Author Topic: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers  (Read 6072 times)

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Online ideasguy

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This topic has arisen in another posting.
Eric (palustris) had posted this:
http://www.flowergenie.co.uk/ideas/forum/index.php/topic,1367.0.html

I commented that he had done a good job capturing those blue flowers.
He explained that he shields the subject from the sun, or uses flash after dark.

I mentioned that I found it difficult to take decent photos of the blue form of Anemone blanda.
Eric replied to say:
Quote
Insert Quote
Hepatica nobilis in its electric blue form is hard to get too!

Purple flowers can come out blue when uploaded! To my horror and dismay, I found some photos I'd taken of a pink Erigeron came out blue when uploaded :o

I also find it difficult to capture good photos of plants with white flowers. If not taken with care, they can be very blurred and lacking definition.

We have some very adept photographers on the forum (Eric being one of course)
Lets pull together a few tips in this topic.
Over to you folk ;)


« Last Edit: March 19, 2010, 09:55:23 AM by ideasguy »

Offline Palustris

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2010, 04:52:33 PM »
Now funnily enough I find yellow flowers are the most difficult to take when the sun is shining. Shading them from the sun is one way, even the photographers' own shadow is enough.
When this has happened before I have played around with the Exposure, reducing it slightly until the 'glare' from the flower has diminshed enough for the picture to be sharp.

« Last Edit: March 19, 2010, 04:57:19 PM by Palustris »

Offline Palustris

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2010, 05:53:41 PM »
This is Anemone blanda and the colour seems about right

However on the same settings this is Chionodoxa lucillae and the blue is much too light.



Offline Palustris

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2010, 05:04:39 PM »
The other method is to use 'Spot metering' on  a Digital cmaera and use that to get the exposure correct. Will try that when I work out how to do it with this camera.  ::)

Offline Palustris

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2010, 12:47:13 PM »
These are the same shots taken with different Exposure values. (EV)



Online ideasguy

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2010, 02:14:04 PM »
Are they photos of Chionodoxa lucillae?

I suspect (if its anything like my tests) that the one top left is the nearest to true colour????
I have to settle for a "dark" photo and doctor it a little in a photo editor.

Bottom right is nice and bright, but the light has bounced back from the flowers (?) and they dont clear and focused.
My 2d worth!


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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2012, 04:26:35 PM »
I came across this posting today when I saw a Forum 'Guest' viewing it, so I clicked the link to check it out.

I was somewhat dismayed to find that it hadn't generated much interest, so I feel that we need to revive the topic.

I've found an interesting article on the Internet which discusses this area of photography, and I think it's well worth a read.

The web site is Ron Bigelow Photography - "How to Photograph Flowers", which is in 3 parts.

Quite fascinating, and I think may be very useful to help some of our members who aren't happy with the colours they are capturing.

As we're now into a new year, and as the weather gets better and our flowers start to bloom nicely, we could start photographing again and share them on the Forum.  It will be a good learning experience, comparing results of similar flowers taken by various members, and giving details of the weather conditions the photos were taken under, camera equipment used, etc., and see where the differences lie.

This could also be a dual-purpose exercise, for the photos posted could end up in George's gardening database, for us all to benefit from  ;)


Online ideasguy

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2012, 08:51:18 PM »
Thanks for reviving this topic Laurie and thanks for posting that useful link.
They say the camera doesnt lie, but it can sure have a real good go at it when it comes to reproducing the colours of flowers. Its all down to the skills of the user of course, continually learning how to use the wonderful equipment available nowadays. Reviving this thread will help if we continue with more examples and tips.

Yes, with that Master Database now bulging with over 36,000 plants, I sure could do with more photos ;)
http://www.ideasgenie.co.uk/masterdatabase.html

Offline bossgard

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2012, 04:29:10 PM »
I believe this posting will fit into this topic?

In the January/February 2012 issue of the ‘Horticulture’ magazine is a full page announcement of its 2012 garden photo contest. There are five categories for entering photos, and the current winners are pictured here and on other pages in the magazine.

The magazine has this to say about:

“JUDGING
Renowned photographer Rob Cardillo, will select the winners. Rob has been photographing gardens, plants, and the people that tend them for nearly 20 years. Rob is a frequent contributor to ‘Horticulture’, his work can also be found in magazines, websites, catalogs, and in his latest book with Adrian Higgins, ‘Chanticleer: A Pleasure Garden (University of Pennsylvania Press). Visit his award-winning website at robcardillo,com.”

As an interesting aside, the winning photo in the ‘Wildlife, Animals & Insects in the Garden’ category shows a small frog (toad) that has perched itself on a rose colored bud that is ready to burst forth. On this particular picture the frog is on the left side of the bud. Further into the magazine where the photos are again reproduced, the frog is on the right side of the bud. Interesting?

If you go here: http://www.hortmag.com/gardens-and-gardeners/2011-garden-photo-contest-winners
you will see the winning photos, including the photo with the frog.

Mr. Cardillo’s website is here: http://www.robcardillo.com/
Perhaps, the website might help in gathering ‘how to’s’ in garden photography for our Forum Members. In his ‘portfolios’ he has slide shows available on the right hand side of the screen, don’t miss them. His ‘Chanticleer’ book is shown in the ‘In Print’ portfolio.

- Toby in the US

NightHawk

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2012, 04:58:09 PM »
Great links there Toby, and thanks for posting them here for us.

They will indeed prove useful, and we invite other members to share any similar web sites to give as diverse a selection of photo tutorials, hints and tips, etc., as possible.

That bit you mentioned about the frog changing sides on the flower Toby, magazine editors do this little trick a lot.  Usually its to fit in with the layout of the page the photo appears on, so it looks better as the text wraps around it.

This happened to me many, many years ago.  As a freelance photographer I'd photographed my 3 months old nephew and sent the photo to a magazine called Nursery World.  He was laid on his stomach propped up on his right elbow with his left arm extended forward.  He was wearing just a nappy and a beach hat set at a jaunty angle on his head.  I'd got down to floor level too so we were looking eye-to-eye.  It was a black-and-white photo and I submitted the negative to them and got a princely sum of £10 for it.

It appeared on the front cover of their magazine, but they had reversed the negative to fit in with the mag. name and some of its contents.  So he was now leaning on his left elbow and his right arm extended.  It was only obvious to me though, the pose itself had nothing in it to scream it was in reverse.  If there'd been any writing on his hat then they couldn't have done that, but they obviously had the final layout in mind anyway before accepting my particular shot.

It's amazing what you can do with photographs  ;)
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 05:37:57 PM by Kathy & Laurie »

Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2012, 09:52:26 PM »
I am afraid I have not been able to keep up with the forum lately but I just spotted this topic. I treated myself to Adobe Lightroom about three months ago, Amazon had it on offer at half price for about a week. At full price I would certainly have thought twice about it. I am sure some keen photographers of the old school would think it cheating but I believe in making use of what technology is available. The software is mainly intended for those who shoot in RAW, which I do. The great advantage is you can set your camera settings AFTER you have taken the shot. It recognises your camera and lenses and you can correct any abberations. The great thing is that if your white balance is slightly adrift you can choose the setting most suited. Great for correcting the colour on flowers. You can adjust the exposure, darken highlights and lighten shadows. You can look at before and after photos, side by side. I believe in slightly underexposing my shots. Detail can be brought out later and it avoids burnt out areas in the picture. The RAW format can be converted to JPEGs very quickly. Like most of the earlier contributors I find light shade is the best to avoid excessive contrast.

Yes, and thanks for those links too, Toby.

NightHawk

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2012, 07:07:38 AM »
I too have Adobe Lightroom Eric, and as you say it is an excellent product - good choice  ;)

You can also set it as the default application to download your photos from your camera when you connect it to your PC.  It is a photo organiser so you can 'tag' your photos with specific keywords, so you can display sets of photos with just certain content.  Great when you have thousands of photos stored on your PC and you want to view, or find, a specific one.

It does much more too, which I'm sure you will have fun finding out for yourself.

You'd be surprised at just how many professional photographers rely on software such as Photoshop to enhance their photos in post-production.  It is extremely difficult at times to get the 'perfect' shot from just your camera, no matter how experienced you are.  Especially if you're on a deadline and have to take many shots quickly, you can get exposure errors, objects creeping into the scene that are just plain ugly.  Colour correction may be needed, one of the main reasons for this topic being set up, which is something you couldn't avoid in the original shoot.

I see Photoshop as a backup camera under these circumstances, there to assist you getting the best results possible.  I personally don't see anything wrong in that and don't regard it as cheating.  As long as you're not vastly altering the whole composition with the intention to deceive the viewer.  For example cloning in elements or adding objects to a scene that were not actually there, and claiming you actually photographed them.  Of course, being honest and qualifying that with a disclaimer when you post your photos online or whatever else you do with them, then gives credence to your efforts.  It's all a matter of degrees in how far you go to enhance your photos.

But you are always going to get the other opinion that any form of software intervention is cheating.  That's fine too.  The main criteria here is that you, as the photographer, have a clear conscience with the final results.  I have never deliberately 'altered' any of my photos to sensationalise them by adding objects that were never there.  I do, however, use Photoshop to correct any colour aberrations, remove telephone wires, or other objects that mar the finished scene.  I don't feel it necessary to state what I actually did for all my photos I put online, unless someone asks how I achieved the final result, or I'm doing a tutorial, but by not doing so is not to be cheating your viewers.
It's a commonly accepted practice by amateurs and professionals alike, so we just get on with it and try to show the best possible results for our 'audiences'.

It would be interesting to hear other members opinions on this.  It's related to the original topic here, as we're trying to discover the best way to faithfully reproduce the colours of the flowers in our photos.   If our cameras can't always get it right, no matter how many settings we alter, or we can't get the correct lighting conditions at the particular time, do we resort to software to finish the job.

Discussion is welcome people, so let us know your views.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 11:40:23 AM by Kathy & Laurie »

Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2012, 03:56:52 PM »
Thank you Laurie. I bought myself Scott Kelby’s book on Lightroom 3 which was an excellent way of getting into it but it didn’t take long before I stopped referring to it.

I know about the excellent downloading and filing system but I haven’t used it as yet. I have my own system of filing which I have developed over the years and which I am used to. I have very many thousands of shots but most are of buildings. I can get to an individual shot very quickly. Where I am less organised is with my plant shots and when I have time I would like to get these better organised and use the tag system that you mention.

I know that it is slightly off the plant topic but to show one useful feature. Here is a photo of the vault of Gloucester Cathedral. It was taken with my 12 – 24mm super wide-angle lens at 12mm. At this extreme a little barrel distortion is inevitable. Lightroom recognises the camera and lens profile and if you enable the profile corrections the barrel distortion is corrected.



With church interiors, such as this one at Blythburgh, in Suffolk, it is sometimes necessary to have the camera tilted upwards sometimes, to include the features of the building you desire. This means that verticals converge slightly and Lightroom will correct the perspective. Of course in the old days an architectural photographer would do this with an expensive rising front to his camera.



The other thing to do of course is to accept that the verticals converge but make the point by exaggerating it



Sorry, I have strayed a little from the topic, :-[  I just wanted to demonstrate why I like using Lightroom so much.

Eric

« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 05:29:33 PM by Eric Hardy »

NightHawk

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2012, 05:34:58 PM »
Great info there Eric.

Some of the points you've raised could also be further developed in their own section, where they would be done more justice, by generating discussion.

For example, the excellent interior photos you've posted here Eric.  It would be interesting for you to explain how you achieved the correct exposures - did you use flash, natural lighting or timed exposures.

You could then explain the software you use to achieve certain results; i.e. Lightroom 3 to correct the barrel distortion and converging verticals.  You may have to split the two subjects into their own topics, e.g. "Photography" for your architectural shots and "Computers" for the software you use.

It's up to you of course Eric, just a suggestion to generate more interest on the Forum  ;)

Offline Palustris

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2012, 07:51:10 PM »
Not being in the same league as these people can I add my tuppence worth?
 Now I take mostly pictures of plants and sometimes no matter what I do the camera refuses to focus on the individual flower. (I have to use auto as my eyesight is so poor these days that without it every shot I take is blurred!) Cure is simple, I put my hand behind the flower and focus on that, then move it away before taking the shot.

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2012, 11:10:27 PM »
Autofocus can be very fickle Eric, especially on a subject that is very contrasty, or where there are lots of elements in the scene (giving a large range of focal objects or depth of field), as in bunches of flowers, large displays or just a very large-bloomed flower.  The camera can get a bit confused as to what to focus on - usually being the nearest object to the camera lens.

As you rely on autofocus, you have found a good work-around that works for you.  And that is a very important part of photography.  It doesn't really matter what methods you use, as long as you 'get the shot'  ;)

Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #16 on: January 13, 2012, 08:29:24 AM »
sometimes no matter what I do the camera refuses to focus on the individual flower.

Have you tried setting the camera to spot focus Eric? That means it will focus on the centre point, or wherever you choose for the position of the spot focus. You can aim at precisely the fkower you want in focus, half depress and recompose if necessary.

Eric

Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2012, 09:54:00 AM »
Some of the points you've raised could also be further developed in their own section, where they would be done more justice, by generating discussion.

A good idea, Laurie, unfortunately I have not got much time at the moment  :( but I will keep it in mind.

Eric

NightHawk

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2012, 10:20:20 AM »
Not a problem Eric - no pressure  :D

Offline Eric Hardy

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2012, 12:28:31 PM »
Taking photos of white flowers:

I seemed to have accumulated three Canon camera bodies and Anthea persuaded me to sell one of them. I put the proceeds towards a nice new lens which arrived on Thursday. I decided to do a test shot on a hollyhock and thought a white one would be a good test. This is a JPEG, straight from the camera with no PP



I then cropped it in Adobe Lightroom but added no further PP



I took them in RAW too but I wanted to see how they looked straight from the camera. I think the whites have come out well, so I am pleased.

Camera Canon EOS 60D
Exposure 1/1250 sec
Aperture f/4.0
Focal Length 89 mm
ISO Speed 100
Lens Type Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS

Eric

NightHawk

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2012, 02:06:28 PM »
Stunning photos Eric.  You've got a cracking lens there.

Of course, I wouldn't expect anything less than perfection from you  ;)

Thanks for posting them for us (and great to see you back on the Forum again  :) )

Laurie.

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2012, 03:38:33 PM »
They are simply perfect, Eric. I suspect that many professionals would gasp in envy :)

For that same subject, what settings would you recommend for my standard Canon EOS 450?
Should I use my zoom lens for better results?
I don't expect anything like you have achieved, but I'd love to to get the best from my gear.

NightHawk

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Re: How to take photos of plants with "hard to capture" coloured flowers
« Reply #22 on: April 17, 2013, 09:22:12 AM »
Topic revival again  ;)

Hopefully, Eric H (the 'Canon man') will see this and answer your question George.

My equipment is all Nikon, so Eric is more suited to suggest the settings you need.