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Wildflower Photoraphy Tips
by Barry Baker


Photo TipsIf you are magically lured to fields of wildflowers in hopes of capturing that perfect image that will amaze yourself or your family and friends, then read on. We’re going to explore the differences between using a D-SLR camera versus a compact digital camera.

The logical assumption might be that serious wildflower photography can only be successfully achieved with a D-SLR, but that’s not always the case. There is actually a specific weather condition in which the compact digital camera has quite the advantage – WIND! Yes, the springtime weather here in Texas is often very breezy, making it a true challenge to successfully photograph those large meadows of wildflowers.

Photo TipsLet me explain: The difficulty with the D-SLR lies with the depth of field or focus depth. With the exception of really wide angle lenses, the D-SLR requires a much smaller aperture, or lens opening, to achieve enough depth of field to get that beautiful meadow of flowers in focus. This leads to a much slower shutter speed, and hence the problem with the wind. Your flowers are blowing back and forth too fast to be in focus. If you adjust your lens opening to F5.6 or so to achieve a faster shutter speed that stops the swaying action of the flowers, then your focus depth is so shallow that many of the flowers will be fuzzy. What to do? Compact digital camera to the rescue!

The compact digital cameras have what is called an equivalent focal length to the 35mm camera. While it may appear like a 28mm lens as you look through the viewfinder, most of the cameras are in the 7mm range. A 7mm lens has a tremendous depth of field, even at F2.8, which will give you a fast enough shutter speed to stop the motion of the flowers for your photograph. As a result, the compact digital camera is actually the more effective tool for photographing large meadows of wildflowers during those breezy spring days.

Photo TipsIn regard to close-up wildflower photography, selecting the correct lens for your D-SLR is crucial to your success. Many photographers opt for a macro lens for close-up wildflower or insect photography, but this is not necessarily the best application for such a lens. “Close-up” doesn’t have to mean that you are physically close to your subject, but that you are optically close. I feel that an ideal working distance is about two or three feet. This distance enables you to avoid shadows on your subject and if you’re photographing bees in your wildflowers, how close do you really want to be anyway?  So my lens of choice for close-up photography is the Tamron 70-300mm macro zoom. This particular lens can macro to ½ life size at 300mm on a D-SLR. With a “c” size sensor, the macro improves to 75% of life size. Many other 70-300mm zooms can only reproduce to 25% of life size. This lens also allows you that magical 3 feet of working space that I referred to earlier, allowing you to peer into a flower more safely and avoid a close encounter of the stinging kind! The Tamron lens is a great workhorse and is very reasonably priced at under $200.

Click here to download a printable version of Wildflower Photography Tips.

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