How do you shoot a flower?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Overread, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Like the title says, how do you do it?
    I have been experimenting myself and currently this is how I do it:
    Use a tripod with focusing rail attached to the camera
    Use a macro capable lens set to macro mode - in my case the sigma 70-300mm
    Set the camera to mirror lock up mode and timer function (as I don't have a remote shutter release)
    Set the camera to manual focusing
    Set the camera to aperture priority mode
    Use the following settings: f16, ISO 100 (in still weather, with wind 200 or 400 depending on strength of wind).
    Use the popup flash with a bit of toilet paper in front (acting as a cheap diffuser) - this is one area that I have already identified as a "weakness" and a proper flash unit with diffuser would be the ideal
    Set exposure compensation to -1 (I am usually shooting in bright sunlight)
    Set flash exposure modification to -1

    So far this is how I am taking my shots, I tend to focus primarily on the centre of the flower.
    Now the only alteration to this that I tend to do is to stack 2 or more shots on top of each other, though I have only done this once so far.

    So is there anyway that I can modify the above methodology - are there any errors or values that I could change or any other settings I can use to help?

    If you want to see examples of my current work on this just check my blog - the last few posts in it are almost all flower taken like this

    Thanks
     
  2. D-50

    D-50 TPF Noob!

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    Your shots look very good. Sounds like your doing a good job at setting up. However, wWhen I shoot flowers I like to have a very shallow DOF. Ill use my 50mm and set it to 1.8 or my 70 to 200 and set it to 2.8. But that is just to get the look I like with just a part of the flower in focus. I find a shallow dof gives the shot more interest whereas something around f16 is just straight forward representation of the flower but that is just what I like.

    To answer your question though your doing everything fine. There is no right way to shoot a flower so dont get tunnel vision, change everything. Try a very slow shutter in the wind the movment of the flower against a static background may look very nic. Take a shot of a dead dandilion in the wind as all its seed blow away...etc.
     
  3. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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  4. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Hmmm, well when I shoot flowers I try and keep the process 100% organic or as organic as possible. Turning it into a mechanical operation just isn't for me. To me the flower is art already and my primary roll is to enjoy it. If I can somehow share that enjoyment with others through photography - hey that'd be cool. So I look at the flower. What's it saying? It IS an "expression" after all. Do I understand it's expression? Or is it just another flower to me? If I do then I try to figure out why I understood it and what I understood. Was it because it was new in the world, serving a purpose, survived in the face of chaotic diversity, was a significant part of a group, or lonely and forlorn, etc.? Probably most of that is projection but all things are indeed relative. The next step is to figure out why I came to those conclusions or had those thoughts. What about the environment or setting made me think those things? Was it the light, the other plants around it, it's condition, etc.? Then the final question comes:

    Can I capture one or more of those aspects given the equipment I have?

    If I can can answer any of the questions in the first part and I can answer yes or maybe to the question in the second part, I take the pic. Usually it's a series of variations on angle, proximity, and DOF. Otherwise I suck in the beauty and move along. Sometimes I find that my camera saw something cooler than I did or a completely different "expression" and I'm happy for those when they happen - I can enjoy the flower twice or see it in a different light (pun intended). ;) This was one such:

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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  6. christopher walrath

    christopher walrath No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have a tripod with an invertible shaft to get the camera closer to the ground if I so choose. Forgot to mention that, huh.
     
  7. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    I would stop thinking so hard about the process of it. Knowing your equipment well and what works (or not) helps allot. That's mostly practice tho me thinks.

    I liked this one allot:
    [​IMG]
    Link to Overread's Blog Shroom Photo.​

    The 1st image (pink wet flowers) is also good.
     
  8. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    thanks for the compliments Bifurcator!
    And thanks for the advice all - I guess at the moment I am still very new to this and I want to make certain that I am at least getting the technical side of my photography well under control. After that I am now starting to get my photographers eye in to see the shots and be a little more creative with my shooting. Kind of means making rules and then breaking them ;)
    Reading through peoples comments it seems as if I do have the technical side under control - time for the artistic.
    Oh and I don't see photography as a set of rules so much, but I tend to shoot mostly wildlife - where I tend to not have any time to setup a shot and take it, much more a case of shooting and hoping as they move around so much - recently I started with the macro and with flowers and I find it relaxing to be able to take time to get a shot and to set it up right, rather than just shoot and hope
     
  9. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Wildlife, ah so you can work the AF/AE Tracking well. That works well with flowers too! Set it on the spot of interest, position yourself, snap, move and retain the track point, snap, etc. Setting a fixed focus point cursor somewhere with the tilt-wheel-thingy is another good way too. Especially the tracking tho.. Really frees you up for adjusting your proximity and angle. Makes the process more fluid and fun. And remember... It's digital film so don't be afraid to shoot way more than you need and kill the others later... It's like free film... \(a.a)/ YAY!
     
  10. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    AF tracking I get - but back-up and explaint AE please?
    (remember new person here - still ;))
     
  11. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Ah, sorry, some (most?) cameras will allow you to set the exposure metering to center around and follow that little tracking cursor.

    AE = Auto Exposure (and also applies to the shutter or aperture automation while the camera is in either of the priority modes; S or A.)
     
  12. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Ahh I think I get you - though I tend to be an apature priority person and let the camera auto set the exposure based on changing shutter speed.
    And yes Shooting like a madman I do do - though I am trying to limit it a bit at the moment, focusing on quality and making shots count at the moment - also helps with storage space as everything is in RAW these days (that is PC storage I have a good 12GB of camera memory cards :))
    I think also with my sigma I have become tripod attached (seriously the sigma lens should come with a tripod I feel at times ;)) But its something to keep in mind for the future (very near now) proper macro lens
     

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