Flower Photography Tips
REMEMBER--PIXELS ARE FREE Rebecca Bozarth attended a session led by DPA Instructor, Ken Ross, at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and beautifully exemplified the old Photo Adage, that "Pixels Are Free" so take as many images as you can, from every angle because you may not have another chance!! In fact, as we should have guessed, Rebecca is not the typical Digital Photo Academy student. She is a professional photographer in Atlanta, Georgia, who owns her own design company, Fotografia Film & Design www.fotografiafilmanddesign.com. She is a SCAD Atlanta graduate, and specializes in photography, videography, graphic, and web design. Great opening image with colorful floating orbs in the foreground to anchor the eye of the viewer and lead first to the Chihuly glass structure with adequate attention to the waterfall and of course the magnificent plant lady. The entire scene is upon us without too much focus on a detail or too far away so the impact of the scene is lost. Remember, either with your lens or your body or both, get closer. In this case the image is still anchored by the floating orbs but not all 4 and there is greater emphasis on the chihuly AND waterfall. The plant lady is left in the shadows. Now after closer go further back. The plant lady is shown in the context of the broader setting and creates a different perspective of the way she dwarfs the Chihuly. Interesting perspective. The colorful flowers in the foreground, green leaves included add a brightness to the overall image and compliment the Chihuly. Now back even closer than before to isolate the Chihuly and its relationship to the waterfall, grey stone to accentuate the artwork, with drama added with a shutter speed priority to catch the water in midstream. Even closer to allow the viewer to make a comparison and closer still. This one would might be favored by Chihuli himself even though a portion of his work is cut off. Now an emphasis on the plant lady in a vertical, enabling the viewer to take greater note to the water from the lady's hand. Chihuly is nice but the image works without its presence too. Same notion but this time horizontally and the photographer has a choice as does the viewer of the photo. This time the colorful orbs are missing and it is a study in green, enhancing the focus on the lady's face and arm. Another vertical with some complimentary yellow in the hair and closer look at the face of the lady This Chihuly might even be a completely different display but why not add it in to show the Art Deco, opaque whimsy of the man's creation.
From Don Peters/ DPA instructor in Chicago To view more of his images please visit http://digitalphotoacademy.com/portfolio/donald-peters/ Nothing says “old and elegant” more than Charleston, S.C. in the springtime. This Southern church yard seemed to want to communicate that, but I felt something more was needed. So, I made an “HDR” image, using the menu setting on my Nikon to capture 5, rapid fire images at slightly different apertures. This enabled me, with the use of post processing (Photomatix) software, to produce a “tonemapped” image, yielding a much broader range to the image, capturing the extremes of the lightness of the flowers and the darkness of the tombstones and surrounding shadows. . (Nikon D300 (handheld) with 18-200mm Nikkor lens at 100mm, ISO 400, 1/500, 5 exposures bracketed +/ .7 f stop, then post processed in Photomatix).
Take lots of shots. Digital “film” is cheap. It’s easy to later weed out the culls -- and save the keepers
You can pick them from your garden and bring them in, borrow them from that birthday flower arrangement or buy a small bunch from the local grocer. A piece of putty (or even chewing gum!) can secure the stem and a “busy” background of fabric placed two or three feet behind the flower can serve as a dreamy background. Indoor shooting also offers wind-less conditions, and may offer easier options in changing the angle and rotation of the flower and creative control of the light coming through a nearby window, or add an artificial light source. Create an abstract using a group of flowers. Set camera to shutter priority and select a long shutter speed (about 1/4 to 1/2 second) and try one of the following with a hand held camera: -Simply “jiggle” the camera as if you had very shaky hands, or -“Drag” the lens in a straight (or diagonal) line across the flower bed and click the shutter while the camera is moving, or -With your zoom lens at its longest position, rotate the lens barrel in and click the shutter during that movement, or -If your camera has a multiple exposure feature, turn it on and rapidly take a number of shots, moving the camera slightly between each shot.
Outdoors, watch out for the wind (and try to block it from moving the flower, if possible). The slightest movement of the flower subject will be apparent in your image (unless a very high shutter speed is used). However, sometimes a “dreamy blur” of a moving flower can actually enhance the image! Consider using a hand-held reflector (as simple as a piece of white cardboard or gold or silver foil glued to card board) to enhance the lighting (usually from the side of) the flower opposite the main light source. This low-tech device is also handy to use as a small windbreak when held near the subject flower. The best quality of light for flower (and fall foliage) photography is overcast. Sunshine can make the flowers too contrasty and shadows harsh. Under a bright sun, consider using an umbrella or something similar to create shade.
Is there something interesting (e.g. a fern or another, nearby flower) that you’d like to be in focus or that you want out of focus? If the former, use a small (f16) aperture. If the latter, use a large aperture (f2.8). . A slight shift in the position of the camera can help create a “stacking” effect of blurred blossoms in front of and/or behind the flower in sharp focus. And, such a slight shift can eliminate a distraction from the background. If there’s a lot of green foliage in the shot, it often shows best with about a -2/3 exposure adjustment. The best camera angle is usually to get low—close to the level of the flower. Shots from too far above, “looking down” at the flower, are seldom compelling. Shots made from the level of the blossom, or even on your belly or your back (looking up) can often be more dramatic. Or, try laying the camera on its “back,” with the lens pointing skyward, among some flowers and capture the “worm’s-eye view” of the underside of the flower against the sky (pre-focus and then use the camera’s self-timer for this and dial in a “minus” exposure adjustment to under expose since the bright sky may tend to “fool” the camera’s internal meter).
This helps “separate” the subject from the background, rendering a blurred background. Or, try a “macro lens,” extension tubes or a quality “close-up filter” to achieve close focus. Before “settling in” and going for your great shots of that flower, take several quick test shots and review them on your camera’sLED screen to be sure you’ve got the exposure correct and you’ve got just the right amount of blur or sharpness that your seeking with regard to your subject and to the elements in the foreground or background. Then, fine tune your adjustments, perhaps retest again, and then go for it! Focus carefully on the flower (or the precise part of the flower) that you want to be tack sharp. It’s best to turn off the “auto focus” feature and manually focus until your eye confirms that the spot you want to be sharp is now in focus. Or, set your camera’s auto focus control to a single point and be sure that point is on the part of the flower that you want sharpest when you press the shutter.
In either mode, select an aperture for the amount of depth of field you desire for the shot: - Use a wide aperture (e.g. f2.8 or f4) for shallow depth of field to blur the area in front of and in back of the subject. - Use a small aperture (e.g. f16 or f22) for deeper depth of field so that foreground and/or background object remain sharp (or somewhat sharper) To avoid "camera shake" spoiling your image, try: - Using a fast shutter speed (1/500 or even faster), or - Using a tripod, or if not available, bracing the camera against some object (e.g. fence post), or - Setting your shutter to the "burst" setting, which fires off several frames rapidly when you depress the shutter (often one or more fraes of the burst will be sharp). Consider adjusting the ISO setting to achieve the aperture/shutter speed combination you desire. Remember the "triangle" (the interdependent relationship) between ISO, shutter speed and aperture.