Where: Places with flowers! (Portugal)
When: by arrangement
Tour Leader: Jose Antunes
Group Size: 4
Highlights: Flower photography done in a simple way, with normal lenses, accessible to anyone with patience and time to wait and SEE.
Flowers my own way
When I say FLOWERS people say MACRO, in a Pavlovian way that amuses me. Well, for me, flower photography does not mean going into the intimacy of flowers. I prefer to use a long lens and keep my distance. It seems hard for some people to believe my pictures are done in such a way. But that’s what I do. Let me share with you my quick guide for flower photography.
My Lens for Flowers
Macro is not the way I like to photograph flowers. Sometimes I do, but most of the time I prefer the results from a long lens. Still, I’ve three macro lenses, from the old 100mm macro (no IS, no USM, just a noise of gears moving) through the 60mm for APS-C , ending on the new 100mm macro all “bells and whistles” - I mean L, IS and USM - , which costs a fortune. But when I go out to photograph flowers, the first lens I pick up is my trusty 100-400mm. For years I’ve used this lens, which is already falling apart. It is the second lens of this type and of the first generation I own, but I simply love the results.
Recently I invested on the new Canon EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 L IS II USM for a very specific reason: it alows me to focus at about half the distance of the original 100-400. Yes, Canon made a lens that has no match. If you want to know more about this read my article Review: The New Canon EF 100-400mm for Flowers and Bees.
It is easy to take a photograph of a flower, and even with a point and shoot you an do it. Point... and shoot. Everyday people upload millions of flower photographs on the web, but most of them go unnoticed. In fact, to create a better photograph of a flower you need something more, that makes the image stand. After all, as I said, there are millions of flower photographs out there, so you need to do someting different, that makes people look twice. And no, you do not need a MACRO lens to do so. You need to SEE and understand your subject.
Flowers: Groups or Single Elements?
There are many ways to photograph flowers - some of them bad - , and multiple things to consider. First you have to define if you’re photographing a group of flowers or a single element. Personally I will always prefer the single element. This said, the choice of a single element is a complex task, although some may think it is easier than having multiple flowers in the frame. A single element asks for multiple decisions before and at the taking stage. This is something I always explore in detail on my workshops. SEEing flowers and the opportunities they give you. Or not.
Please, Let’s Break the Rules
One important thing to consider when photographing flowers is the Rule of Thirds... ah wait... Let’s remember the rule of thirds for what it is, but do it in a simpler way. Follow your heart. Sit down, “TALK” with the flowers, understand what you’ve in front of you, and get to work.
Yes, lines, shapes, framing, are all important, but the richness of photography is the freedom we’ve to see things in different ways. It is more important that you try to keep the image simple, centered on what is really important. This means defining what is your point of focus, or the most important area of the image, and work from there towards a final goal, where everything seems to fit in place. Again, this is something that will take us time on a workshop and something I will try to help you to SEE.
It’s All a Matter of Time
If you don’t have time to sit and observe, to sit and meditate, forget flowers. Go for something else. Flowers are a time consuming subject, and not necessarily to get many photographs at the end of the day. To get results it takes time and sometimes, many times, it takes patience and multiple essays.
No one said it would be easy, and it does not have to be. You want to feel, when you’ve finished, that all the sweat (and tears?) have a reward. A photograph that is closer to what you first dreamed. Or something completely different but still a flower photograph that you created. That’s the goal of the time I spend with you showing how I photograph flowers.
If you came to me because you like my photographs of flowers, than bear with me and listen. Do not ask me for MACRO and other ways, you’re exploring my own path. That’s why you got in touch, right?
So, Now It Is Up to You
If you're interested, do get in touch. I also do One2One sessions, by arrangement. Or you can get a group of friends (minimum 4, maximum 6) and have a private session in your own terms. Do remember, though, that we will be doing flower photography My Own Way.
Canon users have a special option: I've an old 100-400m my trusty lens, for them to use, under a fee, for the time of a session. Have you ever tried to see the world of flowers through a 100-400mm lens? Look at the images on this page. Seduced?