It's that time again, and the daffodils and buttercups are almost ready to show themselves. We've had a really cold winter in many parts of the world this year, so having dashes of colour dotted around will really refresh the senses. Many of us love to snap the dragon-snaps, myself included, and making images that people love is extra rewarding.
When getting up close and personal with the pansies, make sure that the camera is set to macro. This tells the software to pay particular attention to detail. It won't like taking shots of landscapes in the mode, it's designed to make the most of the close up shots. Even a smartphone with a macro setting can take a great image, however the bigger and better the camera, the more scope and depth to the photographs.
If the shade from the camera is spoiling the flower, or if there is a shadow in the shot somewhere because of how close you are, just take a step back and apply the zoom. A tad of digital zoom won't do much damage, or if you have optical then take as much slack as you need. It's better to get a perfect image without the shadow. You can always turn around and face the flower from another direction, if its facing the right way. Placing the sun behind the flower brings out different qualities than from when it is in front or to the side.
Look for the weather conditions. Different light levels and sky colours will bring out various aspects of the flower, as will moisture in the air. Sometimes raindrops can make a great addition to plants in photography. Some photographers bring a spray bottle to moisten the plants before shooting them.
Make use of manual focus. The smart software will choose what it thinks is the best focal length, and we have the option to over-ride this function. Usually the smart focus does a good job but when we are taking a shot of something like a flower, the differences in length between various vital parts of it are very small. This makes it a bit trickier to find the perfect focus and so we can choose to set it ourselves. Just adjust the setting while watching the image and stop when it looks the best.
Focus stacking is a technique used when taking highly detailed shots. The camera is placed in a fixed position and then several photographs are taken at increasing degrees of focus. This then brings out the varying degrees of the image one at a time. This series of images can then be merged to produce one image in which all the clarity of each focal point is allowed to dominate. This requires software and a bit of experience working with layers. Some cameras have auto stacking functions which cut out all the hard work.
Play with perspectives. Sometimes a direct shot only gets the surface of a thing, and when we look at something from an unusual or stylised angle, the personality of an object can be revealed in better detail. The surroundings will change as the angle is altered, lines will flow and shading will evolve. Watch for correlations in the lines of the object and the lines of the background and see if there are any alignments that can be captured.
Last of all, have a lot of fun!!
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