[/caption] Beautiful Dahlia flower on a beautiful late summer afternoon in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. The color of this particular dahlia is so awesome that I spent several minutes photographing it. The orange and yellow colors are so perfectly organized that it almost looks like a painting or air brushed photo. I did saturate some of the colors but other than that, it’s fairly raw. All of you macro photographers know how intoxicating it can be when you find the perfect subjects to photograph and flowers are no exception. The Dahlia festival in the Willamette Valley, Oregon offers some of the most amazing photography opportunities I have ever seen and you won’t be disappointed. Just make sure that you bring ALL of your macro lenses and plan on going on a sunny day. Since dahlia’s like the warm weather and bloom during late summer, you are almost guaranteed a beautiful sunny day during the month of September in Oregon. To get this shot I attached my Sigma 50mm mcro/prime lens and also attached my UV and warming filter. I kept the camera in Program/Normal mode and also kept the ISO at 100. The only thing that I change when needed is the White Balance and for this shot I kept it at 0. The aperture was automatically set at F-4 and the shutter priority was at 1/100 of a second. It’s best to visit during the morning since the sun is a bit lower in the sky and the dew on the flowers offer even better photo opportunities. The crowds are also almost non existent as well.
[/caption] This is another photo of a Dahlia that was taken at the Canby Dahlia Festival in Canby, Oregon. I was looking for a unique shot of one of the flowers with the blue sky in the background so I decided to crouch down on my knees and angle the camera at about a 90 degree angle. I wanted to get as much of the sky in the background without cutting off too much of the dahlia so I made sure to move close enough to the flower without losing any of the field of view. I was using my Sigma 50mm prime/macro lens so I wasn’t able to zoom. However, I was able to get as far away or as close as I needed to in order to get the perfect shot. I’m about a foot from the flower and the lens didn’t need much time to focus since the subject stands out like a battle ship. My Sigma lens doesn’t have IS and since I wasn’t using a tripod I made sure to remove the CIR-PL and keep a steady hand in order to avoid any blur or camera shake. I kept the ISO at 100 and played with the white balance until I was satisfied. Since I always check the histogram after every photo I take it’s easy to decide on which is the best shot to keep.
[/caption] One of the best ways to get a really good and tack sharp close-up photograph of a flower is by attaching a macro/prime lens and utilizing your cameras settings in order to ensure that you take only the best photos as possible. I have a 50mm lens and never attach it to my tripod when I’m taking macro photos of flowers or insects. You always want to be sure and use your histogram since it’s one of the most important things that you can do in order to eliminate photos that you will just end up deleting when you get home. The histogram also helps you learn ways to change settings in order to take a good photo. You will also want to attach a warming filter and remove the CIR-PL if it’s attached. I almost never use a tripod since I want to be able to move around a lot and get into some very peculiar positions in order to get the best and most unique photos. A tripod is too cumbersome and can limit the angles that you can get the best photos. However, sometimes it’s appropriate to use a tripod but 95% percent of the time I won’t use a tripod when I’m taking photos of flowers or other close-up shots. Since you also want to try and keep the ISO at 100, you will want to get comfortable with the white balance setting since it’s the best way to brighten the photo without having to increase the ISO. I also set the camera to Program/Normal mode in order to make sure the camera focuses on the spot I want to ensure is in focus. The close-up setting won’t always focus on the part of your subject that you will want to focus on and will hamper your abilities. It’s also important to attach a battery pack on the body of your camera so you can have a large grip for vertical shots. I have a Canon T1i and I purchased the battery pack and only use it when I’m taking macro photos. And last but not least is to ensure that you keep a steady hand and always make sure that you take advantage of the lighting, background noise and color format of your subject. I normally put the sun in the back of my subject in order to get full light but look for shade in the subject that I’m photographing. This increases the chances that your subject will evolve into a great photo opportunity and have an awesome personality that will catch someones eye. Normally the pedals or the body of the flower will shade some of most of the direct sunlight but still allow the light to shine on the area of focus.
[/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] These wildflowers are currently growing and sprawling along a small wetland and under several fir trees in the neighborhood where I live. I have never seen so many of these small flowers flourish like this before. I’m not sure of the name of these flowers but I’m pretty sure they flourish in the forest. Due to their bright violet and dark white color they are pretty difficult to photograph since its easy to overexpose and they also tend to swoop down when they get big. I took this photo using my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens. I attached my warming filter in order to bring out the natural glow of the flower. Since I had to crouch down very low to the ground, I didn’t use a tripod or remote switch. I just made sure to keep a steady hand and ensured that the flower was in focus. The camera was in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was at F-2.8. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at +0.3 since it was raining very hard and the light was very low. Due to the lush canopy protecting the flowers I never had to worry about getting wet or the wind from blowing too hard. However, I did bring my spray bottle but once I got home and reviewed my photos I realized that I shouldn’t have sprayed any of the flowers since the water made the photo look somewhat blurry and out of focus. some of the rain drops did get some of the flowers wet but it gave more personality to the scene.
[/caption] Macro photography is best when able to get really close to flowers so you can show the intricate parts of the subject. Normally I will spray a flower with water in order to focus on a water droplet so it really brings out the character and color of the flower. However, whenever I am lucky enough to photograph a flower with an insect near it I try to focus on the insect rather than a water droplet. This is especially true since you usually can’t spray the flower without scaring off the insect or angering the bee. I wanted to try and have both the rose and the bee in focus when I took this shot so I decided not to use my 50mm marcro/prime lens and instead use my 18-55mm lens. I tried to get as close as I could without distorting the picture so I changed the camera menu to Program/Normal as opposed to close-up. I stood about 8 inches from the rose and increased the focal length to 55mm. I made sure that I had removed the warming filter and CIR-PL so I could eliminate the possibility of any camera shake/blur. Due to the shadow and low light the shutter speed was pretty slow at 1/83 second and the aperture was at F 6.4. Since the bee was about to fly away I wasn’t able to adjust the ISO or white balance. The ISO was at 100 and the white balance was at -0.3. I was somewhat disappointed that I wasn’t able to get more light from within the flower in order to enhance the bees body. But because I was facing the sun and there was some shadows blocking any direct light, I tried to use this to my advantage by eliminating any glare. This photo was taken at the Portland International Rose Test Garden just above downtown Portland. I have visited this park numerous times and I can spend hours photographing the thousands of roses dotting the isles. During springtime, before the roses bloom, you can photograph dozens of other types of flowers as well. The hills within the park are teaming with possibilities and I have found myself enveloped in the scenery.