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Flower Photography >

4 - Lens-related Topics

There are seven lens-related topics.

Topic #1 - Lenses

A macro lens is great for flower photography.

Macro lenses allow you to get very close to a flower.


Macro lenses are available in three focal lengths: 60mm, 100, and 150mm.

The advantage of 60mm macro lenses is less cost.

The disadvantage is that you're close to the flower, possibly blocking the light.

There are other ways to get close.

You can use extension tubes and lenses that screw on your lens like filters.

Go to Macro (Close-up) Photography.

Topic #2 - Polarizing Filter

A Polarizing filter may darken blue skies.

An unsung use is reducing the glare off of leaves.

A rose will look prettier if the leaves in the background are a deep green (Polarizing filter)—instead of a whitish green (no filter).

Topic #3 -

Subject Distance from the Lens

Your lens has a minimum focusing distance.

The lens won't be able to focus if you're too close to the flower.

Most digital SLR zoom lenses are designed to do close-ups at the telephoto focal lengths, not at the wide-angle focal lengths.

Therefore, to do a close up, oddly, you may have to be far away from the flower.

If your lens has a focal length range, say, from 18mm to 200mm, try using it at 200mm, or thereabout, for close ups.


If you're using a point-and-shoot camera, you may have a focus setting that allows you to get closer to the subject.

Check the camera instruction manual for a macro setting.

Topic #4 - Depth-of-field

If the flower is close to the camera, depth-of-field is important.

Set the exposure mode dial to A or Av.

To get more in focus, select a physically small lens opening, such as f/16.

Keep an eye on the shutter speed.

With physically small lens openings, of course, there's little light reaching the sensor via the lens opening.

The camera may select a shutter speed that's too slow.

If so, you're more likely to get blurred photographs from:

• Camera shake.

• Moving flowers, even if it's not especially windy.

Topic #5 -

Hand-held Camera Focusing Difficulty

When you're close to the flower, if you move slightly, the focus point moves dramatically.

Try switching the lens to manual focus using the switch on the lens.

Focus by spinning the focus ring.

This ring is usually at the front of the lens, where the lens cap goes.

Focus, and then move your body back-and-forth slightly to fine tune the focus.

If you're using a point-and-shoot camera, check the camera instruction manual to see if you can manually focus.

Take more than one photograph to insure you get at least one photograph that has the focus where you intended it to be.

Topic #6 -

Camera Chooses Where to Focus

By default, your camera is set to focus according to algorithms stored in its computer.

Therefore, it may chose to focus on a flower that's closer to the camera, when you want to focus on a distant flower.

Change your camera to focus only in the middle of the frame.

Then, do the following.

1) Point the center of the frame at the focus point you choose.

2) Lock in the focus by partially depressing and holding the shutter release.

3) Reframe the composition, if necessary.

Topic #7 -

Telephoto Focal Lengths

There are advantages and disadvantages to using telephoto focal lengths.

Four Possible Advantages

1) As mentioned, you can get closer to the flower, i.e., the flower is larger in the frame

2) You're not blocking the light.

3) The distant background is blurred more, not due to depth-of-field, but because of the telephoto focal length.

4) The distant background appears to be much closer to the flower.

This apparent compression of space works well when the flower and background look good together.

Two Possible Disadvantages

1) If the background and the flower don't work well together, recompose or use a focal length that's not as telephoto.

2) The flower may appear to be flattened.

When using a telephoto focal length, you're far away from the subject, of course.

This perspective, far away from the flower, tends to flatten the subject.

The flower may look less dimensional.

Next, we'll look at some other flower-photography topics.