[/caption] An extreme close-up of a water droplet hanging on an Iris flower offers a great macro opportunity. I wasn’t using a tripod so I had to be sure and remove my CIR-PL and keep a very steady hand. I was about 1/2 and inch from touching the flower so I made sure to keep a very steady hand so I wouldn’t end up with any camera shake or blur. I was able to keep the ISO at 100 and just made sure that I utilized the histogram each time I took a macro photograph. I did sharpen the photo in Adobe Photoshop and saturated the colors in the Iris to really bring out the colorful beauty of the flower.
[/caption] If you had the chance to visit the Schreiners garden, located just between Brooks and Keizer, Oregon, you were lucky enough to photograph some of the most unique Iris flowers in the world. They have mastered the art of hybrid’s and there are dozens of Iris’ to photograph. You will want to make sure and bring your macro/prime lens and leave your CIR-PL in the bag since you won’t want to have any camera shake or blur. I don’t use a tripod and I get as close as I can to the flowers in order to get the most brilliant photo as possible. Just make sure that you utilize your histogram and try to keep the ISO at 100 in order to keep the photo as tack sharp as possible.
[/caption] I’m not sure of the name of this flower but it caught my eye while visiting the Iris garden near Keizer, OR. The Schreiner’s Iris gardens, located between Brooks and Keizer, OR is one of the most amazing Iris gardens in the United States. They have a large garden with every possible type of hybrid Iris flower that you can think of. They also have several acres throughout their farm and I spent part of my morning walking my dog along the trails. I spend hours looking for the best photo opportunities and I usually end up taking over a thousand pictures within just a few hours. However, they also have several other types of flowers growing in the garden and this particular type of flower was growing as a 10 foot tall bush and had hundreds of these spiny flowers. Whenever I take close-up photos of flowers I always attach my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens and make sure to remove the CIR-PL but attach my warming filter. I almost never use a tripod since you don’t always need one and you can take a lot more photos without fumbling around with a tripod. I can get as close as 1 centimeter from a flower and get some pretty amazing shots. You just want to make sure and turn on your IS if your lens has one and be sure to keep a steady hand and utilize the light in order to ensure that you avoid any camera shake or blur. I also utilize the sharpening tool in Adobe photoshop to make the photo as crisp as possible. To get this shot, I attached my warming filter and UV filter in order to enhance the colors but remove any excess glare and noise from the bright sun. I set the ISO at 100 and kept the white balance at 0. Since the camera was in program/normal mode the aperture was set at F-5 and the shutter speed at 1/166 second. You can set your camera to the close-up setting but you won’t be able to adjust the white balance and the camera will automatically focus itself so I almost never use the close-up setting. I was facing towards the sun and it was about 12:30pm so I was able to take advantage of the glare and use it to my advantage. The lens was almost touching the flower but was far enough away to get the entire foreground in focus but kept the background out of focus. The backlight also created shadows in the inner part of the flower but kept the tips of the needles over saturated with sunlight. Again, I always use my histogram so I can review the shot I just took and then make any adjustments if needed.
I was amazed to find out how many different colors of Iris flowers were mixed to create some of the most beautiful hybrid Iris flowers that I have ever seen. I took this shot on 5/30/10 and posted a very detailed article on 6/2/10 about my trip to the Iris flower garden that’s located just north of Keizer, OR if anyone is interested. With all of the amazing colors of these flowers it allows a photographer hundreds of opportunities to capture the true personality that these flowers project. To get this shot I was using my Canon EOS T1i along with my Sigma 50mm Prime/Macro lens. The only filter that I was using was my UV and my Hoya 81B filter. You never want to use a CIR-PL when taking macro shots since it will create too much shadow and the shot will come out blurry. I was about 1 inch from the flower and I wasn’t using a tripod or remote switch. I don’t like using a tripod when taking most of my macro photos since it takes forever to set up and it’s not nearly as fun as getting right up close to your subject. As long as you have your settings correct and you allow enough light to avoid any blur you can master some pretty awesome shots. To ensure this I had set the camera to Program/Normal mode and made sure that the IS was on. The aperture was at F5.6, the ISO was at 200 and the white balance was at -0.7. Since the light was perfect the shutter speed came out at 1/256 second. I took the photo at about 12:05pm and I had the sun near my back so there was little to no shade to darken and blur the subject. Since I was using a prime lens I needed to concentrate and focus on one particular subject so I decided to focus in on the very bottom part of the orange tongue of the flower and the part of the dark purple that was just beneath the orange. This allowed me to focus on two separate parts of the flower without blurring the majority of the flower. I find that this is the best way to take full advantage of a Prime/Macro lens, especially when standing just cm or inches from your subject. I took well over 750 photos this day and I never seemed to run out of ways to shoot. A tripod would have really slowed me down and bored me as well. As long as you have a steady hand and can find the correct setting as well as lighting, a macro lens can really create a fun experience when photographing close subjects.
[/caption] So many people are tired of all the rain that we’ve had in Oregon during the month of May. I however, can’t love it any more. I have seen some of the most colorful and spectacular flowers during the month of May. The roses are stalling a bit but that just means that they will be more vibrant and resilient to the hot weather this summer. The spring flowers along the Gorge and the mountain foothills are amazing. On Sunday I spent most of my day at the Oregon Iris Festival, just north of Keizer. I forgot how many different types of colors there were. It’s pretty amazing how many hybrids they can grow. I lost count after about 20 different colors. They ranged from deep purple to bright white. They also smell like candy and each of them smell exactly the same. They are also one of the most alien looking flowers that I’ve photographed. They kind of look like the creature from the movie “Predator”. The same flower takes on several different images as you move about it. I picked one of them and photographed it 15 times and each time the flower looked different than the previous photo. I used my 50mm macro/prime lens to capture all of my macro shots. I never used a tripod since I am always moving and don’t want to spend all of my time setting up a tripod. I just make sure to remove my CIR-PL and only use my warming filter and the UV filter. The warming filter will ensure a more warming photo and will enhance every color of its subject. The CIR-PL will only make it harder to get a crisp shot since the shutter time needed will increase. To get this shot I set my ISO to 100 and kept the exposure level at about 0. the exposure time was at 1/512 seconds and the F stop was at 8. I was about 4 inches from the flower and I had set the menu to Auto Exposure. I was able to get several shots of the flowers with bumble bees and some lady bugs in the shots. It’s amazing how mellow insects are when you’re working with a macro lens. Now is the time to take advantage of the spring flowers throughout the Pacific Northwest.