla lily as foreground, but also wanted to photograph masses that could make a bank of flowers look as if they go on forever. As a consequence, I needed to pay a lot of attention to every detail I saw in the viewfinder because it would have a huge impact on the overall look. I took some time to look around and went to the flowers that attracted me most and placed my tripod carefully away from the poison oak.
I began to try different compositions and picked the one I liked most, then manually I focused the lens on the flowers first. It was a windy day. To shoot the flowers in focus was not an easy job.
The sky is as important as the flower, it definitely enhanced the whole image. After I got a sharp foreground picture, I used two different exposures to shoot the mountain and sky, no filter used. This image was made from three exposures that have been blended together via Photoshop CS6. – Yan Larsen
A print of this shot is available by emailing Yan Larsen. To see more of her work, go to her Flickr page.
Equipment and Setting: Nikon D800E, Nikkor AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED zoom lens. Gitzo GT2541 Mountaineer 6x carbon fiber tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead – Three exposures at 1/8th, 1/20th, and 1/80th shutter speeds, f/8.0, ISO 50