Photography Field Trip -- Botanical Gardens

I ran across a small garden in Sacramento, heavily shaded, but lush with spring time greenery and scattered flowers. No one else was around. I had the place to myself, so I had the time and the concentration to focus on what I was seeing and how to photograph it the best. I wander through letting my eyes land on spots of sunlight or color. Naturally your eyes will go to areas of brightness.

This makes for difficult photography though. You have to be very careful or your subject will be washed out in a pool of darkness, or vice versa. I set my camera to the lowest ASA 50. This lets minimal lighting in. It means that you have to be careful to hold your camera very still too. You should use a tripod, but I didn’t have one with me. I also lowered the exposure to -2/3 to keep down on the bright spots. If you’re not comfortable with changing your setting like that, I recommend sticking to photos of things in deep shade only. Your camera will balance the light if it’s consistent.

The best trick I know is to stand as far back as you can and then zoom in close to your subject. This allows that dreamy quality to your pictures with the foreground and the background blurry and the subject brightly focused. Actually, this works even better if the background is a distance away from the subject, it will look even more blurry. You have to hold the camera very steady for this. Take lots of pictures, because you won’t be able to tell which ones are out of focus until you view them on a bigger screen.

If you want to become a better photographer, take the time to go on little field trips. Find a picturesque place and mess around. Photography is more about training your eyes to find interesting subjects, but it is also about turning on the camera and figuring out how to make it do what you want. I am just barely starting to learn. Sessions like this help me see better.

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