Dahlia Photos: the sublime to the blurry forum: Tips on Taking Pictures of Dahlias

 
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Imageteddahlia
Mar 22, 2013 8:58 AM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
This subject has not been discussed and it can be quite frustrating getting a good picture of your favorite dahlia. One of my frustrations is that sometimes I take a really nice picture and have no idea why it came out perfect. Pictured is Mary's wonderful photo that really appealed to me. The focus is perfect and the colors bright and the composition wonderful. One gets a real idea what that flower looks like in the garden.
Thumb of 2013-03-22/teddahlia/06740b
“Flowers are like friends; They bring color to your world.” – Unknown
Imagehonnat
Mar 22, 2013 11:14 AM CST
St. Paul, MN
Good topic!

Ted, some of your tips on the "Red" thread were very helpful for me last year.

These are the most basic tips that I try to apply:
1) Do not take photos in direct sunlight - wait for a cloudy day or take photos at dawn/dusk.
2) If taking a photo of a single bloom, try to have your focus on the bloom's center
Imageteddahlia
Mar 22, 2013 11:35 AM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
"If taking a photo of a single bloom, try to have your focus on the bloom's center."
This is a good tip that I need to implement. My SLR camera(Pentax KX) has auto focus just like everybody's camera. When it is on auto it uses several points of focus and averages them. That is nice for most pictures but for pictures of flowers(and with people they say to focus on the eyes), one needs to have the very center of the flower in perfect focus. My camera has a setting for a one spot focus and I should be using it. That may be why my manually focused shots tend to be better as I tend to try to get the center in focus. If the camera settings allow for good depth of field(aperture setting at high number), the rest of the picture will be in pretty good focus too.
“Flowers are like friends; They bring color to your world.” – Unknown
Imageteddahlia
Mar 22, 2013 11:38 AM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
The problem of taking good pictures at mid day in full sun has no really good solution. However, if you must do so, my SLR allows an aperture setting of f20 in manual mode. I have taken some pictures of white flowers using that setting with some success.
“Flowers are like friends; They bring color to your world.” – Unknown
ImageIslander
Mar 22, 2013 4:21 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
I really like the shots where I shade with a white filter above the plants in bright light. It improved my photos quite a bit. I learned about this at a seminar at the National Dahlia show last year.

I notice that I tend to take photos in the garden in the evening after the sun is off the patch. They tend to come out all rather dark and dreary looking if I do this. They are better if I remember to use the "Low light" feature on my camera. It takes nice photos without flash.
Salish Dahlias
Imagehonnat
Mar 22, 2013 5:29 PM CST
St. Paul, MN
What type of white filter do you use? Homemade or something different?
ImageIslander
Mar 22, 2013 5:56 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
Pro-Master 5-in-1 disc. Its just what I found when I went looking for one. I have not used the other filters yet...suspect that a plain white filter would take you a long ways. Its on a flexable frame so it folds down small to tote and pops out when unfolded. NIce when visiting gardens...even nicer if you have someone to hold the filter over the flower for you. But I have taken some pretty nice photos with no assistance. It's light weight.
Salish Dahlias
Imageteddahlia
Mar 22, 2013 6:43 PM CST
Name: Ted
Oregon
We enjoy breeding new dahlias!
I have seen professionals use reflectors to reflect sun light to the side of the flower so that there will be some shadow between the petals. When there is no shadow dahlias look almost like a solid blur of color. I have not tried this technique. I also noticed that a professional used a "forced flash' setting on her camera when she took some pictures in full sunlight. The flash goes off and she said the pictures come out better.
“Flowers are like friends; They bring color to your world.” – Unknown
ImageIslander
Mar 22, 2013 7:32 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
Salish Dahlias
[Last edited Mar 22, 2013 10:26 PM CST]
Quote | Post #960335 (9)
Imageedewitt
Mar 22, 2013 10:05 PM CST
Name: Eric DeWitt
Boise, Idaho
I don't really have any good tips I just try to find a nice angle and frame the shot and hopefully you all enjoy the photos I take. I use ACDSee Pro to edit and try to keep the colors as true as I saw them with my own eyes.
Imageedewitt
Mar 22, 2013 10:06 PM CST
Name: Eric DeWitt
Boise, Idaho
I also use a Canon Rebel XS DSLR camera I bought last April which I like but eventually want to get some new lenses for.
Imagehonnat
Mar 23, 2013 7:26 AM CST
St. Paul, MN
edewitt, you had some nice macro shots last year with that camera. Makes me think about investing...
Imageedewitt
Mar 23, 2013 9:02 AM CST
Name: Eric DeWitt
Boise, Idaho
That was just with a $35 lens attachment I bought off of Amazon. I can't wait to get an actual macro lens one of these days.
ImageCCvacation
Mar 24, 2013 1:06 AM CST
Name: CC
PA
Some of the 70-200 lenses have a macro setting on them, which is really cool to play with.

I used to get great butterfly images that way with my old SLR camera, but it's film, which sits in a closet now. Hubby has the expensive model, but I don't touch much in order to preserve spousal harmony. I'm going to break my self-imposed rule this summer so I can play in the garden. His shots last season were general, not showing off the varieties like I wanted. I ended up taking most with my I Pad... it works, but not spectacular in any stretch of the definition.
CC
ImageMaryNZ
Mar 24, 2013 12:42 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

I struggle to hold my iPad still enough. It should work well, as you can touch the screen exactly where you want the point of focus to be, but a steady hand is required.

My main technique to to take hundreds of photos when time allows, so that theoretically I can destroy the evidence that there were bad ones. However, I find it hard to delete them! My main problem is that auto-focus on my camera so often picks up the stem rather than the bloom. I tend to take two photos at shows now - one of the whole flower including the top of the vase with the name tag, and one just of the flower. Often, at least one of them turns out OK.
My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
ImageMaryNZ
Mar 24, 2013 12:46 PM CST
Name: Mary St George
New Zealand

Noni, I am puzzled about your "filters" - even more so after finding a picture of them. Do they go above the flower and filter the sunlight, or behind the flower and reflect light?
My photos are licensed CC BY (Attribution). More Dahlia photos here.
I also spend time in FB Dahlia groups at http://www.facebook.com/groups/363854624030/ and http://www.facebook.com/groups/dahlias/
ImageIslander
Mar 24, 2013 7:39 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
They are held over the flower to block the direct sun, thus putting them in a bright shadow. But the natural colors show real well, and the flower has depth to it when viewed, unlike full sun pics. I am sure there are many more ways to use them, including the other filters but this is all I learned at the seminar. It's made a great improvement in my pics though! Wish I knew for sure which ones are taken with it, but probably most any pics I posted after the middle of Sept last year. Really gives nice depth on those red or purple dahlia pics Smiling
Salish Dahlias
ImageIslander
Mar 24, 2013 8:09 PM CST
Name: Noni Morrison
Warren, Oregon
retired flower farmer
They are held over the flower to block the direct sun, thus putting them in a bright shadow. But the natural colors show real well, and the flower has depth to it when viewed, unlike full sun pics. I am sure there are many more ways to use them, including the other filters but this is all I learned at the seminar. It's made a great improvement in my pics though! Wish I knew for sure which ones are taken with it, but probably most any pics I posted after the middle of Sept last year. Really gives nice depth on those red or purple dahlia pics Smiling Thumb of 2013-03-25/Islander/c4fe83

Thumb of 2013-03-25/Islander/3a77cd

I think these two pics were taken with the filter.
Thumb of 2013-03-25/Islander/83273d . In the 3rd photo I placed the filter behind the rose to show it off so you can see a bit of what it looks like.
Salish Dahlias
ImageCCvacation
Mar 24, 2013 10:14 PM CST
Name: CC
PA
Any stiff white board will do the same thing, though Noni's is much cooler looking... White or reflective is important to bounce ambient light into the subject without the glare of the sun. An on-camera flash is typically weak, but does add a different dimension to the subject when used along with a flag to block the harsh light of the sun. Better yet is a scrim.

A scrim allows some degree of light through, directional lighting the subject without harsh shadows, giving more depth then an on-camera flash will allow.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrim_(lighting)

A scrim acts like an impromtu studio soft box, which is the bread and butter of many traditional pro photographers. It wraps the light around the subject because the light is diffused and is bouncing around instead of beaming down.

Edited to say,
Noni, can you see light through your blocker? It looks like thin enough material to be a scrim! You mentioned other 'filters' you got... My bet is that one is a black Gogo, to take out reflections, one is a solid white/silver blocking flag, one is a lightweight scrim. Please tell!
CC
[Last edited Mar 24, 2013 10:32 PM CST]
Quote | Post #960888 (19)
ImageCCvacation
Mar 26, 2013 12:17 PM CST
Name: CC
PA
My hubby laughed when I told him about this thread. He said the best scrim is a cloud over the sun! *Blush* Well, there you go.

On a side note, kind of related...
Here's the front/ back and inside of our personal Easter cards I need to mail out today, done in our studio. And, no, the animals were borrowed and are blissfully back on the farms where they came from, thank goodness! I'll be glad when everyone picks up their orders and Easter dinner is done with... then I can take a second round of cuttings!

Thumb of 2013-03-26/CCvacation/1721f0
Thumb of 2013-03-26/CCvacation/8d0d86
CC

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