Camera Basics

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 22, 1999

TOMMY WILLIAMS / L’Observateur / February 22, 1999

Although we’re in the middle of another cool front, spring is just around the corner. I always tend to just miss the mass media coverage of “Ground Hog Day,”so I normally keep a close eye on the change in the foliage in our area. Theynormally give the first telltale signs that spring is on the horizon by producing budding flowers, especially on trees. If you take a slow drive through LaPlaceyou will notice that not many of St. John’s residents care very much for flowersor gardening. Ha, ha! That’s a laugh. Almost every other home owner in our parishseems to have some kind of flower bed in or around their residence.

Photographing flowers can be a little tricky a times, so here are a few helpful hints on how to better record those images on film.

Because not too many point and shoot cameras have macro, most of this information will only apply to 35mm SLR camera users.

The first thing to consider when photographing flowers is the type of film speed to use. In this case, I believe that the slower the film speed the better. Asa rule of thumb, slower films normally have less grain and greater contrast, which should result in photos with good, sharp detail and bright colors. Fasterspeed films tend to have more grain and less contrast, which can result in photos that look flat and grainy. So use film with speeds less than 200 ASA toimprove the sharpness and contrast of flower photos.

Secondly, use either a lens with macro settings or close-tip filter set to photograph flowers. If you own a zoom lens of any kind, it will more than likelyhave a macro setting for close-up photography. Just turn the lens to itsminimum focus setting and move the camera position while looking through the viewfinder until the subject comes into focus.

This will allow you to see how close you can get to your subject, with some lenses it will be only inches away. If don’t own a lens with macro or just wantto get closer with your normal lens, purchase a close-up filter set. A close-upfilter set comes with three filters and they are marked +1, +2 and +3 to indicate the strength of its magnification. The higher the number, the closer itwill allow you to get to your subject. Depth of field is at a minimum, when youmove in closer or when you use these filters, so close down that aperture to F- 11 or greater.

Lastly, use a tripod and cable release to steady the camera for greater sharpness. As you close down the aperture it will result in slower shutterspeeds, meaning out of focus photos due to camera or shutter vibration. Using atripod prevents camera shake from the wind and shutters vibration. Using eithera cable release or self-timer will prevent camera vibration due to pressing the shutter release button.

Some people say that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I just want one that’s worth $39.95, which is what I paid for a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day. But more importantly, this should be enough information to get you on the right path to photographing your own flowers.

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