I think I’ve found my calling! Well, at least for this particular time in my life. In the last few months I’ve been engaged in flower photography and loving it. Who would have thought. Here’s just one of my images for you to enjoy.
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Watch the Flowers Grow
4 May 2021 7:46PM
Views : 157
Unique : 138
It is hard to beat nature, which is full of natural beauty, and no more so that with the glorious colour and texture of flowers and plants. They are a huge subject in themselves, so today a celebration of the mass of colour that they offer. I usually tackle flowers on a bright overcast day, and a few rain drops to enhance things still further can sometimes be an added bonus. Lenses are usually a telephoto zoom, as for most flowers a macro lens, although probably seeming an obvious choice, is not necessary. Most tele zooms will focus close enough, and the pulling power of say a 55-300mm zoom on crop format brings those flowers at the back of a large border into range.
At springtime our thoughts naturally lean towards flower photography, and none more so than bluebells, either as individual subjects or in carpets of blue. Often, but not exclusively found in woodlands, bluebells offer a magnetic attraction to photographers and as almost anything can be used to photograph them, from wide-angles to long telephotos, compact cameras to full-frame DSLRs, it’s something photographers of all levels can have a go at.
1. What Type Of Shots Should I Take?
How you treat them photographically depends on how densely-packed they are growing. In a woodland where they provide a carpet of blue flower heads, wide-angles can exemplify the extent of the blooms, and shooting with a small aperture will give a huge depth of field, rendering all the flowers in focus. A macro lens can hone in on details and individual flowers, wait for an insect to land on a bloom to give added interest.
2. How Can I Focus On Individual Flowers?
Telephoto lenses used at wide apertures can also give a narrow band of sharp bluebells amongst a sea of blur, with telephoto compression adding to the effect. This works best from low viewpoints, often only a few inches above the ground. Or your long lens can be well used to isolate individual flowers from their surrounds; often in a mass of bluebells, there will be some rogue colours – the most common being pink and white – focusing on these with a long telephoto at wide aperture will highlight the different colours, making them stand out among a sea of blue.
3. How Can I Get Creative?
For a different effect, try experimenting with camera movement, by setting a small aperture to enable a long exposure and panning the camera vertically through the exposure. Try smearing petroleum jelly on an old filter (NOT on the lens itself!) and swirl it round to give an abstract effect. You can also leave a clear patch in the middle to give an area of clarity in the picture, amidst a swirl of colour.
So…no excuses…no special equipment needs, just get out there, find some bluebells and interpret them in countless different ways.
I know one or two photographers with a very ‘professional’ attitude to any opportunity to take pictures: like Gil Grissom, they work the scene, leaving no opportunity untaken. The idea of not truing something possible is one they recoil from.
Myself, especially working with models, I like to leave one probably-good idea unused I want a reason to go back again, to finish the job. It seems silly, because my taking a picture won’t prevent someone else coming up with the idea fie minutes later, but it still feels as though sometimes I should walk away, leaving a few flowers unplucked.
When this idea came to me yesterday, it was a surprise. I have carried a camera all the time for most of my life, afraid I might miss something. And now I’ve decided that I will deliberately leave something unshot. It’s not the Deer Hunter syndrome, that it’s enough to have the shot in my sights, it’s a recognition that I don’t actually need to do it all.
It was one of those days when all of Creation seems to be arranged for my personal enjoyment: it would be possible to get thoroughly theological here… But the light was so perfect, the shadows just so… Those days don’t happen often. Today, it’s raining purposefully, and I recognise it as my kind of weather.
But there may be a few deliciously dripping flowers, just waiting for me. We’ll see.
Flower studies are a fantastic way to use our photographic skills, they are so rewarding for their beauty and their colours and also quite demanding of our technique. The obvious thought is that a macro lens would be ideal, and that can be true, but I have actually found that my lens of choice is the telephoto zoom. This is so much more versatile in terms of compositon and of course in its ability to pull in a frame filling shot from flowers right at the back of large herbaceous borders. So, on APS-C I use a 55-300mm lens and on full frame I use a 70-300mm. At the long end, clearly the smaller format has a greater reach, but in practice both do just fine. Lighting of choice is bright overcast and a few raindrops on the flowers can be an added bonus. By using overcast days the excessive contrast of direct sun can be avoided.
Here is the usual selection of examples, with names, and the Picture This app on my iPhone is fantastic for properly identifying the subject. So much better than books of images, none of which match what we have. I actually photograph the screen image and the app has no problems using that to identify.
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