Summer flower Photo Tips

yellow rose, red rose, closeup, rose, garden, flower, photo workshop

Summer is here and everyday it seems like a new flower is in bloom, take some time and check out your community and see if there are any formal gardens in your area. If so These areas can provide you with plenty of subjects and chances to practice your close-up photo techniques. If you own macro lens pack it in your bag, a more affordable alternative to a Marco lens is a set of extension tubes.

On any given day you will usually find lots of people with sell phones and point and shoots snapping photos. For better results as a photographer the old saying rings true “If you snooze you lose” . Set your alarm for before sunrise head out and get set up so you can enjoy the soft morning light and capture dew drops left behind by the cool night.
Below you will find a few tips to help you get some nice garden shots this summer.

Cameras: Almost any camera will give you a good photo in good, if you are looking for photographs that will isolate your flower from the background, or capture the whole garden in a wide angle view. Consider an interchangeable lens camera a DSLR or any of the new mirror-less camera systems. For more information on mirror-less cameras check out the pocket lenses podcast, every week Sonny talks about the latest news in the mirror-less camera world, he also has interviews from photographers from around the world.

Lenses: As I mentioned above flower gardens offer plenty of photographic opportunities so bring a wide angle lens, macro lens and a normal range zoom lens. You can also use a 70-200mm to isolate your subject from the background.

Tripod: A good steady tripod becomes your friend when doing close up photography or any type of landscape work. have a tripod and ball head that will support the weight of your gear.

Remote Shutter release: Pick up shutter release cable, or these days there are wireless options and cellphone options for remotely triggering your camera. But to keep things simple and keep you connected to your camera and subject get a generic cabe that is compatible with your camera. This is an accessory that will not add a lot weight to your bag but you can use it every time you are out shooting.

Reflector or flash: Use a 5 in 1 reflector the white side can be used to bounce just a little extra light into the flower helping to bring out the detail. The 5-1 also has a diffuser panel on the inside and this can be used to soften direct sunlight as the sun gets higher in the sky. A flash unit can also be used to add light, change the flash power output to just add enough light to not over expose the delicate flower petals.

Knee Pads: I have been using knee pads for years “best thing ever” I get mine at one of the big box hardware stores, mine are just a foam pad covered in a heavy nylon cloth and they go on with Velcro. Another option is the foam pad you can place on the ground these are nice when the ground is wet, rocky or muddy. Knee protection is one of those comfort items that will really make your photo days a lot more enjoyable.

Spray Bottle: Have a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops go glycerin and you will have instant dew when mother nature doesn’t cooperate and there is no natural due on the flowers.

Other Items you should always have with you are charged batteries with out power your digital camera is a garden ornament, memory cards and filters (polarizer)

A good way to approach formal garden photography is to first look at the entire garden, remember to tell a story take the opening scene or the establishing shot. The opening photo can be a wide angle photo maybe low angle but don’t forget a high angle shot. Next look over the garden and decide where you want to shoot. Very important when you are looking for your subjects step back and look is there a pleasing background its much easier to get the photo right when you take it.

My last bit of advise is be deliberate in your photography, take less better photos then hundreds of so-so photos, you will be very happy when you get home and you download your days photos into the computer. Its much easier to look over 75 photos the 400 photos.

For more photography information take a look at Explore Photography Workshops

So enjoy your self and Keep on Shooting


Comments will be turned off

I will be turning off comments because of the amount of spam after adding a captcha by Captcha by BestWebSoft I got more spam in 24 hours then the past 2 weeks.  So I can not recommend their plugin.


Joshua Tree National Park Spring Workshop

Joshua Tree National Park, explore photography workshops, photo workshops,Explore Photography Workshops, Spring photo workshop in Joshua Tree National Park.  We will be exploring dark skies and wild flowers.  check us out at Explore Photography Workshops




Get ready for the Perseid meteor shower this week

Yesterday I posted this on our workshop website  Please check us out for our upcoming San Diego and Joshua Tree National Park.

Meteor showers are created when the earth passes through dust particles left behind by a comet that crossed earths orbit, some times many hundreds of years ago. The comets as they travel around the sun warms up and leaves a trail of particles behind. As we orbit the sun every year the Earth will from time to time will pass through these dust trails and the small particles hit our atmosphere and burn up. Its this burning process that produces the fireballs or more commonly called shooting stars. The American Meteor Society has a list of the major meteor showers through out the year. The list gives you a lot of information on where to look to see the fireballs, also the name of the comet that left the particles behind for us to enjoy, and what days the peak of the Meteor shower will occur.

In august one of the best Meteor showers of the year peaks on the night of August 12 to 13, this year. Thanks to the comet Swift-Tuttle, you can watch Meteors any time from mid July to the end of August. This shower is called the Perseids Meteor shower named after the star constellation they appear to come from (this is know as the radiant) the radiant for the Perseids is the constellation Perseus, I have included a star chart showing where to look.

This is where you need to look when searching for the meteors. from sky and telescope

This is where you need to look when searching for the meteors. from sky and telescope

When to look in the night sky on August 12th to see the Perseid meteor shower. Photo from sky and telescope
When to look in the night sky on August 12th to see the Perseid meteor shower. Photo from sky and telescope

When watching meteor showers is don’t just stare at any one place in the sky keep your eyes moving slowly in the general direction of the shower and you will increase your chances of seeing a shooting star.

2015 – This should be a good year the sky will be dark with the new moon on August 14th. So moonlight will not hinder your vision. During an average year the Perseids will present about 60 fireballs an hour.

Why photograph a meteor shower? Its fun, You will learn some new photographic techniques, you will get out into nature. The most important reason is unlike our eyes the lens will see the whole sky, like I said earlier you need to not focus on one area in the sky, our eyes tend to have a rather narrow field of view and we need to keep our eyes moving to see the whole sky. Your camera on the other hand with a wider angle lens sees everything, and when the shutter is open it will record a shooting star anywhere in its sight.


Night photography means low light photography unless there is a full moon. For the best results you should have a newer digital camera one made in the last 5 years or so. These newer cameras offer better low light and ISO performance allowing you to get some good shots of the night sky. Lens choice should be a wide angle lens in the 16mm range is best but 24 mm will work, a lens with a wide aperture will help let in lots of light, depth of field in nighttime star photography is not a concern. Having a lens capable of gathering more light is more important. Your exposures will be long so a sturdy tripod is needed you can also get a small bean bag (sand bag) and use it to prop your camera up in the proper position. What is really needed is a way to keep the camera still during long exposures. A cable release is a nice option to have. One other item if you are going to be out shooting for a few hours is get a small chemical hand warmersfrom an outdoor store, this one will be gaff taped or secured to your lens to keep dew from forming on the front element and fogging all your exposures.

I have seen lots of articles talking about camera gear now lets take a minute to think about personal gear, it may be August but remember at night the air cools off rapidly so have a coat hat and even a light pair of gloves, bring a chair or a lounge type folding chair so you are not tipping your heed back for hours at a time, this will result in a stiff neck in the morning. So get warm, get comfortable and have a warm drink with you. and enjoy the night sky.

Settings to be used for night photography:

For most nights you will set your widest zoom, widest f-stop (f2.8 or f-4, if possible). When figuring out what the best exposure is if you have dark skies, skies with out city lights and with a wide angle lens you can set your shutter speed to 25 to 30 seconds and take a photo that will produce nice pinpoint stars. Remember the earth is rotating at 1000 MPH, and at the same time we are moving around the sun at about 65,700 MPH so even though the sky may not look like its moving it is and exposures over 30 seconds will start showing small star trails. In other words night photography is also capturing motion photography but at a cosmic pace.

There is a rule for making photographs at tight, there are rules for everything in photography. This is the rule of 500, very simply it goes like this divide 500 by the focal length of the lens you are using to get the number of seconds needed for a good exposure with sharp stars. so using a 16mm lens, take 500/16 and get 31.25 seconds you can round this down to 30 seconds, most cameras have a 30 second shuttered you can dial in. Your ISO setting depends on the low light capabilities of your camera in most cases the newer cameras can handle 100 with out producing any digital noise. My Nikon D610 will shoot at ISO 6400 and produce a very clean image.

Taking the exposures:

To increase your chance of photographing a meteor your goal is to take repeated 30 second exposures over a rather long period of time. If you have your shutter release cable set the chair up next to your camera and click off a new exposure every 30 seconds or so. If your camera has a built in Intervalometer, most newer cameras do (check your ever important user manual to see if yours does and how to set it), set it to do the work for you. This way if you get cold you can get into your car or house and let the camera take photos every 30 seconds for a few hours.

Where to aim your camera we know the meteors come from basically the same spot in the sky, the only problem here is this spot will move through the night. By aiming your camera 45 to 90 degrees from the radiant this will let you photograph some longer trails as the meteors pass through the atmosphere.

Well your night of shooting is done now what, well photoshop will be your best friend if you would like to stack images and have more then one shooting star in the photo. You can find many online tutorials on stacking techniques so do a quick search and watch a couple of videos, they all ahem few things in common, import into light room, export to photoshop in layers, select the layers above your first image and using a soft brush tool mask out the shooting stars. you can align your layers so it appears all the shooting stars are coming from the same direction if you like, I also like seeing random long streaks of light against the start background.

So on August 12th get warm , get out and try something new. Have fun.


Double planet encounter

double planet. first close encounterThe New Horizons spacecraft that was launched in 2006, has just completed its mission objective with a fly by of Pluto.  what we may have found is that Pluto and what was it’s largest moon Charon may in fact be a double planetary system with each planet rotating around a point in space. if this is found to be true we have just witnessed our else photos of such a system.

at the very least it looks like Plutos surface is complex enough with snow cover and strange polygonal shapes , that it may be reinstated as a planet.  I am looking forward to see more NASA photos like the one I. this post and I will be following  closely the news releases from our most distant (well most of the time, most distant) member of our little piece of the universe.


New Long exposure Gallery added

I was going through my photos looking at exposure times and I choose a few to create a new gallery.  Long exposure can be used to show, the passing of time, motion, or just in increase in detail in photograph.  Please take a look and I hope you enjoy them.

San Diego Mission San Diego Mission


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