Thursday, September 10, 2015

Flowers in Oregon - photographing nature's beauty

As many of you know, a couple of weeks ago I was up in Portland, Oregon. I was there to drop off my daughter for her first year of college. While there, my wife and I had some time to drive around and be tourists for a couple of hours. One of our stops was at the International Rose Test Garden. And you know that I couldn't resist shooting photos there!

Armed with my Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 24-105mm lens, I was off to capture some of nature's finest work.

So...this weeks blog is all about flowers in Portland. I hope you enjoy the photos.

The interesting thing about photographing flowers is that you can get such different photos with a small change in your shooting position. When I find a pretty flower, I often will try shooting it from the side, at angles and sometimes even from directly above. That is what I did here. This photo was taken at f/4 from straight over the rose. I focused on the center pedals and let everything else go out of focus. I chose this particular rose since it was away from other flowers and perfectly framed by the green leaves below.

For this photo, I moved my position so that I would have the one rose in the foreground and others in the background. I shot this at f/5.6 to get a little more of the foreground in focus but have good separation from the background flowers.

When looking for good "subjects", I would often look for a variety of full blooms and new blooms in the same shot.

You will also notice that none of the photos were taken in bright sunlight. As it turned out, we arrived at the Rose Garden at 6:30pm, so the sun was low and we were mostly in shade. Perfect for photographing these beauties.

And just because we were in a rose garden does not mean that there are not other plants to photograph. I really liked the straight lines in these plants and chose to focus on just one "tail" as my subject.

I saw this flower with an almost perfect form and had to stop and photograph this. Once again, I moved my shooting position to have the flower off center and only green leaves in the background. Much like the first shot of this blog, I took this at f/4 to create more separation between the foreground and background. I also moved farther from the flower and zoomed all the way to 105mm to blur the background more.

I like the colors of this flower and the fact that I have one bloom full and one just starting. This would have been an even better shot if all the pedals were straight out. Yeah - I know - I could have fixed this in Photoshop, but that would be cheating.

This photo is a classic example of using complimentary colors to my advantage.

For those of you wanting to photograph flowers, take a close look at this photo. You will notice that I took this shot with my "subject" in focus and off center. I used the second rose, diffused on the left, to balance the photo. This is a good example of balancing composition.

This last photo is one of my favorites. I saw this tiny little rose bud while walking slowly through the gardens. Oh, and I should mention that walking slowly is important, since it helps you really see the details that others might miss. I saw a bunch of people barreling through the gardens taking quick photos with their phones. But I doubt that any of them saw this shot. The bloom is not more than one inch in length and it was in perfect light. I knew that this would make for a nice photo, and I took at least 12 different photos of this to get one that was just right. I tried different aperture settings, but ultimately ended up on this one taken at f/4. I also took this at -.03 stop to darken the image a bit. 

I hope you like the photos and I hope that you go out and take some cool flower shots of your own!


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Unknown said...

What is the best way to light flower pics? here in Canberra Australia we have a large spring flower festival starting today, however it is only open during normal business hours. Each year i go to take photos but they end up way too bright from the sunlight. What is the best way to deal with this sort of situation?

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Tod - I would bring a diffuser or something to hold over the flowers to shade them. That will help a ton!

Amanda said...

Hi Jeff !

Love this post as flowers have become my real focus this year -and my technique has improved greatly with lots of practise...I am doing an exhibition with my photo club this Autumn -and have a collection of my flower images to display.
I have the same camera equipment as you -but I am surprised at your superb results with the 24-105 lens. I love the lens for so many reasons -but have been using my 2.8 macro lens for all my flower shots, as I thought the fact that I could get better close ups and potential to use wider aperture in breezier conditions would be plus points. Also, I was thinking that the lens quality would be a notch above?
As it happens I tend to get too narrow a depth of field once I go to 2.8 -as I want to get a better spread of focus on the petals, rather than going for the very dreamy look lots of magazines seem to have adopted. I think this is because I really want to see the delicacy of the petals, rather than create an 'arty' impression. I think your examples shows lots of good detail -but also you have achieved wonderful non-distracting backgrounds. Some of my best separation shots have between 4 or 5.6, with nicely blurred backgrounds -but not as good as yours (yet!) I haven't really tried moving further away from the bloom as you describe in one of your shots. I thought I would lose too much close up detail when I cropped during processing ?
I love your tips on composition, as it is really easy to end up with distracting stems or overlapping blooms in the excitement of finding a wonderful flower to shoot !
Do you ever use your macro lens for flowers?
I am wondering if you just happened to have your 24-105 on the camera most of the time because it is so versatile -or whether you would always choose to use it for taking these type of shots ?

Thanks again for a great post and I look forward to your comments ...
Kind Regards

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Amanda - I agree that shooting flowers (or any macro shots) with 2.8 can be very difficult due to the narrow depth of field. As for the 24-105mm lens, I use that as my walk around lens, due to the zoom range and relatively small size. If I were at home, with all of my lens choices, I probably would have used a macro lens or the 24-70mm which is even sharper than the 24-105mm. :)


Amanda said...

Thanks Jeff !

It certainly is a versatile lens ... luckily I have the 24-70 too, so I will remember to give that a try rather than just sticking to the macro.

I am just off with the 24-105 mm to have a go at taking an awesome display of guitars in a local shop. I will have my others with me - but think this one will be the easiest to capture what I want. Fingers crossed !

Thanks for continuing to inspire my photography !!


Henderson said...

Garden is a vital a part of the house. you'll be able to pay your time off gaily over there along with your friends or family. If this place smart|is sweet|is nice then some time will be good. horticulture could be a sensible choice to create your garden stunning.

Jennifer Beck said...

Hi, Jeff!

Thanks for sharing this post with us! I really enjoy your post.

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Please, continue your writing in the future, and And continue to give us pleasure.


Parker Edward said...

Incredible post.