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Friday, May 7, 2010

Mini-Tutorial: Photographing Flowers

Hey there! Welcome to my first ever mini-tutorial. Since today is the last day to get in on the action over at my photo challenge and the theme is flowers I thought it might be fun to offer a little mini-tutorial on the subject. I'm not an expert by any means but I do have a few little tips that will {hopefully} help some of y'all!

1) Choose your subject carefully - choose a clean, undamaged, flower. Check your subject carefully for anything that is going to distract from your image.

this is a dirty, slightly damaged flower and that dead leaf is a big distration

I don't aim for perfect, but I've noticed that trying to photograph an old, worn out flower is usually not very rewarding. I try to remember to always clear away any dirt or dead leaves/grass before I start shooting. It's also best to choose a subject that is in indirect sunlight. If you are trying to take a photo of a flower in harsh bright sunlight try to cast a shadow onto it, or force your flash.

this photo was taken in direct sunlight

3)Don't forget to check what's in your background. It's such a pain to start taking pictures of a subject only to realize that a neighbor's car is right behind it, disturbing my image. Also it's difficult to get a good shot if there is a lot of light behind your subject.

4) Check the settings on your camera. If you have a point and shoot camera, try turning the nob to "A" or the portrait setting. Some cameras also have a "macro" setting - those are all good to try out. If you have a DSLR camera with manual settings here are some tips: set a low ISO, and wide apeture (low f stop number-the lower your f stop the shallower your depth of field) check your white balance, you can make a pre-set white balance by setting your white balance to "pre" then taking a test shot focusing on something white (like a white sheet of paper). Also if you have a DSLR that can accept filters try using a Macro filter. It's much less expensive that using a macro lense and it improves the experience of nature photography by a mile!

this was taken using a macro filter

this is the same flower photographed without the macro filter

5) Take lots of pictures. Try different angles -choose ones that give you the best depth of field. Make sure that your focus is really sharp in at least one spot. Pay special attention to how the light shines on your subject differently at different angles. Lighting is one of the most important parts of photography. Also pay attention to how you frame your image. Smack dab in the center is okay, but if you off-center your subject in your image it will look so much better. This is called the "rule of thirds".

this subject is slightly off-center

If you are using a point-and-shoot camera you can focus your camera by pushing your shutter button half-way then move your camera a little so your subject is off center and then push the shutter button the rest of the way. Make sure that your image is properly exposed, in a digital camera it's better to slightly under-expose your image and brighten in later than to over-expose and loose some details. You can try using the braketing feature on your camera - that feature is SO cool. On my Nikon D80 the "BKT" button is between the button that controls flash and the Auto/Manual focus switch.

6) Process your photo. There are so many different ways you can process your photo. A great place to start is uploading it to Pisca. You can experiment with using a soft focus effect and a vignette effect. You can play with the saturation, contrast and brightness these are things that can really improve the appeal of your image. If you're using a more advanced photo-processing program you can try using textures. Browse my Flickr site for links to lots of free textures. Something I like to do when I'm using a texture is use my transparency brush to make the texture over my flower very light. That is what I did in this photo. Also experiement with a creative crop.

this is the original photo

this is the same photo with a creative crop

The most important thing that I try to remember is to practice a lot, spend time gathering inspiration and learning from photographers who are better than me. And at the end of the day I want to go with what I think is beautiful rather than trying to copy what someone else has done and do what makes me happy!

there are a lot of things going wrong in this photo but it still makes me happy!

I'm sure that many of y'all have tips to offer on photographing flowers please leave a comment and share them! Or if you have any questions be sure to leave those too!


lovingmylife said...

Good tips

LeAnna said...

Can't even begin to describe how much I love my macro filters!!!! Awesome cheap alternative. I use mine on my 50mm lens, love, love, love it! Great tutorial!

Jenn said...

What a great tutorial! I love reading photography tips from others. Thanks so... much for sharing. Happy Friday! :)

beingzaraandzidan said...

Hey thats amazing! Love ur blog. Do visit me if u get a chance

Yellow House said...

I think it's time for me to get a 50mm lense. :) Thanks for the tips!

cwitgo said...

Thanks for the tips! I need all the help I can get.

Rachel said...

Fabulous tips and great pics. I enjoyed reading your process.

Carrie said...

I read about macro filters in a book ... now you *so* have me wanting to get one!! ;)