There’s an old story that goes like this: The Company that made the first portable personal camera rented a bunch of monkeys. When the time came to premiere their new product, they had the monkeys all carry the cameras into the crowd to demonstrate that photography was now so easy that even a monkey could do it.
If that camera company tried having the monkeys take pictures of plants, they might not have sold those first portable cameras.
This may sound familiar: You try to take a picture of a prized flower, only to wind up with a colorful blob in the middle of your image. Taking pictures of plants is harder than it looks. Fortunately, with the right equipment it’s not impossible. Just don’t let a monkey do it.
In photography, lighting is everything. Make sure that you are taking your photos at the right time of day to take advantage of good lighting. The best time to take pictures are those hours known as the “golden hours.” These are the hour around sunrise and the hour around sunset. The shadows are very soft during this time and the lighting seems to have a warmer quality. Conversely, high noon is the worst time of day to take pictures. During this time, shadows are hard and the contrast between highlighted areas and shadowed areas is much bigger.
Select a lens that will let you get close to your subject. A macro lens is best because it will allow you to take pictures from a few inches away. This will allow you to fill the lens with your subject. If you don’t have a macro lens, you will have to move further away from your subject in order to make a clear image.
Know the minimum distance that your camera and lens require in order to focus clearly and do not get closer to your subject than this minimum distance. Getting too close to a subject is how you end up with a blurry foreground and a clear, sharp background.
You don’t need expensive equipment to get good pictures. Small, compact cameras with a macro setting will work just fine. Just ask anyone who uses their macro setting to take pictures for eBay.
A macro setting is that button on the settings dial that looks like a tulip. (It’s not surprising that a macro setting button looks like a flower, since that’s what the macro setting is used to photograph the most).
Tomorrow, I’ll discuss how to use a tripod to get better pictures.