Selection of September 2023: Dream of Rain by Alex Noriega

Dream of Rain by Alex Noriega

The image was made in a remote canyon of Death Valley National Park. It was partly due to specific research, but not by me - my friend Sarah Marino had long wanted to find a plant such as this one, as they are quite rare, and she thought there might be a possibility in this area. We did not expect to find it, but we happened upon it by chance and all photographed it (my girlfriend and Sarah's husband were both there as well, and he was actually the first to see it).

As for framing, it is a rather small plant, and the part in the image is maybe six inches across. So my strategy, since there were three other people waiting to shoot the same plant, was to include as much of the attractive portion of the plant as possible, while excluding its surroundings (dirt and rock) and the stems coming out the top of it. I didn't have much time to try many variations, so I wanted to shoot as wide as possible so that I could find a proper crop and orientation later. The plant is a flower, but the photograph is actually comprised of only the leaves at the base. There was only slight technical difficulty in that the subject was quite small and I had to be quite close, so it required focus stacking. But the Canon R5 automates that process easily, so the hardest part was setting up the tripod at that low height and frame the shot precisely, as I was not yet using a geared head at the time.

In post-processing, I did the aforementioned rotation and crop to achieve a better composition, as I was not able to spend the time to do so in the field as I normally would. Then my goal was to showcase the texture and pattern. Thus, I simplified the color palette by emphasizing the bluish-green tones of the leaves and excluding/shifting all other colors. There were a couple spots where other elements were intruding on the composition which I could not avoid, and those were manually painted the same color as the plant so that they would properly blend. 

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