April 13, 2008

California Poppy

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Marin County is full of all sorts of little detours and escapes, and one of my favorite is Laurel Grove Avenue through the upscale community of Ross.   This is where rich, famous, and successful people live in stately homes with well manicured gardens -- some behind gates, and some not.   In earlier days you might have spotted Sean Penn and his family out for an after-dinner walk up the road, or other svelt health-conscious residents out jogging -- I always imagine them as important doctors or captains of industry, keeping tabs on the battle-of-the-bulge...

In any case, Laurel Grove Avenue is an escape from the congestion of the college in Kentfield, and on Friday I spotted a huge patch of California Poppies that screamed out photo opportunity.   I flipped-my-wig over the bright color, and my camera followed-suit by also going nuts -- it didn't quite know how to handle the intense reds, oranges, and yellows.   I guess it assumed that if this guy wants color, I'm going to give him color...   When I first looked at the results I said -- oops, so I toned down the color saturation substantially, but decided to leave the image a bit over-saturated to remind me of all that intensity that was going on in the scene.

In the comments Sean was asking what Saturation is -- here is what the Red Histogram looks like for the poppy photo.   The reds are "blown out" (busting through the top limit of the graph), which is considered "bad form" amongst experienced Photoshoppers.

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photowannabe said...

I have several shots with that intensity too. No one would believe how brilliant they really are. Love our Poppies and wil post some in a few days. First I have to get that gorgeous Mustang out of my system. You are so right Don, that yellow beauty and I were just made for each other.
Vroom Vroom!!!

Sean said...

Being new to photography, I don't have a clue what you mean about saturation (I always thought saturation was what happened to hillsides where people build their homes - and when the hill gets over saturated, the houses went away). But I love how you have the background and I love the detail you can see on the poppy. Thanks for bringing color to my morning.

AphotoAday said...

Hi Sean,

Saturation in photography is how rich colors are. Low saturation produces colors that are muted or faded, and high saturation produces colors that are vibrant, rich, and sometimes unrealistic.

Often, slight underexposure will boost color saturation but it mainly has to do with color temperature and the amount of white in the subject. With the eye alone it is often difficult to determine if a photo is over-saturated or not so Photoshoppers have a graph of 256 colors, called a Histogram, that they can refer to while making adjustments to the overall Luminosity, or individual channels of red, green, and blue. I always use the Luminosity Histogram to check and adjust my "whites" so I don't get whites that are "blown out" (pure white without detail). I will usually ignore the saturation levels of red, blue, and green and just rely on "how it looks to my eye", which is the subjective approach to saturation -- but one that frequently gets me into trouble with experienced Photoshoppers. In the poppy photo the reds are "off the scale", but if I brought them down to where they should be, the photo would lose a great deal of it's punch.

Give me a minute here and I'll go make a screen-capture of the Histogram for the poppy photo and post it -- you'll see part of the graph busting out of the top -- that's oversaturation.

Sean said...

Thank you for the explanation. I don't have photoshop. I have GIMP and I have Picasa2. But I use them both mainly for cropping photos and adding light. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

excellent treatment and info. thanks

Tomate Farcie said...

Wow, I'm gonna have to come back and read that again ve-ry-slow-ly.

Thank you very much for adding the little graph and everything.

By the way, I prefer the former poppy shot you posted before because it really, really jumps out of the monitor. This one kind of blends in with the background more.

Anna said...

Exquisite. Hope you are well there!

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