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.
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.