While on a shoot and before putting my camera into action I like to spend time visualizing interesting compositions. I did this last weekend before photographing the desert wildflowers at Pikachu Peak State Park south of Casa Grande, AZ.
Like a carpet, the brilliant colours of the Mexican Goldpoppies and blue Arizona Lupines mingled amongst the saguaros, other cactus and rocks that would form the elements of my images. I noted several views that I thought would capture the beauty of this desert landscape. Looking into the sun the colours of the flowers were iridescent as they swayed in the breeze. This is what I wanted to capture.
Viewed looking toward the sun I would have to deal with a very high dynamic range of tones to render this composition effectively. With my camera set very low on my tripod and with my 12mm – 24mm lens set at 24mm I set up so that the sky would not be included in the image. I made a series of images while making exposure compensation adjustments. The best image would result when the ‘highlights’ indicator on my rear screen showed that no areas were blown out.
The image I favoured was a full 2 stops underexposed. Darkened, the depths of the image showed the saguaros and the undulations of the desert floor. However, in the foreground, rocks and the remnants of a dead cactus were properly exposed. And most importantly, the desert wildflowers were absolutely brilliant.