Photographing plants, what do you think?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by G.T., May 21, 2010.

  1. G.T. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Ok I finally got out again with the camera, I'm not really sure how best to take interesting plant pictures. So here is some, what do u think?



    3. This was practicing a fill flash technique (with pop up flash though, want to get a good one at some point I know it would be easier/better)

    4. More fill flash practice

  2. G.T. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    The second set is a lot better than the first, but plant pictures are generally uninteresting unless you've got some unique perspective.
  4. G.T. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Yeah its hard to find something interesting about them other than maybe colour/shape. I suppose if there were wasp/bees or bus then it would be a bit more interesting as something is happening.
  5. JavierP macrumors regular

    Mar 17, 2008
    I like the 2nd one of the first set, the flower seems to be floating in the air. If it had better details on the center (out of focus?), it would be better
  6. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    Your photos are a good example of how the learning curve for photographing flowers works. Better and better as you try different things.

    Flowers are as pretty as any other scenery and harder to shoot. Try to get bunches of them in patterns, views of different kinds and colors in the same frame-all the same things you would do in any scenic shot.

    You have to isolate them, have dark backrounds behind the bright flowers, get the depth of field, the point of focus, decide on how much you want in focus... all pretty tough stuff.

    Use the aperture-preferred setting and try manual focus. Shoot at several aperture settings as it is hard, for me at least, to really get a totally accurate idea of the final look simply by looking through the viewfinder or even on the screen.

    Then there is the exposure. You often have too much exposure, a "flash look", on the flower itself because it tries to illuminate the dark backround. You can get a spot reading on the flower and go from there. Sometimes I put my finger over the flash to tone it down, others use gel filters of various kinds. I have also used manual exposure settings.

    So, some may think flowers are mundane but really they are amazing subjects and very difficult to photograph. When you see a good shot of one you know the photographer has some skills.
  7. G.T. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Thanks I do too. I did manual focus as the focusing kept going to background and think I moved forward though. I maybe should have used a smaller aperture to allow more in focus.

    Thanks I tried to vary different shots, it is harder than people think.

    Yeah did a mix of manual focus and varying aperture size.

    Yeah I used flash for only the 3rd and 4th image, I tried not to have the flash too bright, I did decrease the flash intensity but next time I will try cover with finger or use gel filter. Though it was the pop up flash so should get a better one.

    Any you like in particular/maybe would have taken differently?:eek:
  8. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    I like numbers 2 and 8, but I would have gotten a lot closer. I'm only a rank amateur, but I think one key thing with shooting flowers is to really fill the frame. There is a lot of amazing detail in flower petals, stamen, and pistils, and you need to capture that. At the very least, you need to capture the vibrancy and/or fragility of the flower, which is lost when you have too much background interfering with the frame.

    Just my two cents.
  9. jbg232 macrumors 65816


    Oct 15, 2007
    I also like the 2nd set better but there one major thing I'm noticing is the amount of light in these photos seems very off. I'm not sure what kind of set-up you're using but flowers look great with either dramatic lighting which can be very hard to or fill lighting with interesting composure (ideally interesting composure with dramatic lighting). I would try fill lighting and getting the composure right for some of these photos. Just my thoughts.
  10. G.T. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Agreed I would have gotten closer, but I only have a prime lens just now (f1.7 20mm - 40mm equiv.) I couldn't zoom and if I got closer I would have not been able to focus. Though I could crop the images more, they were 12mp RAW so cropping maybe half size will allow more detail 6mp is large enough if I was to print and as I was processing them they are clear enough so detail will be easier to see.

    Though I wouldn't want the flowers to fill too much of the frame as people might be unclear what the subject is (I don't mean not knowing its a flower, but thinking they are to look at something on the flower e.g. a beetle and in mine there was nothing to see).

    Yeah I only tried fill lighting for 2 of them, need a more appropriate flash.
  11. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    A longer lens is beneficial. I think a wide lens is the most difficult to use, but there are interesting effects if you can pull it off. I rarely can.

    Filling the frame is better for me, generally speaking. I dislike cropping because my rig doesn't have many MPs to start with.

    One of my problems is that I started with film and so got into the habit of being stingy with the photos because it cost me, had to change film and so on. Digital just begs you to shoot a hundred shots and experiment.

    My advice, that I don't follow like I should, is to write down the settings for your favorite shots so that you have a good starting point from then on.

    Lastly, I went to a garden park in Pasadena, Descanso Gardens, and of course there were a million flowers of all sorts in all kinds of light. I shot a lot of photos and got a lot better at it.
  12. G.T. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Thanks thats good advice :).
  13. G.T. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Shot a couple more during sunrise.


  14. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    Watch them there backrounds. Either look for an angle where the backround is dark or pay lots of attention to your depth of field so just the flower is in focus, either fully in focus or partially as you wish.

    Nikon has a lens I wish I had, the DCs. They can be set to defocus selected areas, I think both in front of and behind the subject. I really need to buy lottery tickets...
  15. gnd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2008
    At my cat's house
    Every lens, which is capable of shallow enough depth of field, is able to "defocus" selected areas both in front and behind the subject ... Both Canon and Nikon have a 50mm f/1.8 which is very cheap, around 100$, so really no need for lottery tickets ...
  16. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    I don't think you're familiar with this particular lenses (Nikon has a 105 mm and a 135 mm): it allows you to shift the blurryness away from the focal plane to put emphasis on the foreground or the background while keeping the focal plane where it is.
  17. esaleris macrumors 6502

    Oct 18, 2005
    I misread the title, but was fascinated at the concept of photographing planets and wanted to see how people do it!! LOL... Mars anybody?
  18. G.T. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Haha, a powerful telescope lens most likely but would love to see someones examples.
  19. The Mad Kiwi macrumors 6502

    Mar 15, 2006
    In Hell
    A couple of cheap things you might want to try are using a piece of white board or a small mirror to reflect some more light towards the flowers.

    If the light is coming in from the left then put the card on the right to reflect some more light on the flowers and fill in the shadows. If you use a mirror you'll get even more light, if you can get more light on the flower you dial down the exposure which will make the background darker.

    Twice as much light on the flower means the background can be dialed down a stop.

    Another fun way to shoot flowers is to pick 'em and put them in front of a black background in a dark room (not to close to the background or light will spill onto it), put your camera on a tripod or stool or table, take a long exposure 30 seconds. Then you use a torch to light the flower while the stutter is open, move the torch around the flower to light it how you like.

    They can come out kinda like this

    Attached Files:

  20. G.T. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Thanks for the tips, they are nice shots
  21. TheSVD macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2008
    The Jolly Ol' Midlands, England
    whilst, yes, most flower pictures are uninteresting, them still make for good photos. I think the majority of yours are beautiful, and really good shots. Are you new to photography by any chance? when i first got my camera i went around taking pictures of flowers thinking they were great, posted them here and everyone said the same - if they're not unique, they're not interesting! Doesn't mean they're not good photos though, well done :)

    Some of the first photos i took, no editing:


    see, they're nice, but not overly interesting. Perhaps this will inspire you to go out and find more interesting ways to photograph nature ;) Good luck! :)
  22. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    It's interesting that like others, I don't find pictures of flowers all that interesting to look at even though I consider flowers to be one of the most amazing creations nature has to offer. As photographers, what are we missing?

    Is it that a flower in isolation is not nearly as beautiful as several flowers either in an artificial or natural bouquet or arrangement?

    Or is it that a flower's natural beauty can only be appreciated in the context of its surroundings?

    Or does it have something to do with reducing such a beautiful three dimensional shape down to just two dimensions?

    I'm stumped.
  23. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

    May 5, 2007
    Most people walk by flowers and plants every day. They may be beautiful but we have seen them before, and we have learned not to appreciate them. Excellent plant photography should make you unlearn and force you to see a plant in a new, engaging way.

    There was this competition recently with some competent examples
  24. VirtualRain macrumors 603


    Aug 1, 2008
    Vancouver, BC
    Interesting... this is one of the winners from your link... I see what you mean!

  25. G.T. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 12, 2008
    Hey thanks, am I new to photography well yes and no. I got my GF1 a few months back so that is my first serious digital camera (so something of good image quality), I only in the last couple weeks thought of trying to photograph plants as I too sometimes find them boring but I thought it as a challenge.

    I've always had an interest in photography and maybe 5 years ago during school in activities week I did photography and used my parents SLR and got to actually develop the film I took. It was a lot of fun. After that and with camera phones being popular I've alway taken photos but alway tried to think of actual composition and make it interesting, even though the quality might be poor. I then received a canon EOS SLR which I practiced with.

    If you look back at some of my deviantart uploads (link in sig) and go to the early ones it'll say what was used to capture the image I aways tried to get worth while shots in terms of subject and composition regardless of image quality.

    This made me really think about what I want to do and so I got my GF1 and have tried to make it a real hobby with the hope one day I could make money with my images (or even just please people which is more important). I know I have a long was to go but in the last year I have really looked at rules and learned techniques to practice. I am very technical minded and so learning the function of how cameras work and how to use aperture, shutter speed etc has been fairly easy, though this forum helps when I'm stuck getting my head round things :). But hopefully you can see a steady progression in my images of me getting better. I'm studying Psychology at Uni but maybe through summer I could do a summer course as more peoples perspectives really help.

    Good questions.

    I agree and thanks for link.

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