Flowers are everywhere in the Cayman Islands. The Botanic Park is especially good as you can readily approach a huge variety of flowers, or you can purchase some freshly cut flowers to allow you unending creativity. Here are some ideas for you to try with any camera, anywhere.
Get a macro lens for your SLR or use the macro mode that is found on most compact cameras to get as close as possible to your flower. Get close enough to fill the frame, or even closer to enlarge a smaller portion of the flower.
Use the “flower” scene mode if your camera has one. This not only puts the camera into a “macro” mode but also adjust the colours to make them brighter and more saturated. It adjusts your reds and greens to make them really pop in your pictures. These are actions that you can also do later yourself in a photo editing program.
Blur the background. A sharply focused flower will look better against a background that is completely blurred. To do this, put your camera in Aperture Priority Mode or “A” on the command dial or use manual mode to control the aperture of the lens.
The larger the aperture, the less depth of field there will be. Open aperture to a wide setting like f/3.5 or 4 to reduce depth of field and thus blur the background.
A long telephoto lens will increase help blur the background. The narrower the picture angle of the lens, the less depth of field you will get at any given focused distance. This reduced depth of field blurs the background for a soft, less distracting look.
If you have a DSLR or camera that has interchangeable lenses, you can get a Lensbaby lens which can easily blur the background completely. They are very reasonably priced and offer a lot of creative photo options.
Change the background. Use a cloth backdrop draped over a box, or hold a white board (from an office supply store) far enough away that it is fully blurred. Lie on your back to get an upward angle against the sky, or aim so that the sun is directly behind your flower.
The ideas are endless, so start experimenting to find the setting that makes your flower look incredibly beautiful.
Add some action. If there are bees, butterflies or even a bird like a bananaquit, active in your garden, use a tripod, and a camera with a very long lens or zoom to catch the interaction. When set up, practice panning from one distant flower to another so that when the insect lands, you will be ready to shoot.
Adjust the tripod so that you are nearly level with the flower and see if that is your best angle. Get an umbrella for you and the camera so that you don’t both bake in the sunlight during your long wait. This is not an easy photo but well worth the wait and the effort.
Use a tripod even when you are shooting without your long lens. It eliminates the blur from your movement, and is especially important when you are shooting without a flash. Choose a day when it is not windy, to reduce the blur from subject movement.
Although flowers are best known for their beautiful colours, experiment with black and white. Green plant leaves that look boring in colour may show a wonderful pattern in black and white. You can take the picture in the camera’s black and white setting or you can convert later with your photo editing software found in most editing programs. If it still looks boring, continue to makes adjustments and changes to select portions of the image.
Be patient. Spend some time at the Botanical Park or even your back yard and look around at all the plants and flowers and bugs and birds. Look for fresh flowers that have not started to wilt and still have all of their petals. Look at what is behind the flower.
If this is your own garden, you can trim or move things to isolate the flower and eliminate distractions around it.
Watch the weather. A high sun can create strong shadows for dynamic photos, but a cloudy day can create soft lighting for a totally different soothing, lovely photo. If it is too bright out, hold a piece of white translucent plastic over the flower to create a soft light, or use a white board to reflect sunlight from the side or below to fill in harsh shadows. If your yard can see the setting sun, try photos with this warm crepuscular light.
Raindrops add drama. If it has not been raining, use a spray bottle with water. You may even experiment with different colored water on a white petal. From “Hub’s Photography tips” I learned that using a nasal spray bottle is easy to keep in your camera bag and provides a fine mist that is easy to control.
Shoot, shoot and shoot some more. The more pictures you take, the better you will get provided you look at each photograph and ask, “How can I make that better?” Make a change and take another photo.
If you need some help understanding topics like adjusting exposures and using flash, or you would like us to help you critique your photos, come to Cathy Church’s Photo Centre for a group class or your own private class. Bring your photos and we can help you get to the next level!