I am a self-proclaimed people photographer. Whenever anyone asks what I photograph, I say “anything involving people”. If that’s the case, you might be wondering why I’m posting about photographing flowers and plants. To be honest, I sometimes like to head out on my own and experiment with different types of photography. Doing that, I have found a type of flower photography that I absolutely love. Today I want to share it with you.
For some people, photographing flowers and plants can seem cliche and boring. After all, aren’t flowers what most of us used for test subjects when we first started learning photography? Well, I like to think that we never stop learning and if I’m going to experiment and learn new tricks, a flower doesn’t make a bad subject.
I love wandering around a beautiful garden with an extension tube hooked up to my camera. I first tried out this technique at the Butchart Gardens near Victoria, British Columbia. Since then, I’ve regularly photographed flowers and plants in different locations and with different combinations of lenses and tubes.
My current preferred setup is the Nikon D810, Nikon 135mm f/2.0 lens and the Vello extension tube set (usually the 20mm tube). Because my old extension tube could not communicate with my camera, I originally used the 135mm f/2.0 lens so I could manually set the aperture on the lens itself. With the newer Vello extension tubes that are able to communicate with my camera, I can use any lens I’d like, but I still prefer the results I get from the 135mm focal length the best.
The extension tube allows me to get macro-like results without a dedicated macro lens. The plus side is that I can use my beloved portrait lenses for other types of photography, such as close-ups of flowers and plants. The negative side is that my focusing distance is severely limited. Sometimes only a few inches of a scene are in the focusing area, which means my composition may suffer. Still, because I don’t do it very often and it’s only for fun, I prefer this setup to a dedicated macro lens.
Since I moved to San Francisco last year, I’ve tried to visit the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park at least once a month. There is always something new blooming, so it’s an adventure every time. Some months it’s delicate peonies…
While other months grasses are some of the more fascinating subjects
I try to find shaded areas where I can photograph…
although some direct sun on the backside of a leaf makes for an interesting image as well.
Even the leaves and petals that have fallen to the ground can make interesting subjects.
Here in San Francisco, the magnolia trees bloom between January and March. The Botanic Gardens have a variety of different magnolias and I visited multiple times to see and photograph all of the different types of blooms.
If you ever happen to be in San Francisco and want to go explore the Botanical Gardens, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’m always looking for a reason to get out and shoot!