Shortly after I started this blog I received very good advice (from WordPress staff) about the layout of my posts. I was told that I should always start with a large, good quality photo because that was the first thing a reader saw and would influence whether they chose to read it or not. Apparently it is especially important for people who read blogs on smart phones. I have followed this advice religiously ever since.
The problem is that my blog often follows the transition of an image from the original shot to the final product as a result of changes in technique or editing. In those situations the first photograph of the series isn’t so great. But I don’t want a potential reader to judge the quality of a post based on a substandard image, so that means I have to lead with the final image and then explain how I got to it. It sometimes feels akin to giving the punch line before telling a joke.
This post is a good example…
I was looking through my files for a photo or photos to post today and came across the image below of a cross orbweaver spider (Araneus diadematus) that I photographed on Deas Island last August (see More macro photography in the field: bug hunting with a camera on Deas Island for a discussion of my technique). As you can see, the spider itself is well focused and nicely exposed. However, the out of focus branches in the background are distracting and really mess up the picture.
After looking at it I decided that this could be a nice picture with a little judicious cropping. The obvious thing to do was to crop the photo around the spider and in a vertical format. The resulting image is below.
This is a much better picture, but some of the distracting background is still present. Plus the photo is a bit boring—it is basically just an identification photo of a cross orbweaver spider. Furthermore the composition isn’t optimal: the main point of interest (the spider’s head) is in the wrong place in the image—to my eye anyhow. In macro photography a good rule of thumb is “when in doubt, get closer.” Actually, that is a good idea for most photography. So I cropped the photo much tighter and in so doing was able to move the head to a better location within the photo. I also rotated the image slightly counter-clockwise so that the spider is oriented more diagonally across the picture to provide both interest and a nice balance to the radiating legs.
The final result is the picture at the top of the page. I really like it, and all-in-all it’s not a bad punch line!
The technical stuff:
Camera: Olympus E-620 digital SLR
Lens: Zuiko 35mm macro
Settings: manual exposure (F16 @ 1/60 sec)
Lighting: Olympus RF-11 ring flash (1/2 power)