Light is the most important element in photography. The subject has to be lit well to give it the three dimensional feel and most importantly to enhance the mood if that’s what you as a photographer wish to achieve. I love dramatic lighting and that’s how I light my subjects.
Basic lighting for a portrait is to position the main light to the right side of the camera pointing downwards from the model’s face. At this stage look at how the light falls on your subject – look out for shadows under the nose and under the lips.
You can add a fill-in light on the other side of the face at a lower power to fill-in the shadows.
However I have just used one light on the below photograph, the main light is positioned approximately 40 degree from the camera.
Lighting diagram for the above image:
Below is the lighting diagram for the next image that I took. The camera and the model both remain at the same position. I have only changed the angle of light in order to achieve the desired look.
Lighting diagram 2
The model is looking towards the light, with her head slightly down, so the hair also catches the light. The main light is positioned at approximately 45 to 55 degree from the camera. The light stand has been moved slightly higher in order for the hair to catch the highlights.
The final image and the setting that I used: - F-stop f6.3, Exposure time 1/60, ISO 320.
Take sharper photos by:
* holding the camera steady;
* using a tripod where necessary, i.e. long exposure and low light conditions
* controlling your exposure settings by using Aperture, shutter and ISO settings
It is possible to take good flower photographs with a compact camera also and not just with a SLR.
Compact cameras often do not have interchangeable lenses like SLRs, but the macro and zoom facilities on most compact cameras will allow photographing subjects in close-up as well as distant.
The first step is to know your camera; it is your greatest tool in creating your master piece. It is also advisable to read the camera manual to familiarise yourself with its basic and advanced functions.
I have often been told by novice/beginner photographers that the manuals tend to be complicated with terminology that tends to be alien to them. My advice to them is to start with the basic controls such as ‘Program Mode’, then move to the advanced features as ‘Aperture/Shutter Priority’, bracketing and others that may be unique to their camera.
Every compact camera should enable you to have some control over the aperture, shutter speed, the ISO, exposure compensation (+/-) and finally focusing. Some compact cameras will allow the user to take full control over the focusing using the ‘manual’ mode.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when photographing flowers.
The main control on a compact camera for close-up photography is the “Macro” button (often with the symbol of a flower). This enables you to focus closer to the subject and also blurs the background, keeping the flower sharp. The camera automatically sets the aperture and the shutter for you, so you don’t have to worry about the exposure, allowing you to just focus and press the shutter release.
Now I will briefly touch on the Aperture Priority (AV) mode. When in this mode, the camera will set the shutter speed to give you the right exposure. This mode is very useful as it allows the user to determine what part of the subject and background to keep in focus and what to blur by choosing the desired aperture. In close-up photography, it if often advisable to blur the background, as it draws the eye on the main subject when viewing the final photograph, therefore having an out of focus background is not considered bad.
When the camera is set to Aperture Priority, if the lowest ‘f’ number is selected, then the area nearest to the focus point will be in focus and the remaining picture will be out of focus. When the highest ‘f’ number is selected, the focus point and the area before and after the point is all in focus. If ‘f’ numbers between the lowest and highest is selected, then through practice and experience you can determine what to keep in focus and what to blur.
Red & Yellow tulips
As well as the aperture mode, the Shutter mode (TV) is also important. This mode can be used when you are unsure of what aperture to choose and its great for capturing movement in the flowers caused by any wind.
Selecting a slow shutter speed of 1/30 or 1/15 will capture the movement in the leaves on the trees and flowers creating a ‘ghostly’ effect, whilst shutter speed of 1/60 or above will freeze the movement without blur.
I hope this very brief insight into flower photography assists you in your photography.