Digital photography of certain flowers

Rodger Whitlock
Fri, 26 Aug 2005 12:44:44 PDT
On 25 Aug 05 at 14:23, Jim McKenney wrote:

> A flower I have found to be very difficult to photograph is
> Fuchsia Gartenmeister Bonstedt. Whether in the sun or in the
> shade, the image always comes out with a patch of glare on the
> flower. I've taken dozens of photos of this one and have yet
> to get a perfect one. 

> Does anyone have any suggestions? 

You have to experiment. [Once again I demonstrate my superior
grasp of the obvious.]

I'm a great believer in taking photographs using natural light, 
but this principle works better taking portraits in diffuse 
illumination from a window that when snapping flowers in the 
great out-of-doors.

Some strategies for taking decent flower pictures out of doors:

1. Choose an overcast day rather than a sunny one.

2. Use fill-flash. I don't know if your common or garden 
variety mass market digital camera can do this.

3. Shade the subject from direct sunlight.

4. Use a reflector to get extra light onto the subject. A
sheet of cardboard covered with badly wrinkled aluminum foil
works well, so does a piece of plain white pasteboard or a
piece of plywood painted white. Don't use a mirror; you want 
diffuse light.

5. Put a diffuser over the subject -- a piece of thin muslin 
or old curtain will do.

6. If using flash, put a very thin cotton handkerchief over the 
flash unit. If the flash unit can be aimed, bounce it off a 
wall, ceiling, or reflector.

7. if you find your photographs are too blue or even gray
because the color temperature is too high on an overcast day,
try using a pale yellow filter. There are photographic filters
made specifically for adjusting color temperature. You can 
probably do this digitally during post-processing.

8. Learn to use your image processing software to the max. One 
trick is to create a negative grayscale copy of your image, 
mask the image with it, then fiddle with the brightness. You 
will selectively affect the darker areas. It helps if you blur 
the mask first.

One other point, a page out of Diane Whitehead's notebook:
before you push the button take the time to meticulously tidy
up the background. Look through that viewfinder and pay
attention to all the elements that distract from the main
subject. Even though you're not wasting film, it's better to 
take one good picture than a bunch of poor ones.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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