Enter the Oyster


Welcome to the oyster plant. That's right the oyster plant. Not often we have plants named after shellfish. Where is the clam plant? How about the lobster flower? But I digress. It's also known by the common name salsify, and perhaps most importantly the scientific name Tragopogon porrifolius. You're looking at the seeds of the oyster plant which form a puffy cluster like a giant dandelion. From this perspective these wispy seed heads feel enormous to me; like the size of an egg. Which is many times larger than reality - they may be like a giant dandelion, but not that big. This is one of the things I love about close-up photography: the ability to shift perspective and change perception. Without my explanation, I wonder how large of a plant you would have thought you were looking at.

Another great aspect of close-ups is that you don't have to move your lens very far to find a new composition. I stayed with this oyster plant for a while and found many interesting variations on my initial composition. You can see in the samples below that I maintained the center of the seed heads as my foundation for each composition. I made slight shifts to my perspective and varied the point of focus as well as the aperture to create a mixture of images. The photo above and the ones below are all keepers, just variations on the theme. But I think the lead image is my favorite - for now.


Try this out the next time you're shooting close-ups. Stay in the same spot and move your camera around to point at different parts of the subject (or other subject nearby). Also, manually turn the focusing ring to see how the elements change as you shift focus. This is an effective approach to finding compositions you wouldn't otherwise see; the naked eye doesn't see things the same way a camera lens does.

Upcoming Events:

External Flash Photo Class: May 11

Historic Waterford Village Workshop: May 11

Maryland’s Eastern Shore Workshop: May 17-19

Spring in West Virginia Workshop: May 31 – June 2

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens Workshop: June 15

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Workshop: June 29

Lonaconing Silk Mill Workshop: July 27-28