The Cherry Blossom’s have made an early display in the Pacific Northwest and it looks like the recent rains have already closed down the show pretty early. Even though Spring just started, most of the blossom’s had started blooming several weeks ago. You can still find a few trees that bloom later than most but you will have to wait for a few days before the sun reappears in order to try to photograph any of the trees that are still in bloom. I was really surprised to find almost no bees swarming around the trees throughout the Willamette Valley. I only found one bee hive and usually I find myself immersed and surrounded by hundreds of hungry bees swarming along the trees. Maybe it’s because they bloomed well before spring or maybe it’s a sign that the bees are having a harder time that we thought. Most of the spring vegetation is still dormant or just barely starting to show their colors, so I expect that once it starts to dry out again and warm up the bees will be out in force. I would recommend that you get ready for some pretty spectacular spring flowers to make a rather awesome entry by early next week. Even though there are a lot of tulip’s and lily’s making an early arrival, I think that we should have a pretty spectacular display of flowers over the next several weeks.
[/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] The peony flower can be a very difficult flower to photograph from afar but a close up view offers an entirely different aspect. Since the peony is so big and has so many different peddles, you have to really work hard to get a good photo. Luckily, you can break out your macro/prime lens and photograph the anatomy of the flower. This is where the true magic takes place since there are so many different types of the flower and so many different colors. I was using my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens and was only about 1/4 of an inch from the flower. I wasn’t using a tripod or remote switch so I made sure to remove the CIR-PL and made sure that I kept a steady hand to ensure there wouldn’t be any camera shake or blur. I didn’t want any shade to obscure the photo but I also didn’t want any glare from the bright sunlight so I set the ISO at 100 and reduced the white balance to -0.7. I made sure to attach the warming filter in order to enhance the warming tones of the colors. The aperture was at f-8 and the shutter speed was at 1/400 second. It’s always best if you try to take advantage of the direction of the sunlight. I normally end up walking around the flower garden or wildflowers until I find the best lighting as well as the best flower to photograph. You also need to be aware of the time of day and the position of the sun. Sometimes it’s best to wait for the sun to go behind some clouds if there is too much glare. Since I don’t use a tripod or remote switch during any of my macro photography, it’s really important to ensure the the light is to your advantage and be sure to keep your camera steady and turn on the image stabilization.
Tulips have some of the most amazing colors and magnificent features. However, sometimes changing them to black and white offers you the chance to showcase their features without their colors stealing the show. This photo was taken of red and yellow tulips sitting side by side. I wanted to created a really interesting profile so I rested on my stomach and tilted my camera up towards the sky and tried not to get as much of the flowers in the frame without having any distortion. The sun was at a perfect angle, which was at about a 90 degree angle and the light was coming through the flowers as well as their stems. There were no clouds in the sky which allowed me to perfectly cast the tulips as though they were floating in mid air. I was using my Canon T1i and attached my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens. I was trying to get the most panoramic photo as possible as well as create a large field of view so I set the focal length at 14mm so there wouldn’t be any of the flowers out of focus. I set the ISO at 100 and kept the white balance at 0 due to the high glare and overexposure of the sky. I had the camera in Program/Normal mode so the aperture was set at F-6.4 and the shutter speed at 1/100 second. I attached my warming and CIR-PL filter and I wasn’t using a tripod since the camera was only a few inches from the ground.
[/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] The Willamette Valley offers some of the best nursery’s in the Country and Adelman Peony Farms is no exception. They have acres of Peony’s that you can simply walk through and get some of the most awesome pictures. There are several different species and colors throughout the farm so you will find yourself spending hours taking in the photographic opportunities that abound. You will surely want to include your macro and your wide angle lens in order to take advantage of this gem. I’m not sure when Peony’s stop blooming but I would advise visiting during Spring. This shot was taken on 5/30/10 at about 2:50pm. Because I wasn’t using my tripod, I removed my CIR-PL but attached my warming filter in order to bring out the contrast of the flowers. However, using my CIR-PL without a tripod would surely have created a blurry photo. This is especially true since I was standing so close to the flowers. I was using my Tokina 12-24mm wide angle lens and had the focal length at 15mm. I wanted to maintain a strong field of view so I stood back just enough so the clouds and the flowers were in focus. Using any other lens would have kept parts of the photo out of focus. I did experiment with my macro lens but found that the Peony’s looked nice as a panoramic photo with the crazy looking clouds lurking the background. I was facing towards the sun so the photo was a little overexposed, especially since I wasn’t using my CIR-PL. However, I made some changes in Photoshop in order to decrease the brightness of the clouds as well as darken them enough to bring out some of their personality. The camera mode was in Normal/Program so the aperture was at F-9 and the shutter speed at 1/160 second. I set the ISO at 100 and the white balance at +0.3.
[/caption] who is ready for some spring flowers? Over the past week I have been taking my 6 month old Australian Cattle Dog on some long hikes in Forest Park, which is within the city limits of Portland. The rain has been so relentless that my puppy is muddy from chest to paws. But as I hike along the muddy trails I can’t help but think about how many spring flowers must grow along these trails in Spring. This started me thinking about the many festivals that take place all around the Pacific Northwest. The photo shown here was taken at the Woodburn Tulip festival last April. I was using my Canon EOS Rebel T1i along with my Sigma 50mm macro/prime lens. The only filter I was using was the UV filter. Since I don’t use a tripod when using my macro lens, I don’t want to have any camera shake while using a CIR-PL. A PL lens eliminates the amount of light that enters the lens, so this will cause a very shaky photo unless you’re using a tripod. Since I try to include as much light as possible when using my macro lens, I am able to get within only a few cm from my subject and avoid any camera shake. It also eliminates the need for a tripod. This also makes it more enjoyable to crouch around the flowers as well as speeding up the process. Since a macro lens focuses on only parts of the subject and then blurs the rest of the subjects in the photo, I try to find the most interesting area to take the picture. I usually try to focus near the middle of the photo as well. In this instance I focused on the orange tulip, which caused parts of the photo to be in focus but the rest to be out of focus. I was trying to keep most of the tulips in focus while blurring the background. I was about 3 inches from the nearest tulip when I took this shot. I set the camera to its close-up mode and set the manual setting on the lens at Full. The F stop was at F 5.6 and the shutter speed was at 1/200 second. I set the ISO to 100 and the white balance at 0.3 due to the brightness of the sky and the fact that I wasn’t using the CIR-PL. One of my favorite parts of photography is taking photos of flowers. The Pacific Northwest has some of the most beautiful flowers in the world along with some of the most diverse species ever seen. However, visiting some of the many festivals gives you the opportunity to take photos of an endless supply of flowers.
[/caption] Summer is just around the corner and many of the spring flowers are almost finished for the year. I took this picture at the Adelman Peony Gardens just north of Keizer about two weeks ago. This garden was one of the largest Peony farms I’ve ever been to. To get this photo I had to lay down on my back and set my white balance to under expose the shot. I set the ISO to 100 and had the F stop at 8. I was using my 18-55mm lens and to get this shot I had my focal length at 24mm. I was also using my warming filter in order to bring out the colors of the flowers.
[/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.
[/caption] I wasn’t sure the name of this flower but I believe it’s called a tulip tree flower. Most of them weren’t open but there were a few that had. I took this at the Portland International Rose Garden on Friday. However, while driving near my house I noticed that there were 5 of the same trees just 800 feet from my front door. I will be photographing more of flower since it’s so interesting. I can’t believe that I never noticed this before. Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees. I took this with my 18-55mm kit lens. I removed my CIR-POL so I wouldn’t have camera shake since I didn’t use my tripod. However, I did use my warming filter to bring out the vivid colors. I had my lens at 55mm focal length and I was about 6 inches from the flower. I kept my camera in Auto Exposure with an F-stop of 5.6 and my ISO was at 100. I had taken several pictures while in Flower mode but this one was taken in Auto.