April Short Shoot Flower Tips

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Something to think about: Poppies don’t wake up til after 9:30am more like 10am which means you’ll be dealing with the sun a lot. Think water, light colored clothing, long sleeves, hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. I had a long sleeve white shirt on the other day and although it made me a little warm I appreciated the
assist in dealing with the extremely bright sun. Also, you’ll want to wear very comfortable clothing and closed toe shoes. There’s a lot of sand as well as it being spring and there are bees/ insects and maybe even some snakes out and about.

Keep in mind this is a short shoot. We will not be out all day, but you still may need a small snack of a granola bar or trail mix depending on when you had breakfast. Please make sure you eat breakfast and keep in mind that there are no bathrooms where we’re going.

Things to pack/ think about packing:

  • Camera
  • Empty memory card (maybe a backup)
  • Fully charged battery and a backup (this seems to be a common issue on LPA field trips lol)
  • Lens – if shooting with a point and shoot this isn’t necessary but if using a DSLR think about this: you’ll want the flexibility to shoot the flowers up close, a little further away and the overall landscape. So, you’ll either want a telephoto lens that gives you that flexibility or wide angle/ macro and zoom lenses that you can switch out. You’re choice based on your abilities and equipment.
  • Tripod? – again your call. When I was out a few days ago I liked the flexibility of not having one because I could twist around at weird angles on the fly and not worry about the tripod. But if you want your camera to be super still and don’t plan on moving around a lot while shooting then you’ll definitely want a tripod.
  • Other - shutter release, filters- a UV filter or polarizing filter might be handy to try out different types of shots and to deal with the bright sun.
  • Water, hat, sunscreen, snack
  • Manual – If you haven’t used your camera in a while, have a new camera or are still new-ish to photography I definitely suggest bringing it. Not every camera is the same.

Things to think about while shooting wildflowers:

At the bottom is a link to a mini e-book chocked full of excellent information on photographing wildflowers so I won’t duplicate anything here. Definitely read through it as quite a bit of what I would have said here is in it with a lot more detail.

  • Wind –There is always wind in the Antelope Valley. If it’s a mild windy day, be patient, go ahead and set up your shot. There will be a brief second in between the mild bursts of wind where everything is still. You’ll see it through your lens/ screen and will know just when to release the shutter. If there’s a more consistent wind then consider blocking it either with another photographer, a jacket or a screen of some sort.
  • Sun – Since Poppies don’t “wake up” til around 10am, you’ll be dealing with a lot of sun. Think about ways to counteract that. You can shoot away from the sun. You can block it with yourself or a screen and photograph in the shadows. You can diffuse it either with a filter or opague shower curtain, or naturally with an overcast or cloudy day if you’re that lucky. Regardless, you’ll be dealing with a lot of sun so be prepared. Be sure to take a few shots where you don’t worry about the sun because you might end up with some really cool color effects on your flowers and not need to post-process them in.
  • Point of View- I like to think of five points of view when composing and taking my shots. These aren’t technical terms of course. The point here is to move around! Don’t just stay glued to one spot. Even if you only can move or bend a few inches in the opposite direction or turn around – try it!
    • Insect View – This involves being on the ground looking up at the flowers. You’ll see a lot of stem leading your eye up to blossom and sky all above. There is potential for some great leading lines in your shots.
    • Flower View – This involves having the lens just above the ground on the same level as the blossoms as if it were one flower looking at another flower.
    • Straight Down View – This looks like you’re a bee coming in for nectar. This involves having your camera lens parallel to the actual flower blossom. Be careful you don’t get too close; all lenses have a natural distance they need to be in focus. If using a zoom lens, back up a little and zoom in. This view also lets you get the entire bloom in focus.
    • Typical Human View – We all have seen this angle. It’s the one where the photographer is standing and aims down at a slight angle towards the ground. You end up with one area of your shot in focus.  Not always the best angle to use but sometimes it provides the exact effect you’re looking for.
    • Big Picture View – This involves getting the overall landscape in your shot. You can do this standing up to include the far away back ground. Flowers tend to look very small with this which can be cool looking. Or you can squat down and shoot making the flowers look a little bigger. Just depends on what you want to give more emphasis to.
  • Focus/ Depth of Field - Of course we always want what we want in focus in our shots. But we can’t always control that with the wind. During very windy moments might be better to try those landscape shots where you’re standing up so the flowers look more like a blanket anyway.

    • Want Everything in Focus? – Don’t zoom in if dealing with landscapes. If using a camera with program modes or a point and shoot try the specific mode for what you’re shooting - landscape, flower, macro mode. If using a DSLR, think about the fact that the higher your F stop is (f22) the smaller the opening is on your lens allowing for more of your image to be in focus (but also lets in less light so be careful to find the right balance). This is important with both landscapes as well as straight down shots of your flowers.
    • Want Part in Focus and Part Blurry? If using a point and shoot camera, step back and zoom in to where what you want in focus is framed a little by its surrounding environment. This will help the camera focus on what you want it to and leave the rest blurry. Doesn’t usually work if you fill the
      frame with the entire image because then it pulls everything into focus. This also works with a zoom lens on a DSLR. Also, if you use a lower F stop on your camera (F 3.5) the larger the opening is on your lens allowing for what is up front in your frame to be in focus and what behind it to not be. This
      also lets in more light so be careful. This makes those Insect and Flower view shots look really cool.

Most importantly have fun! Try things you wouldn’t normally do.

Here’s a link to a Free E-book on Wildflower Photography Tips,

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