Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring crocus

Spring crocus by The Shutterbug Eye™
Spring crocus, a photo by The Shutterbug Eye™ on Flickr.
I thought I'd share a little bit of spring on a dreary day, well dreary in my area at least.

This crocus is in the front yard garden of my condo which is shared with an upstairs neighbor. I will be honest and tell you all I don't have a green thumb and I don't really garden at all myself.

So I took this picture using a 60mm macro lens. I like that lens because it will focus really close and the picture ends up as big as the real object, more or less. That said, a shot like this one could be taken even with a point and click with the right settings and focus.

It was cloudy so there was not much light. I prefer to shoot in A mode, or Aperture priority mode. This lets me decide how much of the photo will be in focus by picking and f-stop number and the camera decides a shutter speed that works with it. Those numbers range depending on the camera and/or lens. For the lens I was using I had a choice of 2.0 which is open as wide as it gets. That lets lots of light in and gives a very small plane of focus. Or I could go all the way to f22 which lets in very little light but you get a lot of area in focus. If you shoot in full automatic the camera decides everything for you and unfortunately the camera doesn't know what kind of picture you are trying to take.

If you prefer not to tell the camera any of the settings, maybe you are brand new to photography, the automatic setting to tell the camera you are shooting a close-up of a something is depicted by a picture of a flower on most cameras. Set it here if you are not yet comfortable with the more manual settings.

For me, I used Aperture Priority, and I set it to 5.6. This f-stop number is pretty sharp on most lenses. For close-ups I rarely get too low on that number or almost none of my photo is in focus. I let the camera pick the shutter speed.

So, that is how I set my camera. I did not use the flash, I almost never use the pop-up flash. The next thing to think about is what angle, what view do you want to show in your picture. Most people just shoot from standing, they shoot what they see. The problem with that is that is what everyone sees. So for a flower, I suggest you squat, heal or even lay down on the ground to get a more interesting view. That is what I did here. I was almost laying on the ground.

Now I all have to do is push the shutter release, right? Well, first, I need to make sure the part of the image I want in focus is the part that is in focus. I focused mainly on the yellow inside the flower. The focus ranges from somewhere in the front petals through that point and then it drops off and you can see the back petal is blurry. The background is blurred to where there is no detail in the grass. When shooting super close ups I usually focus manually. I find it very hard to get the camera to focus on the right spot for me. This is one of the few times I manually focus. If you want it to auto focus, be sure that the square on your camera is over the part of the image you want in focus.

At this point I push the shutter release button. This photo had very minimal processing done to it so it is close to what came out of the camera. The last comment I have is I take lots of pictures of a single subject. I don't just push the shutter release once and move to my next subject. I took several of this, tweaking focus to be sure I got one where it was right. I also shot this flower from every imaginable angle, some closer, some farther to give me a variety of images to look at and choose from.

Feel free to let me know any questions you may have. I plan to share more about how I get my images and offer tips on this blog going forward than just sharing photos. If you just want to look at my photos, visit my website or you can visit my flickr stream. I also sell a greater variet of small fine art prints on my Etsy store.

Have a great Wednesday!

Diane Miller,
The Shutterbug Eye

Via Flickr:
Close-up of a crocus flower.



  1. I really appreciate all the detail you went into.
    I have never tried AP mode, but I will next time, thanks to you.

  2. Your spring crocus is absolutely gorgeous Diane, What a wonderful post and great advise.