Orchid Photography Tips?

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Elena

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Anyone want to share their orchid photography tips and tricks? Lots of you take seriously fantastic pictures so I'd love to learn a thing or two from you guys, especially when it comes to things like lighting, depth of field etc.

I'm very much a case of all the gear, no (or very little) idea :sob: I normally use my Sony H5 but can always borrow OH's Olympus E-510 DSLR.

My usual approach is to take a bunch of pictures and hope that one or two might turn out okay but I'd love to have a better understanding of how things work.

Anyone else interested in this idea? Eric, perhaps? :evil:
 
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I’m hesitant to open my mouth in this context because I don’t post many photos here (for a number of reasons) and, when I do, it’s just about sharing an image quickly with the realization I didn't mean for it to be art photography; I guess it's all about what your intent is and where your aesthetics lie. The studio backgrounds showcase blooms very well, but don’t be afraid to experiment with other plants in the background, indoors or out. If you can get a bit of natural light to hit your subject matter and expose for /focus on the highlights with lushness in the background, the end product could be really nice to look at in my opinion! It’s ultra-special if the background has something to do with the subject environmentally, but that’s hard to come by or manufacture for most of us.
 
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Elena

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Thanks!

I suppose that what I'm concerned to start with are the slightly more technical aspects such as getting pin sharp imagies where the whole flower is in focus (something that I struggle with, for example), getting the lighting right so it's not too harsh and the colours look true to life rather than issues with, say, composition.
 
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I’m a composition person who still prefers her Leica rangefinder to digital (which was purchased at the expense of walking places instead of driving). I know other people here will chip in with the advice you’re looking for though. Good luck.
 

smartie2000

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for sure remove stakes and labels. If I see a stake I will actually edit them out in the photo! (and then redraw the stem)

Sometimes photographing outside is better than indoors but not always. I attempt different lighting. Sometimes with flash or without. Usually I will get sharper images with flash or outside, setting the digital on automatic mode. My camera is usually good with sharp images on automatic mode. I also set my shutter to its fastest speed to get sharp images when using it without flash, because my hands shake or the bloom wobbles and the image becomes fuzzy.
 
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MoreWater

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I'm not a super photo person, but fwiw, here are my tips. I don't have the Sony, but dpreview has a good review. The color charts and macro distortion are worth looking at. The Oly I do have, so I can actually speak from experience. ;) Apologies in advance if you know this stuff already.

Color
Get to know your camera's quirks. It's likely that auto white balance will not be good enough for photographs under lights. The Oly 510, for example - AWB is a gamble anywhere except under full sun.

If you're lucky, there'll be a preset WB that is close enough. Better still, set your white balance manually. On the Oly, you can also scroll through Kelvin numbers til you hit a good one. The LCD screen is wonderful because you can see the WB effect as you scroll through the options.

You may still have issues with purples and blues, especially on the H5.

You can always do a little adjustment on the computer afterwards, but it's limited. If on the Oly you shoot/save the images in RAW format, you'll have more ability to adjust the color.

Focus
These cameras think they know where you want to focus. Well, they don't. You decide where the auto focus is going to be - in the middle. (I assume there's a way to do this on the H5. On the Oly, you can pick one of three.) Then, you can decide if the pouch or the dorsal is going to have the best focus. Once you have it in focus, you can move the camera (with some risk of losing focus). If the end product is going to be a small image (like on the web), then you may be better off leaving the object in the middle and cropping the image later.

Macro distortion
According to dpreview, looks like you'll get a fair amount of distortion using macro at the wide end, and you'd be better off zooming in a little first.

Lighting
There are good tips in the link above. This might also give you ideas for a diffuse light. I hate dealing with lighting unless I have time to shoot and check and re-shoot, so usually I go the no flash route.

Shake
If your hands aren't too steady, or you're shooting in low light conditions, put the camera on a tripod or any stable surface. If you have a remote, or a timer, use that to take the picture instead of pressing the shutter button.

The image stabilization in the Oly is pretty good, but not good enough for macros of tiny things......
 
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Elena

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This might also give you ideas for a diffuse light.
Genius :D

Thank you, guys, this is helpful. I spent the evening reading up and playing with the Olympus. Most websites mention using a tripod which I already do. One of them suggested setting ISO to 100 in order to reduce noise and others said to use wide aperture to blur the back ground.

Here's a pic of my tranlienianum (it's good for practicing on because it's small and easy to move around). I'm not 100% happy because some bits are not as in focus as I would like, the colour is not quite there and it's still a little shiny but it's already an improvement.



I'll play more tomorrow in the day light..
 
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MoreWater

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I'm not 100% happy because some bits are not as in focus as I would like....
It looks good!

As for how much you can get in focus, the Oly's depth of field tends to be super shallow when you're up close. So while you may usually go wide open to blur the background, doing so may put part of your subject out of focus. For example, photographing something as small as a lepanthes flower at f2.5 on the Oly 510, I blurred out part of the flower. (This photo is cropped so I was actually not that close to the plant....) But I shot this in low light, hand held, at ISO 100, so I couldn't afford to change the aperture more.
 

orcoholic

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In order to get the best focus (depth of field) you need to use the smallest aperture possible. This can be accomplished by shooting at a slow shutter speed. Since you use a tripod this should not be much of a problem.

If your camera has an Av setting you can directly control the aperture. The smaller the number, the greater the depth of field. Thus, if you can get the aperture set at f16, you will have more depth of field than f8. Your camera will automatically set the proper shutter speed. f8 is minimal for decent depth.

Another way to increase depth is to increase the ISO. Most digitals can shoot at ISO 200 with little or no noise.

If your camera has a Tv setting, you can directly control the shutter speed. Setting a slower shutter speed will give you more depth as it will cause the aperture to close more to balance the amount of light with the longer shutter speed.

Increasing the light will allow you to shoot at a greater depth of field as it will allow you to slow the shutter speed and/or use a higher f-stop with a corresponding increase in depth.

The best way to experiment is to keep records of how you take each shot and see what you like best. Try increasing ISO, then reducing shutter speed, then closing down the aperture, increasing the light, then doing a combination of them. You'll see what you like best. With a tripod, you should be able to shoot without a flash. If you can, use natural light.
 
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Elena

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Thanks again, guys! I'm going to experiment with things like shutter speed tomorrow when there's hopefully more light (weather forecast says rain for the rest of the week :poke:)

That's a nice picture, Ki, very atmospheric. I like the colours!
 
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Ernie

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Okay, something's wrong here Ms. Richard Feinman (Elena)... you say you take bad pix, then you post an awesome image of a slipper us gringos can't have. That's just plain mean! :)

-Steve Jobs (Ernie)
 

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In order to get the best focus (depth of field) you need to use the smallest aperture possible.
While it is true that the smallest aperture will give the greatest d/f, because of the way the light is diffracted by the aperture edge, the result may be less sharp overall.

Some cameras have a d/f preview button where you can actually see the range of sharpness. You can also use the d/f scale on your lens, if it has one, for setting focus within the range of d/f.
 

rdlsreno

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Genius :D

Thank you, guys, this is helpful. I spent the evening reading up and playing with the Olympus. Most websites mention using a tripod which I already do. One of them suggested setting ISO to 100 in order to reduce noise and others said to use wide aperture to blur the back ground.

Here's a pic of my tranlienianum (it's good for practicing on because it's small and easy to move around). I'm not 100% happy because some bits are not as in focus as I would like, the colour is not quite there and it's still a little shiny but it's already an improvement.



I'll play more tomorrow in the day light..

That looks great! There will be some areas in the picture which will be slightly out of focus since the flower is three dimensional.

Ramon:)
 
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Elena

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Ernie, you crack me up :D

Right, I got a chance to play with the shutter speed settings today. It was quite late in the afternoon so there wasn't a great deal of light. I prefer the colour on these, the pouch looks less brown and closer to the real life colour.

What do you guys think?



 

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What do you guys think?
I think "not bad!" Now if you could diffuse the light a bit, that would help. The white dorsal sepal shows no detail where the light is brightest. That means this area is overexposed even thought the rest of the flower looks good. It's a matter of getting an appropriate contrast range between the brightest part of the flower, and the darkest.
 
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Elena

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Thanks, Dot, I really appreciate that! I'll have a think about a way of diffusing that light a little...
 

orcoholic

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Elena,

I think the top one is very good albeit a little overexposed. Light is even, and it looks to me like all the detail is there. It looks like you focused on the staminode, or the inside of the pouch. The staminode is usually a good place to focus because it's usually about half way from front to back. In low light, you may not be able to stop down enough to get the whole flower in focus. It's very hard to get a great pic with a digital without photoshopping or using some other program. If you have a program, try taking the top one and cutting the brightness a little. This flower pops.

The bottom looks a little overexposed.
 
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