It is afternoon at the Silverstone office/studio, the sun is shining through the stained glass window and bouncing off the silver surface of the MacBook Pro.
The cat is curled up in the kitchen window pretending to be asleep. Looking out the window, a thought came into my head: “in the spring a young man’s/person’s fancy turns to, hmmmmm, flowers, yes that’s it flowers.” Et alors (and so), here are a few tips for shooting flowers outdoors.
Very harsh sunlight such as high noon will just wash out all the colours and texture of the flowers. Try shooting in the early morning when the dew is dripping and the sun is softer.
Try shooting late in the day with a low afternoon sun behind the flower so that it is backlit. Use a fill flash for the shadow areas, the flash should be ½ to ¾ of a stop less light.
Carry a spray bottle with you that contains water with a few drops of glycerin in it. Use it to gently mist the flowers before shooting; the glycerin will prevent the water from drying too quickly.
Bring a tripod with you, and use it.
You will find that focusing is critical, especially on those windy Port Alberni days. You might want to construct a temporary windbreak. If you use a piece of rigid white cardboard as a windbreak, then it could also double as a reflector.
Focus on the main subject and make sure that the background is not confusing.
See that the background colours tie in with the subject.
It is often best to blur the background; fill the frame with the subject and use a large aperture, then the subject will just leap off the page.
Wee quiz answers
Last month I gave you a surprise photographic test. Some had the right answers, some had the wrong answers, and some decided to answer “c” for every question. Here are the answers to the test.
A monopod is: “b”, a single legged stand for a camera.
The batteries in the camera are used : “c”, to power the exposure meter, autofocus, and computer chip.
A light meter is: “b”, a meter that reads the light reflected from the subject.
Shutter speed is: “a”, how fast a shutter opens and closes.
Autofocus is: “c”, a camera lens that will focus itself when you press the shutter button halfway down.
A viewfinder is: “c”, the window that you look into to compose the image on a camera.
Manual on a camera means: “c”, having full human control over the camera settings.
Transparencies are: “b”, a positive film that can be projected onto a screen.
A flash is: “a”, a light unit that can be attached to the camera or is built-in.
ISO is: How sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present.
White Balance: “c”, the adjustment to keep neutral colours neutral.
Depth of field is: “c”, what is in focus in front of and behind the subject.
Any questions? E-mail me at email@example.com.
Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege in Port