Behind The Shot: ‘Calla Lily’ by Yan Larsen – Big Sur, California

Three exposure composite of calla lilies captured in Big Sur, California field of flowers

Calla Lily by Yan Larsen

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