Broken Hearts

I photographed these bleeding hearts from my patio. To try to get the perfect photo with my 180mm macro lens, I set my camera on a tripod so that the flowers would line up as close as possible in the same plane. I then measured the distance from the flowers to the camera. Finding it to be about 36 inches, I pulled out my depth of field app and determined that at f-11, I would get 3/8” in focus; enough to keep all the flowers sharp. I set my ISO to 800 and the shutter speed to 1/45 second and made the shot. The photo above was the result.

I liked the image, but I wanted to make it different than all the other bleeding heart photos in the universe so I searched through some of my old photos and found one I made in Marfa, Texas of a stained-glass window in an old church. It was something most photographers would have discarded, but I keep everything, and, in this case, I was very happy I did.

I made a composite, placing the stained-glass photo on top of the other image, applied a mask, painted over it to reveal the flowers and changed the opacity to 12% and the fill to 70% The result was better than I could have hoped for. I effectively changed the background while adding meaning to the image.

The glass window includes an inscription that says: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of E.F. King Jr. 1918-1944”. It also has an image of a young “crusader” complete with shield and sword.

The final image tells a story of a family with broken hearts at the loss of the first son of the King family and their faith in God. For me, it makes a much more powerful image than what came out of the camera.

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