Deal 9: Hacking Photography mega-deal
Earlier in the week I had the chance to sit down with a photographer whose specialty is photographing flowers. As I tend to do with pro photographers – picked his brain as we chatted and took as many notes as I could. Here’s what I gleaned from him and his flower photography experience:
By the way – he also recommended two flower photography books – Photographing Flowers: Inspiration*Equipment*Technique by Sue Bishop and Field Guide To Photographing Flowers by Rokach
Getting your gear together and in working order, choosing the right lens, having a tripod set up and then preparing to take the image. Pause and examine your subject before pressing the shutter. Some questions to ask:
One of the questions above is worth a little extra consideration – ‘what distractions are there in the background and foreground?’
Gardens are filled with all kinds of potential distractions. They might be the tool shed, a fence, other flowers, the clothes line etc. A decision needs to be made whether you want to include these elements or remove them from your shot. Either option is legitimate but in most cases you’ll probably want to remove them unless they in some way enhance your shot. There are a number of options open to you if you want to remove distractive elements:
Sometimes carcasses of flowers can present you with wonderful subject matter. While the perfect flower is the one you’ll probably be drawn to first sometimes the more interesting shot is the ‘ugly duckling’ beside it.
As in all types of photography you need to think about where you want your viewers eye to be drawn. Consider setting it off centre using the rule of thirds – but do find something in your frame that will grab your viewer’s eye and carefully think about how to position it.
Sometimes going in extra close and focussing in on a part of the flower can create wonderful and unusual images that take on an abstract quality. Look for contrasting colors, patterns and textures.
Sharp focus is important in all forms of photography but in flower Macro photography it is crucial and even a tiny adjustment can have massive implications for your shot as the depth of field is so small. In macro photography your depth of field is a game of millimetres so attention to detail in focussing is something to be worked upon.
Identify the point of interest that you want to be in focus and then work hard to ensure that it’s as sharp as possible. This can be a real challenge, especially outdoors on breezy days where you’ll probably end up taking a lot of images and relying on luck to some degree! You can improve your ‘luck’ a little by photographing in a more controlled environment (taking flowers inside for studio shots, shielding them from wind or just choosing to do your photography on a still day).
Ideally your subject will be wonderfully lit without you needing to offer any assistance, however the world of outdoor macro photography is often far from ideal and there might be a need to intervene with either artificial light or some kind of reflector.
Using a flash is something to experiment with. Generally you’ll find that direct flash on automatic mode might wash photos out a little so consider using a flash diffuser and/or bouncing your flash off another object. I find that the more subtle and indirect the flash is the more natural your shots will look.
Reflectors can also be handy in shooting flowers as they give a nice, natural, diffused light into areas of your subject that might not be getting natural sunlight. Experiment with different colored reflectors as they can really impact the colors in your shot.
Point and Shoot Cameras – if you’re shooting with a point and shoot camera with no interchangeable lenses you’ll obviously have less options here. You will probably have the ability to switch your camera into macro mode (which will allow you to focus a little closer and will tell the camera to use a large aperture giving you a shallow depth of field). Some point and shoot cameras do have the option of a macro lens attachment also to allow closer focussing (see your owners manual).
DSLRs – if you have a camera that allows interchangeable lenses (DSLR and some prosumer cameras) you might like to consider buying a purpose built macro lens. Most of the major camera manufacturers offer a range of them. For example offers a number including ones at focal lengths of 50mm, 60mm, 100mm (the one I own), 180mm etc. Each will have it’s own specifications and strengths (do some careful research before buying). Obviously a shorter focal length means you need to get physically closer to your subject to really hone in on your subject while longer ones allow you to shoot from further back (helpful when photographing insects).
I hope that you’ve found the above notes from my chat with a Pro Flower Photographer helpful. We did cover a lot more ground but I can only type so fast! Feel free to add your own flower photography tips in comments below.
Don’t forget to check out the two books on flower photography – Photographing Flowers: Inspiration*Equipment*Technique by Sue Bishop and Field Guide To Photographing Flowers by Rokach.
December 22, 2012 12:34 am
Its simply amazing to see these natural beauties with such lovely colors.
October 23, 2012 08:26 am
Great re-post, flowers are always a pleasure to photograph.
September 25, 2012 03:56 am
i enjoy clickin flowers tooo....some of mine...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nehashaw/6832845268/in/photostream [shot wid my mobile phone]
August 31, 2012 10:11 am
Great weblog here! Also your website rather a lot up fast! What host are you using? Can I am getting your associate hyperlink in your host? I want my site loaded up as quickly as yours lol
August 5, 2012 02:15 am
Here's my Piccie
May 30, 2012 12:52 pm
[eimg url='https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/540527_358651344199778_250031551728' title='540527_358651344199778_250031551728']I am a huge fan of photographing flowers and like to switch out lenses to get the look I want. This was taken as a portrait of a flower :)
March 16, 2012 04:51 pm
Close-up photography is now a lot more powerful and exciting than ever before. That's because recent advances in digital photography now make it possible to produce close-up photographs that have both high resolution and large depth of field.
Depth of field has always been a big problem when photographing small things. Stopping down the lens gives more depth of field, but only to a certain point. Stopping down too much just makes the entire image fuzzy because of diffraction effects. When photographing something the size of a entire housefly, the optimum point is typically f/8 or wider, and the useful depth of field ("depth of detail") for a single picture is often 0.1 mm or less. The problem becomes more severe with greater magnifications.
So, when using traditional photographic techniques, the challenge has always been “to determine the optimum lens aperture for effecting the golden mean between stopping down the lens for depth of field and opening it up for good resolution.”
Recent advances in digital photography greatly relax this tradeoff between resolution and depth of field.
The concept is simple. Instead of shooting one picture with a carefully chosen focus plane, you shoot a “stack” of multiple pictures, sweeping the focus plane through every place where you want to see detail. Some sophisticated but easy to use software then processes the stack, picking out the in-focus portions and combining them into a single picture that has both high resolution and large depth of field.
January 30, 2012 05:40 am
very beautiful flowers flowers,
January 26, 2012 03:28 pm
There are no words left, I'am truly speechless towards there beauty .
December 31, 2011 05:10 am
Great tips! I just love macro photography!
December 5, 2011 01:31 am
I will tell you all a little secret. Several years ago i suffered a bout of depression. Refusing to take pills i upgraded my DSLR and started taking photographs of flowers. Over a short period i was doing some fantastic stuff with my macro and as the photos got better and better so did my return to normal life. In short i owe a hell of a lot to nature and even though this was a very dark period in my life, i can today look at my phtographs and get a lot of satisfaction from them.
November 29, 2011 05:23 pm
Great article! I two enjoy photographing flowers. Similar to what was mentioned above, I carry a few pieces of foam board with me. I use these to isolate the flower when needed, and make sure that I have one that is white to use as a fill light reflector. I paint the foam board different colors, you can also buy them that way, to complement or provide contrast to the subject. For me they hold up better than cardboard or construction paper, and you can cut them to whatever size suits your purpose. Very inexpensive too.
November 29, 2011 05:01 am
Hi Darren, Thanks for the '8' Questions on flower photos. I have been shooting flowers for many years. With Digital, you can now shoot shoot and shoot. Me,
7 of the 8 questions , I tend to do all the stuff , even with one flower. Or many.
It all depends on what you plan to shoot that day. Flowers are like people. You
nevr know what to expect...even when a gust of wind comes by. And even that
you can get an action shot, especially with Fox tails!!(the grass) Even with sunlight , you can walk around and do a 'quick' study and do all you can in a few min unless a bee or other incest shows up. When that happens you shoot cause insects give you a short time. I look thru the lens and do a close up walk around etc and shoot with all the knowledge you can.Angles , light, close ,not so close.
etc. I will look at the images right awayand look later. Then maybe a year after , there are some images you see that you never saw what you did first.. I tend to shoot more wide in Tiff or raw and then crop the way i want to later and do my own angles on the computer. I have 'Mac'. I can take one image and make over 200 different ones from the same image. Maybe up to a 1000. There are so many variations when shooting flowers I just go out and capture their personality like one would do with people. However, Beginners will need guidance and once they discover how to shoot their fav. images of flowers , their creativity will take
over. AND people out there All have their opinions on your shots. You can have
10 different shots of the same set of flowers and have 50 opinions from 50 public people. Us photographers tend to choose pics of a flower we see the way way we would shoot them. Our own fav. pics of a certain flower doesn't mean
everyone will like it and buy it. Of course, that is not news to you. You can have
award winning portraits and the person can still like your other mediocre pics
better than your award winning one. I guess to solve that is to take one picture
and 'no one' has a choice. And what photographer 'takes one picture'?? Ya right.
Any way , keep up the good work,...there is always room for creativity. That will never stop. Terry Hretsina
November 27, 2011 06:22 pm
I like and followed this article before preparing this flower pictures collection http://www.blog.pokkisam.com/content/beautiful-pictures-of-flowers
October 23, 2011 04:55 pm
geoff - read the last section of the article - it goes into lenses for point-n-shoot and DSLR cameras.
Personally I have a 105mm with macro function.
October 22, 2011 04:52 am
which is the best lens for taking close up photograph's of flowers and insect's
I would be greatful for the imformation.
I have an Olympus E-510 camera.
Thank you. Mr G.Pullin
October 21, 2011 11:10 pm
but i disagree that with point n shoot you cant shoot it. I have used a superzoom olympus c2100 and c730 for lovely bokeh, handheld macro shots. you can see it flickr.com/emaad . But i used a technique. i used full 10x zoom plus two closeup filters. It becomes a powerful macro machine :))
October 21, 2011 07:47 pm
great article. so much informative. A close-up lens on macro setting also does work perfectly especially in getting the finer details of the flower and catching the tinniest insect which a naked eye may not see.
October 21, 2011 05:25 am
Hey! great article... I'm a flower photographer too... there are also many hidden treasures when you go macro, like bugs or little drops... you never know.
October 21, 2011 02:40 am
I completely agree with David! If you could add the exif data it would be great help to understand how did you reach that point to get such good shots. I am still confused in many aspects of striking that balance of aperture and shutterspeed though I know the theory well. And I guess only practice can get me out of it. And thank you so much for such a wonderful knowledge bank on this subject. Learning a lot daily from this site.
October 20, 2011 01:09 am
I think one fact everyone is forgetting is that sometimes the details can be great but how good your point of interest looks also depends on the colour the out of focus background gives as a contrast.... a simple blue sky or dense bush can be nice to bring out the bright vibrant colours of the flowers... then again other times, the outline of same thing you are photographing (i.e. leaves of a tree) can add layers and depth into your photography that is often forgotten.
October 18, 2011 03:54 am
From the place where he died (Bleeding-heart Flower)
It's what sunflowers do
October 16, 2011 12:01 pm
Thanks for sharing the useful tips.
October 15, 2011 01:58 pm
Great article maybe I'll photograph some flowers tomorow. I find this article motivating
October 14, 2011 08:35 pm
I generally find photographing flowers a bit boring since it's one of those subjects we see too often, like sunsets. In the past I liked it more and so I can add another tip: experiment with black and white! This might seem unintuitive, since flowers are so colourful, but many flowers have the perfect clear lines and structures that are essential for getting a great b/w shot.
October 14, 2011 06:49 pm
I dont know why but I really do enjoy taking photos of plants, probably because growing them I am not very good. I have a bunch of photos, and that bunch is getting bigger. Have a look and tell me what you think, the EXIF data is still atached so you can always look at the information if it interests you.
I dont have a Makro lense right now, and since I like to be able shoot on the run as it were I dont see myself getting one iin the near future, it does mean I dont get those close shots but I will work on that over time, perhaps breed bigger flowers and bees :P
October 14, 2011 04:34 pm
I took this shot on a Nokia 5233.
Focal length 3.7mm
October 14, 2011 02:09 pm
I agree, do not be afraid to move distractions out of the shot.
Bird of Paradise Flowers in full bloom:
October 14, 2011 01:49 pm
October 14, 2011 11:19 am
Flowers are popular, and much tougher to photograph than they may seem to be. Great article.
October 14, 2011 11:16 am
my fav subject, thanks for sharing. :)
October 14, 2011 08:05 am
I don't normally like flower pictures, but those first two are quite amazing to me. It encourages me to go try to imitate the idea.
October 14, 2011 07:26 am
I really love making photos of flowers. This article gave me some new ideas apart from saving for a Canon 100mm macro.
April 22, 2010 04:38 am
love this article! i really like how there is an example included with each tip. it really helps! i think that it's also important to find a different point of view when taking pictures of flowers because that's what makes your picture stand out from the rest. anyone can use a macro lens and just take a picture of the flower, but if you have a different way of framing your pic, it makes all the difference.
December 16, 2009 05:49 pm
very helpful tips. thanks. i'll do flower photography tomorrow.
November 18, 2009 06:00 am
November 16, 2009 08:14 pm
I would recommend underexposing the shot slightly when taking close ups because you'd be surprised how much more detail comes out from the low lights, like ridges on petals and spaces in between stamens, etc. Found this out by accident actually, when bracketing shots of a dandelion. I much preferred the lower exposures, even though they were up to 1 stop below the metred spot. Hope this was helpful. J.
November 15, 2009 10:19 pm
I love photographing flowers. This article has given me insight into various aspects while photographing flowers. Thank you.
November 14, 2009 10:03 am
November 14, 2009 10:00 am
These are two of my favorite flower shots the first, of course, is a lily and the second a coral bell
November 14, 2009 05:48 am
Love the tips and the pics! Anytime I have a question about how to do something I can count on finding an answer here!
November 14, 2009 03:30 am
I am new to photography, but I have always loved taking pictures of flowers! I only have a point and shoot camera (hoping to get something better soon!) but this article was still very helpful!
November 14, 2009 01:49 am
Always nice: add some point of interest by including a nice insect ;)
November 14, 2009 01:47 am
Always nice: add some point of interest by including a nice insect ;)
November 14, 2009 01:47 am
Always nice: add some point of interest by including a nice insect ;)
November 14, 2009 01:41 am
Usefull tips for ammetures like us we can use your usefull tips and try to photograph butifull flowers.
November 13, 2009 09:21 pm
Point n shoot users can SHOCK dslr users with this tip.
1. If you have 10x zoom lens attach 2 closeup filters infront of lens
2. zoom to full 10x
3. Now you will feel you have a dedicated macro lens in your hands. you will get magnification from a distance much like canon 105mm macro lens.
November 13, 2009 04:19 am
Thank you for a great article and also thanks for all the comments. I learn as much from them as I do the article sometimes.
November 12, 2009 02:50 pm
Hi! Im Jesiree Dela Torre from the Philippines. I'm a newbie in photography though I have always wanted to do this new new hobby. In relation to this topic, I just wanted to share this shot I took using my Nikon D60 during one of my trips. Its a water plant named Lotus. I'd love to share more using the useful tips I get from DPS. Thanks! [img]undefined[/img][img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/mickhayjale/4079190045/in/set-72157622643050045/[/img]
November 12, 2009 08:44 am
backlighting give nice glow to the flower
November 12, 2009 02:48 am
Great information, I love macro work! I will be using some of this information in the spring to take more beautiful flower pictures. Thank you!
November 11, 2009 10:59 pm
Always a favorite subject! If you're into floral photography or want a great way to experiment, I'd suggest planting different flowers in individual pots that you can photograph when they're mature. This has several advantages for photographers : You can choose the type of flowers you think are the most photogenic, and you can easily rotate them around - place the pots higher or lower - or even move them to a completely different location if you want, allowing you to easily choose a background. You can have them in the sunrise in the morning, then move them into the sunset light later on. And if you had something like a hot-house, you could do this year-round.
Of course, it helps to know something about gardening and how to grow these things properly, but if you don't want to bother with it yourself, I'm sure most garden clubs would be glad to have photographers interested in taking high-quality shots of their work. In fact, maybe the local camera clubs should team-up with the local garden, kennel, sports and other clubs!
November 11, 2009 10:39 pm
Wonderful photo illustrations! I love photographing flowers.[img]http://lh4.ggpht.com/_kuV5VMZfKvA/St3D3uZQ2oI/AAAAAAAATbU/3bIbnHJdDVM/s512/P172.jpg[/img]
November 11, 2009 06:01 pm
I like H@ru's photo making the tulips look like giants. Very cool perspective. I find I like my Nikkor 50mm 1.8D lens best for flower photography even though I own the Nikkor AF-S 105mm VR Micro 2.8G lens.
November 11, 2009 03:18 pm
I picked up a Lens Baby Composer and Optics Kit recently. My experience is that you have to be patient with it and experiment with it a lot. I haven't had a lot of time recently, so I haven't been able to do that much with it. It does produce some pretty dreamy images though. One of these days (I hope) I'll start spending more time with it.
This is a very nice article with a load of helpful tips. One thing I have done is use both extension tubes and a macro lens (Canon EF-100mm f2.8) to get really close. A tripod is essential, and if there is any wind at all, be prepared to take a whole lot of pictures. The link below is one of a Crab Apple Tree blossom that's about 1/2" in size.
November 11, 2009 11:05 am
Lots of great advice here. As a longtime garden editor who has worked with some excellent shooters, I would suggest taking advantage of that special light in early morning or late afternoon. Some pros will even scout a garden to see how the sun travels across it during the day. After all, some flowers, such as the African iris, only unfold their petals for a brief time. Spending a little time at the location, at different times of day, can pay off.
November 11, 2009 10:19 am
Darren you certainly have great info.
I recommend this site to alot of friends. Not sure if any check it out , but they are missing a great deal of good info.
November 11, 2009 04:50 am
Use a Magnifying glass (a loupe), place it in front of your lens and you will get a nice shallow depth of field and the ability to make your subject appear bigger without the need of getting closer.
If you use a DSLR, the longer the focal length, the better... that way you will not have to get too close and get in the way of your lighting.
On a budget for DSLRs, extension tubes, magnifying glass (screw on the filter thread) and an adapter to reverse the lens.
November 11, 2009 03:17 am
Love this and it's all so very true. My practice subject besides my kids are flowers. Anyone's thoughts on a Lens Baby? I'm dreaming of these lenses!
November 11, 2009 02:44 am
hy i'm from romania,please help me raise money for the "nikon AF-S 18-105 f/3.5-5.6G vr" i can not afford to buy it. I have a Nikon D40 and love to have the 18-105 on it. please help me by clicking on the ADVERTISING at http://cipriangheorghe.8k.ro/index2.html (also here is my portfolio) One click means a lot to me. THANKS
September 8, 2009 03:40 am
Great and very insightful article about the difficult art of flower photographing.
Thanks for sharing!
April 14, 2009 11:22 pm
This article was really helpful for me. I'm a first year photoraphy student and I'm photographing flowers for my final submission next month and need all the help I can get! I love using shallow depth of field and these images really inspired me, I just wish I could get my colours as vivid as yours!
January 24, 2009 01:56 pm
Thank you for sharing your words, notes and experiences. Cheers!
July 10, 2008 06:16 pm
I like the photos very much. It helps me with my photographing. Thanks!
June 30, 2008 12:33 pm
which inspired me to paint again...not commercially but just displayed here at home.
i just wanna have your permission...if i can use this pics as inspiration for my next project.
thanks so much & mabuhay!
June 27, 2008 06:29 am
Wow! There is so much good info. here that I'm going to have to read this a few more times to get it all. :)
I LOVE taking flower pictures...as well as landscapes, and other nature scenes!
What advice do you have for a 17-year-old young lady (me!) who has a simple HP 525 (I think...) digital camera, and wants to start out by only using that - not thinking of investing in a fancy one yet?
I've already been experimenting on my own, but could use a few more tips. :)
Thanks so much!
"Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father who is in heaven." - Matthew 5:16
May 9, 2008 01:16 am
beatiful. nice picture taking :D
December 18, 2007 11:14 am
Thanks for the great article. I find a P and S can sometimes be better for unusual macros as the focusing distance is so close. Not having the camera up to your eye can lead to some interesting compositions, no need to get a dirty stomach ;)
December 13, 2007 10:04 am
Great article. I love photographing flowers and do a lot myself.
I use a set of macro extension tubes a lot with my floral photgraphy. I've written up an extensive look at macro extension tubes for DSLR cameras on my blog. Your readers might find it a useful companion article to this post.
Thanks for the invaluable advice!
December 9, 2007 01:24 pm
Don, thanks for the tip. Hadn't thought about it.... so right about background interference. Much rather do this than photoshop....
Also don't forget the backside of the flower... great texture and surprising color.
Know issues with cost of macros so found an almost new and added magnifying lens to get really unusual abstracts.
Spend a lot of time on the ground.
Thanks for all the good tips and comments.
December 4, 2007 06:12 pm
One thing that's always worked well for me is to carry a pack of colored construction paper with me in the field. That way I can use it to isolate an individual flower from a confusing background, and also sometimes enhance the shot by using a color complementary to the flower color itself. And yes, a momopod is a great tool.
December 3, 2007 05:14 pm
Well, it is always nice to read an article that reiterates techniques for set-up and composition that I have successfully used for the past 15 years.
I have been using a Canon T50 for 25 years and my new Canon SX 100 8.0 MP, 10 x Zoom should be delivered soon.
Hopefully, I will be able to transition to digital without too many problems. If old techniques are retained, I look forward to continuing excellant results in my photo shooting.
I will look to DPS for timely articles and tips on techniques to assist me along the way.
Before I go, Great Flower Pix!!
December 1, 2007 07:42 am
Wonderful tips and article. I enjoyed it!
I was just out photographing some faded and spent foliage today and found much beauty there. I think I need to get a lightweight monopod to tote around with me, as my SONY DSLR is so heavy!
November 30, 2007 12:55 am
Thanks for these tips. I love taking pictures of flowers and these photos are excellent.
November 29, 2007 06:26 pm
I'm a flower photographer and these tips are great. Point-and-shoot cameras these days have really powerful macros already. Some like the Canon Powershot S series have 0cm macro, which is just all sorts of wonderful.
For DSLRs, macro lenses would be sweet, but they're really expensive. I find that a close-up lens pretty much does the job.
November 29, 2007 12:33 pm
I always like playing with different angles and using different aperture settings to blur certain areas. great post!
November 29, 2007 07:17 am
i have absolutely no interest in flowers, but i read this article as i thought it'd help my photography in general, and i was right.
my biggest take aways:
"get your gear in working order" - messing around with equipment at zero hour is one of the biggest distractions, especially if someone has allowed you to take their photo.
"what distractions are there in the background/foreground" - something that's taking me a while to learn. the excitement of my subject and hitting the shutter hinders my thinking about other distractions in the frame.
thanks for a great article.
November 29, 2007 03:12 am
These are great tips. I love taking pictures of flowers but they don't always come out quite the way I want. (It's yet another reason to be grateful for digital photography--at least I'm not wasting film.) I've only got a point-and-shoot camera, but I carry it with me at all times so it's always available ... you never know when you'll come across a beautiful flower!
November 29, 2007 02:50 am
It is always helpful to have example photographs with the details in a caption as to the camera, lens, fstop, shutter speed, etc.
November 29, 2007 01:05 am
1. Macro lens
2. Look at #1.
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