Yesterday evening my wife and I made our way to Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio (a Columbus suburb).
Single flower shots are a dime a dozen. Everybody has “macro” shots of blossoms in their library or portfolio. The vast majority of floral shots are mundane. If you want your flower shots to be interesting you need to stand out from the crowd.
It has been my experience that single shots are far less interesting than groups of flowers. If you do shoot a single flower it had better be distinctly different if you want to get it published or submit it to a major contest.
Macro shooters think that getting up close and personal with a rose, for example, will woo all viewers and you’ll sell tons of prints. “Surely a botanical tome would want such an image.” Guess again. I’ve seen some truly exceptional macro flower shots, but, like I said before, the majority of macro shots get lost in the crowd.
Dare to Be Different…
Here are a few examples from yesterday evening’s photo excursion.
Notice that the group is all in focus and its placement is well-centered.
I was looking at a bunch of these big leaves when I saw the way sunlight was filtering through this particular leaf. I used a slightly smaller aperture to keep the whole leaf in focus and the foliage immediately surrounding it. I used a 70-210 f/4.0 lens and relied on compression to soften the more distant foliage in the background.
This image (above) is a good example of how more than one flower can add interest and a bud, or in this case the fruit, adds to the composition. Notice, too, my subject is not dead center.
These next two shots are an example of how you can use depth of field and field of view to enhance your images. The first shot was taken a 1/125 of a second at F/4.0 aperture. The second shot, from the exact same vantage point, was F/22 at 1/3 of a second.
Many macro shooters simply set the aperture at F/2.8 and fire away, but, the flower image will often look much better with the entire subject in sharp focus. The blossom in the second picture (below) is not only in sharp focus, so are surrounding plant stems and the fence. Look at that beautiful texture! Notice, too, that the background beyond the fence is not blurred, but it does not take away from the image thanks to the fence.
Looking at these last two images should give you some great ideas on how you can explore depth of field and field of view.
Keep in mind that WHERE YOU STAND is often the difference between a great shot and a poor one. Don’t be afraid to turn away from the herd and use your creativity to separate yourself from the crowd.