Up Close and Personal

There are flowers popping up all over the place and now is the time to take advantage of this display before the heat of summer comes to Texas.

I like shooting on a cloudy day or in shade to avoid the harsh sunlight and deep shadows that can sometimes detract from your shots. And if you are finding that your flower photos are not what you had anticipated, try moving in closer and isolating just one flower or a small group of flowers. Sometimes an overall view of a garden is beautiful but the “wow factor” may not be prevalent until you focus on a single flower such as the ones taken by Debbie and Tess.

When you get closer to a flower be aware of what specifically you want in focus and also be aware of the background. A busy background can ruin a photo and by the same token, a soft muted background in a similar color or even a contrasting color can make an image pop. On the macro shot of the droplet of water on the purple flower, I placed purple on top of purple. Be aware of what is going on in the background. If you don’t like what you are seeing move your point of view or choose another flower. Also be aware, the closer you get to a blossom, the more evident any flaws will be. Avoid ragged petals or spotted petals and find a more pristine flower to shoot. For some reason, it is easy to miss this in the field but it will be quite evident when you put your photo on the computer. You will see an example of this in the last photo of mine that is posted. I did not see that less than perfect blossom until I posted it to the computer.

Learn to shoot in aperture priority and then go to your camera instruction book and find your depth-of-field preview button and experiment using this to better have an idea of how much of your photo is in focus as seen through the view finder. Be aware that when you do this, the lens will stop down to the settings you have set, so a higher f-stop (for example f-16 as opposed to f-5.6) would cause your view to darken when previewing the depth-of field. This will not indicate the exposure of the actual photo but will simply let you discern how much of your photo is in focus or not in focus. I have an example coming up where pretty much the only thing in focus are the stamens of the yellow columbine and I was able to see this when previewing the depth-of-field. Learn to use this. It will be your “friend”.

Also make use of cropping an image for better composition and this can also be helpful in removing distracting elements in your photo.  If you look at the following photos, be aware that some are rectangular (vertical and horizontal) and one is nearly square in dimensions.

Let me post some of the flowers I shot the day we visited the arboretum.

Purple Splendor (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Purple Splendor
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Columbine (Photo by Fay/Lala)

(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Pretty in Pink (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Pretty in Pink
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Spring Bouquet (Photo by Fay/Lala)

Spring Bouquet
(Photo by Fay/Lala)

Now take your flower photography one step further. Check out the flower photography by Barbara Kile. I recently attended a slide presentation that she gave on shooting flowers and she brought out the “personality” and inspiration of shooting not necessarily the entire flower. This is something we need to experiment with. Check out her website which can also be found on the right side of the blog under Favorite Photo Sites.


12 thoughts on “Up Close and Personal

  1. Also, keep in mind you can achieve award winning photos even on a less than stellar day as Fay got her award winning “Purple Splendor” because she made the effort on a cold/wet, less-than-ideal-conditions day.

  2. Fay,
    Thanks for the info! I do not have a DOF preview on my camera. I try to just take a shot and then immediately grab my hoodman to check the display. It’s not always easy to tell. I know what you mean about getting home and seeing all the things that went wrong when you load them on the computer!!! I have this happen quite a bit to me! It’s frustrating but I usually learn from it!

    You have some great images! My favorite Is the first one!!! I love how you framed it and the softly blurred background really makes this a very appealing image!!!

  3. Thanks Lorraine!
    Are you sure your camera doesn’t have one? On the Canon it is not real obvious as mine is on the left side of the camera next to where the lens screws on. It is just a little tiny button you press.

    • Fay,
      Yes, I am sure my camera doesn’t have one. Mike even checked it out and said it didn’t. Mike does have it on his camera which is considered a prosumer camera. Mine is an consumer DSLR.

      In my post earlier I mean’t to tell you that I really loved the soft purple background on your first image. I left out the purple! Please don’t tell Merrie! ( Ha Ha)

  4. Lala,
    I’m so excited every time you will announce any photo day because I know that aside from the fun and laughter, there will be another learning opportunity that we get from you. That freezing day I learned this, and the forced blur. It was so cool and fun.
    Thank you so much for sharing with us all bits of your vast talent.
    Of course I love all your pictures.

    • Thanks a lot Tessie! You “guys” keep me on my toes and encourage me to research and try new things that I otherwise might not have tried. Photography is such a challenge but so much fun!

  5. So pretty Fay, thanks for the detailed explanation, I am going to have to make some time this spring to get out and shoot!

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