Flower Photography- What To Do, What Not To Do

Can't Do With Out It

This morning, after a night of heavy rain, the sun shone through the scattered clouds and warmed the cool morning air. As I poured my regulation morning coffee, I shot a glance through my kitchen window and noticed how the sunlight seemed subdued, almost filtered. It was almost as if someone had turned down the intensity of the sun to allow for morning people like me, to get their bearings.

Doing photography for the past 8 years has taught me that subdued sunlight doesn’t happen all the time and is considered a fortunate thing. (It also happens to be Winter morning light too, which is why it looks so beautiful.) So I grabbed my camera and headed out to shoot the rose that’s starting to bloom. The one that I’ve been nurturing everyday so it will bloom for me.

When I lived in cold Melbourne, I never used to pray my roses would bloom. They just did, and abundantly I might add. But here in Queensland? Getting roses to grow is like, well, I don’t know what, but it a major pain in the butt.
It’s the climate change. My roses hated it. If they were people, they’d need a therapist to work out their issues. And they ‘d be peed off with me.

The problem with moving from a cold climate to a subtropical one is that the beautifully delicate, English cottage plants you love so much, wither and die in the intense sun. You are left with nothing but a brown stump where your best rose used to be. Amidst the frustration of this I decided I would not be beaten. Dammit, it I was going to have roses in my garden. So off to Bunnings I went.

(For those of you who do not know what Bunnings is, let me delight you. Bunnings is a gardeners paradise! Just think of anything associated with DIY home reno, gardening, planting, growing, mowing, busting your butt doing something around the house and Bunnings will have something to suit you. And the prices are dirt cheap. Righto, no plugs here, on with the story…)

Bear with me, I am getting to the photography part of all this.

I bought this stuff called “Sea Mungas.” Nope, not straight from the sea, but a brilliant “bring you back to life” fertiliser that seems to resurrect plants who are on their death-bed. Don’t ask me why it’s called “Sea Mungas”, I really don’t know.

“Ok, what the heck” I said pouring this stuff into the base of my beloved dead, brown stump of a rose and waited….

Within 4 weeks I was seeing tiny dark pink shoots spring forth from the dry, brown stick like rose plant. And within 4 weeks of that, look what sprung into life:

Beautiful Rose- Photo Copyright To Amy Renfrey

1/50 shutter speed
ISO 400
Focal Length 55mm
White Balance Auto

Ok so this is not a gardening blog, so how did I take this photo?

Well the first thing I did was examine the light I had to work with, that’s always the first thing you have to do before anything.

Secondly, I grabbed my camera, and thought about what types of shots I wanted. I aimed for nice clear close-ups without too much colour saturation. I can’t do much about the colour saturation because that’s the camera, and fortunately, not me.

Because the light was subdued, (I hope you were taking note of that), I chose a “middle of the road” ISO. Why? Well, simply because the sun was not blaring down and over exposing everything in sight, so I didn’t need to reduce the light sensitivity much. Also, there was sunlight present, so it would have been silly to whack it up to 1600. That would have potentially overexposed the picture.

Thirdly, I wanted detail and clarity so I stood in the way of the sun and shot the flower within my own shadow so the detail would be there. Plus I know how my camera behaves now, and it loves medium close up filtered shots it just likes it that way. Hey, I don’t argue with it, I just work with it.

Fourth and last point, because I was standing over the rose within 30 centimeters of it, without a tripod (because I was being a bit lazy) I knew that focus would be paramount. For this reason I made sure I had a relatively good shutter speed without diminishing the sharpness that a small aperture brings.

Photography is really about compromise sometimes. You gotta work with what you have got- especially outdoors. You can get the best lenses and camera gear in the world that make you look like you know what you are doing, but if you can’t work with light and be intelligent about it, then you are better off buying a point and shoot.

Sorry if you didn’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth. People hang a lot of expectation on the camera to do the performance for them, without being smart about working with light first. So do yourself a favour and be smart- work with light first, then get the gear.

This photo is copyrighted to Amy Renfrey

1/100 shutter speed
ISO 400
Focal Length 55mm
White Balance “Sunny”

Oh what the heck, I might as well put this one in too:

Maiden Hair- Picture copyright by Amy Renfrey

1/60 shutter speed
ISO 1600
Focal Length 55mm
White Balance “Sunny”.

And if anyone can tell me what this plant is, I’d be mighty grateful:

Photo Copyright By Amy Renfrey

1/60 shutter speed
ISO 1600
Focal Length 55mm
White Balance “Sunny”.


2 comments on “Flower Photography- What To Do, What Not To Do

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