Sunday, March 30, 2014

An Indoor Spring: Flower Photos from a local Floral Shop

As I may have mentioned in my previous post, it's been a LONG winter here in Milwaukee.  We've dubbed it the winter that never ends.  However, today is gorgeous outside - sunny, not too windy and almost 60 degrees!  So I'm sitting here writing this post in my living room with the patio door open enjoying the sounds and smells of the new spring (even though it's back to the normal 30's-40's starting Tuesday - oh well).

Yesterday was another nice day, and I spent part of it at Waukesha Floral & Greenhouse where, thanks to Art's Camera Plus, they opened their doors to Art's Camera Club and let photographers go in and take photos of anything they want.  Like any garden store they had a greenhouse, large indoor plant section and gift shop.  This is a great place to practice macro photography and other flower photography, and since it's indoors, you don't get harsh shadows that you would get photographing flowers outside on a sunny day (although some of the spots in the greenhouse did have harsh sunlight). 

I also did this last year, and learned so much about aperture setting, manual focus and focal length.  The best way to take macro shots of flowers, where only part of the flower is in focus and everything else is blurry, is to set your DSLR to Aperture Priority for Canon (not sure the equivalent for Nikon), take the aperture setting down to its lowest setting (mine goes down to 4.5-5.0) and then use the ISO setting (the one that measures in 100's) to make the photo brighter or darker, depending on how you want it to look.  I usually keep that setting to 100-200 unless the room is really dark, and then I move it up).  Then keep your camera on a tripod, get in close and use manual focus to get part of the flower sharp.  If you have a camera that has a lens with image stabilization, like mine, you can get in closer without a tripod, but keep your body as still as you can.  This is because the aperture is open so wide, any little movement is going to throw your whole photo out of focus.  This happened to me a few times yesterday, but, thanks to digital photography, I just deleted them and tried again.

Below are some of the photos I took.  Not all of them are macros, some are groups and a couple of vignettes, but I do like to change things up during photo shoots.  Unfortunately, there weren't as many flowers in bloom as there was last year, due to our February faux spring, but there was still a lot to look at and it was another fun experience.  Hopefully, the next flower photos you see from me will be from an outside garden!

Happy Spring everyone!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mini-Landscapes: Mitchell Park Domes "Steampunk Railroad" Exhibit

Well, I have to say this has been a winter for the record books in Milwaukee, and not in a good way.  It has either been snowy or freezing cold since late November, which has really put a damper on my photography.  But, I found an excuse to bring my camera out of storage from when I moved and use it again.  Even though the high today is 10, I went out to my favorite indoor botanical garden, The Mitchell Park Domes for the last day of their annual model train show.  This year's theme was "Steampunk" which I only know about through a couple of friends who do this type of art work.  If you don't know what Steampunk is, the Domes provided this nice sign as a description:

The exhibit seemed to focus on the Old West, complete with little industrial towns, bridges, tunnels and a train depot.  The way they planted the featured winter flowers was interesting, too, making them look like pink, red and purple trees dotting the landscape.

I started out taking photos with my 35 mm standard-length lens, which showed off the Old West design nicely.  But then I decided to switch lenses to my 200 mm telephoto lens, just to see if it made a difference.  It really did!  I was able to get close enough to make each area of the setup look like mini-landscapes and that's when the real fun began:

In addition to the train set-up, they had little vignettes around the perimeter of the Show Dome displaying the arts and crafts examples of Steampunk:

I'm glad I forced myself to get out into the cold to head to downtown Milwaukee and see this exhibit.  The Domes always has such great displays, every season, and this was one of their best yet.