Flower Photography Course

Last Saturday I signed up for a course on flower photography. "The Art and Science of Flower Photography" given by Natilie Green of Aperture Photo in conjunction with Linneaus Teaching Gardens at Woodland Hills Park.  I was a bit concerned that there would not be enough flowers due to the early season.  I was right. I was only able to find two blooming flowers.  With twenty or so photographers vying for access to the Orchid. I'm not sure how many found the red flower.  

The red Flower was the first flower I saw was interesting for it's strong side lighting.  The sun was very bright and I was using an old FD 100 mm Macro lens adapted to my Canon EOS 7D.  The effective focal length was 167 mm. I had the camera on manual so that I had a bit of trouble remembering to check the exposure but it was not too bad.  Unfortunately I did not get the names of the flowers. So here is the first image.  I just call it a red flower

Cropped Red FlowerThe image of the other flower, an orchid, was a bit more challenging.  Apart from scrambling with the other 20 photographers for the blossoming Orchid I had To cope with the fact that the bloom are was enormous.  I decided to try a multi frame image and so I covered is (the image) several times.  I took some 50 frames.  I thought that the software would cope and split the group of images into its respective scans but no. it first generated a composite of all 50 images which of course lacked all sharpness.  I fine that too many frames make a picture blurry.  So I had to manually select a few.  The image below is composed of the last 10 frames I shot.



So I decided I had spent enough time with this flower and went out of the greenhouse to walk about the grounds and see what I could see. Not much caught my eye, though I am always looking for a panorama. The Koi fish were out but very torpid.  No luck there.  I was able to find a landscape with enough color to make it interesting although it had a large number of leafless bushes still standing. It is a single frame shot, not a composite:


ILandscape in Linneaus Garden

I also found some water features which provided a bit of interest.  The problem with the pan was that I failed to cover the image area completely and had to crop more than I liked.  Not covering the picture unifiormly is due to a lack of discipline -- i'm just not mechanical enough when shooting.

Here is the landscape panorama:


and here is a image of the waterfall feature


Water Feature


So thats about all I was able to accomplish last Saturday. I and still looking at the orcid to see if I can do better. We shall see as time goes by.


While not part of the course I was looking back over my files and thought I'd add some comments on things that I have noticed over the last few years.


The first thing is that flowers in the wild are not always perfect. So shooting blooming flowers in a garden municipal or private you will run into decay. Imperfections and even old dead blooms.  The Municipal Gardens at Tulsa do no seem to dead head their Roses.  I don't know if this is for some horticultural purpose or just lack of volunteers or available labor. Below are some examples of blossoms which I photographed thinking them to be fine until I got them in the computer.


Flawed flower Photo



And another one:

Ros showing dead material

Another Item that I have found little control over in garden settings is light angle.  The only thing you can do is pick the time of the shooting.  I suppose you could use shades and equipment to reflect the light but the gardeners will frown on it.  At Linneaus it was strictly "STAY ON THE SIDEWALK".  Not that I haven't seen people tromp out into the beds to get a shot.

Here is an example of a side lit Rose bud:


Side Lit Rose


One of the problem encountered when you stat into macro photography in Depth of field.  It seems the longr the lens and the wider the aperature the shallower the depth of field. In the case of flowers one solution is to shoot a series of images with differing focal points and combine them with Photoshop. version CS4 on seems to have the necessary dode.  Here is an example 14 images combined to one:


Focus Stack



Well I will continue my comments after the second day of the course.  We moved over to the conservatory where there were a number of different settings ranging from a misty noth room to a cactus filled south room. Quite a number of Items to photograph but still croweded with photographers and some members of the general public. I concentrated on improving my techigue for shooting hand held multi Image shots of various large blooms. Expetimented a bit with [atterns -- just thorny cactus and ferns.  Palms seem to be easy but I could not get too into it. bewlow are some of the images I created:

Anthurium a colorful large blossom




Anthorium No 2



I admit tp being facinaated by the spines.  Reminds me of a trip I made with Bob Schiewe to Catalina where He tried to demonstraight how to eat a prickly pear we found near the airport Tarmack. Got a mouth full of spines for his trouble.  A nother ting I have better sence than to do eat cactus!


I found the barrel cactus pretty interesting as well. It gave me an excuse to try Luminance Masks for the first time.  I could not get the shadows visable enough to suit me with out blowing the hilights out with the normal adjustment layers so I resorted to Luminance masks.  It seems to have worked although I can not see how.  I have not been able to seperate the luminance mask and Its associated adjustment so I can switch it on and off.  I am obviously missing something here. But Ihope to get some beter info next week when we are supposed to have a Photoshop Expert there. 

In Any event here is my first effort:

Barrel Cactus


 I didnt brighten it too much but you can now see the groves.