Hey, garden friends! If you are anything like me, you love to take any camera you have outside to capture the beauty of plants and flowers — whether it’s a fancy Nikon or your iPhone camera. And, also if you are anything like me, sometimes you take take good images and sometimes you don’t, right? It seems to be a bit of a crap shoot sometimes. Lucky for you (and me!), my friend and colleague, noted photographer Saxon Holt, is going to help us out. He’s giving us a macro photography tip plus the chance to win the 2nd of his 4 ebooks, “Think Like a Camera.” I am so happy and honored to share with you now Saxon’s post, “Photographing the Last Flowers of Summer” — comment at the end to win a copy of his ebook, and good luck!
Photographing the Last Flowers of Summer
It’s still summer. It may be September and the kids are back at school, but in the garden, the summer flowers are still hanging on. That may be all they are doing, amidst an overgrown, tired, and “I’m ready to shut down” garden.
For photographers, macro photography comes to the rescue. We can almost always find something in flower this time of year – maybe in a container on the patio, some late coneflowers, autumn asters, or annuals you have kept deadheaded and blooming all summer.
No matter what time of year, keep in mind a few tips so the flower stands out from the background. Don’t just look at the flower, think about what is behind it. Especially now when the backgrounds may be raggedly and distracting.
In the coneflower photo above I came around the side so I could put the path behind it.
In macro photography you can also help yourself by creating soft backgrounds with a shallow depth of field setting in your lens. Good depth of field, sharpness front to back, is an asset for landscape photographs, but for close-ups, great depth is not only impossible, it can be a distraction.
Since only one area will be in sharp focus in close-up photography you can use the blurry areas to your advantage, to bring attention to the flower.
Often a flower portrait will be much more realistic if you think about it as a botanic illustration. Rather than look down on the flower, get at its level and see it as a profile.
There are certainly times when looking straight down into a flower creates dynamic abstract macro patterns, but often I am trying to illustrate how a plant grows. Getting down to the same level as the flower creates a realistic view.
Yes, this low angle requires getting down to it, even down to a belly shot, and you may be as tired as the garden this time of year. After you have your shot, stay down, enjoy the end of summer.
Thank you, Saxon, for sharing your amazing photography tips with us — I have admired your photography for years now, and still have so much to learn about taking good, crisp and effective photos when I’m in the garden. I hope you all learned a few things about photographing flowers wherever you happen to be — and remember, leave a comment to win a copy of Saxon’s ebook “Think Like A Camera!” The giveaway is open until Wednesday, September 16 at midnight CST, after which I will randomly choose two winners to receive a code to download Saxon’s ebook. Please remember to leave a name and email address so I can contact you should you win! You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had to choose another winner because I couldn’t get a hold of the original one. Good luck, everyone — and get that camera out to the garden!
To view more photography tips from Saxon, visit these other blogs who are also participating in giveaways of Saxon’s other ebooks:
Wednesday, 9/9 Red Dirt Ramblings (Dee Nash)
Thursday, 9/10 Digging (Pam Penick)
Monday, 9/14 North Coast Gardening (Genevieve Schmidt)
Tuesday, 9/15 Cold Climate Gardening (Kathy Purdy)
Wednesday, 9/16 Garden Rant