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You can use almost any lens to take plant photographs; a wide angle lens will capture a whole field of flowers, while a telephoto lens will help you isolate your subject from a distracting background. If you shoot other subjects with a macro lens, you already know that depth of field (the amount of the image in focus) will reduce dramatically if you don't use a smaller aperture. If you are using a Point and Shoot camera, choose the Macro Scene mode to tell your camera to set the Macro lens and use a wide aperture. On that same note, a shutter release is almost as important as a tripod, especially when shooting any kind of macro photography.
Well, you can't really think like a plant, but you can learn to look at plants differently than you would look at moving subjects.
Now that you've chosen your subject and angle, think about how you want your image to look. You have heard me say many times that the best light occurs early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Flowers in particular tend to look best in soft light, so unless you're taking photos in a greenhouse with diffused lighting, you'll need to avoid direct sunlight. They don't hide in the far corner of the enclosure, they don't eat cake and they don't stick their tongues out when they see a camera.
But the lens that most plant photographers recommend is a good macro lens, which will allow you to focus very close to your subject. You will need one that can get fairly low to the ground, since that's where most plants grow. When you're up close, movement is actually exaggerated, which makes it even more difficult to get a shot without the aid of equipment that will allow you to snap that photo without ever touching your camera.
Plants benefit from "magic hour" lighting as much as any other subject, especially warmer-toned flowers. Reflectors can help soften the light, so stash a small, compactable one in your camera bag.
To capture these shots, go out in the early morning just after sunrise, before the wind picks up.


For example, try shooting a long-stemmed flower from the ground looking up, or point your camera straight down at a field of wildflowers.
You'll find yourself taking better shots by using just two or three tips!Prepare to learn photography the fun way!Simple and effective tips and techniques. You can use a shorter macro with good effect, but a longer macro (100mm to 200mm) doesn't require you to get face-to-petal with your subject. To keep the entire plant in focus you will need to stick with that larger F number aperture.
Look for a tripod that has legs that can be unlocked and spread out, or one that has a reversible center column (which allows the camera to be positioned under the tripod instead of on top of it).
Look for and avoid imperfections such as holes made by marauding insects, flaws in the petals and dead leaves or other debris that may clutter the image. Orange poppies, red roses and yellow sunflowers will all photograph beautifully just after dawn or just before dusk. Even magic hour plant photography can benefit from a little fill light to help highlight areas that may be in the shadow of a fellow flower. This time of day has the double benefit of keeping your usually immobile and cooperative subjects from suddenly becoming uncooperative dancing fools. When you find the perfect pant or flower, try taking the same shot using a range of apertures, and see which one you like best. But photographing them isn't as easy as just pointing your camera in that general direction. And since you'll probably be using a lower ISO to prevent unwanted noise from compromising the detail in your images, a longer exposure is almost a given. You can also use a tabletop tripod, though such smaller tripods will be more difficult to position on uneven ground.
When you've chosen your subject, spend some time moving around it and looking at it from all angles until you find the one that best suits it. For example, try opening up your aperture (lower F-numbers) so that only the center of the flower is in focus.


Pay close attention to the background--you don't want to accidentally capture a hand-scrawled plant tag or a scrap of litter that blew into the garden. If there's no way to get rid of that distracting background, you can also use a wider aperture to soften the background and make it less noticeable. If you do find yourself out on a breezy day, try placing a large piece of cardboard or some other object between the wind and your subject. And if you want to shoot that bee as it buzzes around your flower, or the ladybug that's crawling from the base of the leaf to the tip, go for it. Now look at how the shadows fall on the plant, and angle yourself so that they either add to the composition or are removed from the image.
No matter what aperture you choose, the sharpest part of your image should, of course, also be the focal point. You may also be able to tie a piece of yarn around the plant's stem to stop it moving so much. A bug may not be as immobile or cooperative as the plant it's crawling on, but it's probably not going to stick its tongue out at you, either. Remember that when shooting in macro, the objects and surfaces that are in focus will change with as little as one millimeter of movement, so make sure to keep your camera stable and take care that your focal point remains sharp. Don't worry, every photographer eventually wearies of shooting subjects who turn their butts towards you at the last second (zoos) or who have cake all over their faces (birthday parties). It's time to relax and schedule a photo shoot with that most immobile and cooperative of subjects: Plants.



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