Question on Photography of our flowering bulbs

Crawford Neil
Fri, 09 Jan 2009 01:43:49 PST
We're more botanists than gardeners, and perhaps come at plant photgraphy 
from a different viewpoint.  Our problem is that we're always short of time, if my wife
takes too much time on one plant she'll be miles behind the rest of the group, 
which means she'll miss the discussion about the next plant. We rarely have the 
luxury of enough time to set up a tripod and fiddle around, even adjusting the camera
often gets forgotten in the mad rush to photograph all the plants.
If we're on our own, we'll have nearly always planned too tight a schedule so as to
maximise the number of plants we can see!
We try for more depth of focus than normal, as we really need to see the whole 
plant for identification. Our set up is that Ragnhild uses a Canon 350D with 100 macro
set on Tv and 1/125 sek exposure time,  then she can quickly compensate for wind 
by changing to a faster time, or darkness by going down to 1/60 and holding tight.
We've noticed that 1/125 works surprisingly well in most cases, and is a good compromise
between speed and DoF. I wield a big birding tele-lens, which comes in handy for difficult
far-off shots, and is also very good for isolating a flower from the background (if it's big enough). 
We usually remove grass and rubbish, and try to take from an angle that gives 
a nice background. Lying down is involved a lot, as this permits the sky or
something diffuse to be behind, the 100macro has a nice bokeh (background blur)
but thats difficult to combine with decent depth of focus. We try and work together 
so that I take notes while she photographs, but I'm afraid that sometimes gets forgotten
if a bird turns up. You can never take enough photos, because it's always the thing 
you haven't taken a photograph of that's vital for identification.
Its so much easier to take photographs in South Africa than on a Swedish mountainside
on a dull windy day!
Best regards Neil     

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