|Photo Tip & Assignment #15 – FLOWERSFlowers must be one of the most photographed subjects in the world. “It is one of my favourite subjects” says Antonio Leanza, founder of LSP (image left). “One of the joys of spring is watching new leaves and blossoms come to life nearly everywhere you look”.
Flowers come in a great variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. A stroll in the park or a short drive in the country can result in a whole portfolio of images.
The first thing to think about is: what is your subject? Yes, it is flowers, but is it a flower field? an entire garden? a bouquet? a unique flower? a detail of a flower? Of course you can try all types, but it is important to focus on one thing at a time, as the choice of equipment, the composition and view point will vary a lot depending on your choice.
Once you have decided your subject, you can decide how to photograph it. If you chose a field of flowers or a garden, for example, think about an interesting composition. Avoid placing the horizon line right in the middle of the frame and use the rule of thirds instead. Look for leading lines, choose a foreground interest and make sure you set the correct aperture for more or less depth of field.
Depth of field (DOF) refers to the area of your photograph that will be in focus. This is very important to think about, as you can either isolate a subject from the whole scene by blurring background (or foreground), or show the whole scene in focus. DOF is affected by three factors: 1st. Aperture: The larger the aperture (smaller f/number), the smaller the DOF. 2nd. Focal Length: The larger the focal length (mm), the smaller the DOF. 3rd: Distance: The shorter the distance between you and the subject, the smaller the DOF.
For a flower field or garden, for example, it is more common to choose deep depth of field, which can be achieved by setting a large f/number (f/11 or more) with a wide angle lens (24 mm) and stepping back, or staying far from your subject.
Now if your subject is a single flower or a detail, to make it stand out from the rest of the scene, normally shallow DOF is used. This can be achieved by setting a small f/number (f/1.8 for ex.) with a standard or telephoto lens (50mm or more) and getting as close as you can from the subject.
Here is where MACRO lenses can be essential piece of equipment for those who enjoy flower photography. A MACRO lens allows the photographer to get physically close to a subject, contributing to shallow depth of field. The minimum distance you can be from a subject is usually written on the side of the lens (in meters and feet).
Compact cameras have amazing MACRO photography options and often allows the photographer to be as close as 1 cm or even less. The MACRO symbol on a compact camera is a little “flower” (no wonder). Now on DSLRs, the same “flower” symbol fould on the exposure dial (next to the other “scene” modes) doe NOT change the focusing distance, or how close the photographer can get from a subject. With a DLSR, you will need a MACRO lens.
The quality and direction of light must always be observed. Overcast days give a soft and diffused light, which is less challenging for photographers than hard light. On the other hand, bright days give a hard light, which can add a bit (or a lot) of drama to any image. Regarding the direction of light, the time of the day and the position of the sun in relation to the subject can give infinite possibilities. Front light flattens the subject, side light emphasises textures and details and back light often produces a halo, or aura, around the subject (it can be complemented with a fill light).
Upload your Flower images to the Flickr Gallery: ASSIGNMENT #15 for a chance to win an Evening Workshop Voucher at LSP*. Deadline 31/May/13
Photo: Antonio Leanza / Text: Luciana Franzolin