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It's time for spring flower photos

It’s time for spring flower photos

It’s spring, which means it’s the best time of year to take photographs of flowers. They are a great subject, so easy to find and they never complain about having their picture taken. This is your annual reminder and time for me to recall a few of my favorite tips.

A great part of flower photographs is you don’t need a lot of expensive gear. Certainly a nice DSLR with a macro lens does increase your odds, but it’s not a necessity.

I take photos of flowers whenever I get a chance with my iPhone 3GS. It’s so convenient, I marvel over the ease of carrying my camera at all times and the creative aspect of the different apps.

There’s really no excuse, except bad weather. Of course, a few raindrops on those petals are picturesque.

Here are a few of my favorite tips for improving those photographs of your favorite petunias.

Wind — Early morning usually is the best time of day to take photographs of flowers because the wind is usually pretty calm. Focusing on a moving target is very tough and is especially tough with close-ups. Remember to use  a fast shutter speed to stop the action and sharpen the focus.

Tripod — Using a tripod sure is great for steadying your camera but inconvenient to carry if you walk a long distance. I rarely use a tripod since I like to work more quickly and try many different angles. If you’re shooting in low light, it may be a necessity.

Weather — Use the climate to your advantage. If it’s sunny, rainy, foggy, cloudy or snowing, make use of it. Start early in the day and get the morning dew to accent the petals.

Camera — Like I said before, most cameras today are great for taking flower photographs. Most have a close-up setting. Make sure to consult your manual to find the setting. This will make it possible move in close. Remember to set it back to the normal setting as you pull back with any overall photos.

Angles — This is where you can let your creativity shine. Leave no stone unturned. Be sure to explore all angles as you move in close on your subject. This is a great chance to experiment. Don’t forget to consider getting low and shooting up at flowers. This angle can really be dramatic with the flower petals and dramatic sky. I usually try a more w ide-angle lens from this low angle. I pre-focus the lens and then take pictures with the camera near the ground, taking photos without looking through the viewfinder. Take a bunch of photos with this technique; it will give you the variety you may be looking for.

Depth of field — Changing your f-stop or aperture can really change the look of your flower photos. If you are shooting really close with a macro lens, you will have no problem isolating your subject. As you move back, the depth of  focus will become an issue. Use an f-stop such as f/4 or f/2.8 if you want to limit your focus to one flower, if you’re looking to show the whole field make sure to move the dial to f/8, f/11 or f/16.

Sun and shadows — This is a great chance to experiment with the light. Look for unusual shadows in the background or across the flowers. Remember to use backlight; there is no wrong way to shoot nature.

Focus — Focus is critical, especially with close-up photography. If the wind is blowing, it can really be tough. Thank goodness for the low cost of pixels and autofocus. Takes lots of pictures. Get even closer and focus in on different parts of the flower.

This year I checked out the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, Calif., to start out the spring flower season. It’s a great place to photograph a variety of flowers and get close-up shots of ranunculus, roses, sweet peas and orchids. The entry fee is $10 and they do offer a variety of discounts. Next year I am going to start earlier and check out the desert wild flowers.

Get out there and give it a try. There are so many flowery subjects out there waiting for their starring role.

Photos: (four-photo collage at top) These photographs were taken at the Flower Fields in Carlsbad , Calif., and the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Huntington Beach with a Canon 7D. Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times

The photos within the blog post were taken with my iPhone 3GS with the Hipstamatic App at the Flower Fields and along the coast in Huntington Beach.

Read more reviews and photography tips by Robert Lachman

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