Photography for Botanical Illustrators With DBG Photographer Scott Dressel Martin scott@dresselmartin.


The Technical Controls and Considerations Digital ISO/Film Choices Slow, Medium & Fast Shooting RAW files or high quality jpg files Shoot the best quality file whenever possible Film Storage/File Storage DVDs, Disks and Hard Drives Look into backup software Hard drives are the best for long-term storage Film Grain/Digital Noise Grain is a function of the chemical makeup of the film Noise is a function of the information gathering quality of your camera's chip The higher the ISO setting the greater the grain/noise With digital, long exposures such as night photography may result in increased noise Focusing Auto – continuous and single Manual Selective Zone (pre-focus) Follow Focus Tripod Using a tripod will allow you to create more conscious, thoughtful composition. It allows you to work more slowly and methodically. It also allows you to make photographs at much slower shutter speeds provided your subject is motionless. I strongly recommend you use a tripod for your photography whenever possible.

Metering and Exposure The relationship between apertures, shutter speeds and iso is the most basic yet most important creative control in photography. Equivalent Exposure - The value of one "stop" in photography Opening up 'one-stop' increases your light gathering by a factor of two - or it allows

twice as much light to get to your "film" This will make your photo lighter. Closing down 'one-stop' decreases your light gathering by a factor of two - or it allows only half as much light to get to your "film" This obviously makes your photo darker. Aperture - controls the amount of light getting into your camera by the size of the lens opening. The creative control of Aperture is Depth of Field. We'll do a quick exercise in class to understand depth of field. Shutter Speed - controls the amount of light getting into your camera by the amount of time the shutter is open. The creative control of shutter speed is the effect or illusion of motion in your images such as blurring or stop-action.

How You and Your Camera Handle Exposure Camera metering modes Your camera has a reflective meter. It reads the light reflected off the subject Averaging Center Weighted Spot Multi-Segment Exposure Modes √ Auto Exposure is independent of auto focus Auto Exposure/Program - The camera makes all the choices which normally results in an acceptable exposure - Great for parties and low commitment photography. Aperture Preferred (sometimes A mode, sometimes Av mode) - you choose the aperture and the camera chooses the shutter speed - I recommend Aperture Preferred for nature photographers! It offers you the easiest method for controlling the most important creative aspects of your photography. Shutter Preferred (sometimes S mode, sometimes Tv mode) - you choose the shutter speed and the camera chooses the aperture - Great for action photography! Manual Exposure - you choose the aperture and shutter speed - in order to do this successfully you need to know how to read the camera's meter to make a combination that will allow in the proper amount of light for a correct exposure. This method requires a greater commitment and more attention to detail.

Exposure Compensation This allows you the ability to adjust your exposure lighter or darker on the fly. Exposure Lock This allows you to take a meter reading of a certain area then re-compose and photograph with that reading locked in. Bracketing This means making several duplicate images at different exposures. Film Exposure Slides - Expose for the highlights Negatives - Expose for the shadows Digital - Expose for the bright tones, Most of the information lies in the bright areas of the image

The Creative Controls of Your Camera Motion and Depth of Field Controlling Motion Shutter Speeds Stop action Panning Blur

Controlling Depth-of-Field (DoF) Your camera's aperture The DoF trick with your hands Minimum DoF Maximum Dof Hyperfocal Distance Metering for tonality. Taking a meter reading and adjusting to proper exposure for the tonal value of your subject.

The Creative Controls of Photography Color, Light, Clarity, Composition, Subject Matter

Color The first consideration is color temperature, also referred to as "white balance". On digital camera's you can set the color temperature. Main choices - auto, sunshine, shade, cloudy, fluorescent and incandescent. Some cameras also have the ability to do a "custom white balance" If you are shooting film you will need to match the film to the lighting. With incandescent lights you will need to use tungsten slide film or a filter. The film tends to work better than the filter. Lighting Think of lighting in terms of hardness and softness and contrast. Contrast is a function of the light being hard or soft. The softness or hardness of the light is determined by the size of the light source in comparison to the subject. A small light source on a large object will create a hard light. A large light source on a small object will create a soft light. Hard light is very contrasty. It transitions from full light to deep shadow very quickly. Think about standing outside at noon on a clear day. The light source is the pinpoint of the sun. Now look down at your shadow. If the shadow is very distinct and sharply outlined the light is contrasty and hard. Soft light is less contrasty. It transitions from full light to shadow much more gradually. Think about standing outside on a cloudy day. The light source is the entire cloudy sky. Now try to look down at your shadow. If you have one at all it will be diffused and much less descript. Shadows Shadows gain mass and importance in photographs. In reality we tend to "look through" the shadows and dismiss them. In photographs however those large black areas can easily come to dominate the image. Use shadows judiciously in your images. Shadows can make an image much more visually complex than it appears to your eye. We tend to get much richer photos with deeper color in medium contrast situations. Having a distinct highlight and shadow portion of your subject will infuse your image with shape and dimension. The transition of tones within your image will give your subject depth. Direction of Light Light from the direct front such as on-camera-flash can be harsh and blatant. It flattens out your subject and can cause unacceptable shadows in your background. Light coming from the side top or rear of the subject can often help to add dimension to the subject by giving it a more distinct highlight and shadow. "Studio" lighting

When lighting a subject with your own light sources rather than the natural light you have several options to change the character of the light. Direction - as discussed above Distance - closer light is more intense, light further away is less intense but harder As you move the light source farther from the subject it gets smaller and therefore harder. You can set a light ration from one light to the next by changing the distances of the two light. For example, if you have one light 2 feet from your subject and one light 4 feet from your subject the second light is twice as far away but has four times less light. This is dictated by the inverse square law which we won't spend much time on now. Light Modifiers When lighting we use many different methods to modify the character of the light. Bounce cards - to reflect the light and create a bigger light source Black cards - to absorb light and increase contrast Umbrella's or translucents - soften the light between the light source and the subject Gels - used to change the color of the light at the source - a gel is like a filter for your lights Flash Photography Flash has a time and place. However, using the direct blast of frontal light on your subject can easily flatten out your image and take away the character of the natural light. There are two times to use flash photography. The first is when you need to add light where there is not enough light. Photographing friends at a cocktail party or wedding reception calls for flash or you would not be able to make the photo at all. The other time to use flash is to replace the natural light completely or to supplement the natural light. When I use flash I often use an off-camera flash cord. This allows me to move the flash off the camera axis to add direction to the light. I also often use a small reflector with my flash. This increases the size of the light in relation to the subject and therefore gives me a softer light as well. With the cord and reflector I control the direction and softness of the light. Other lighting options Incandescent bulbs. The color won't be as accurate but it is an inexpensive option for creating a home studio. Photo floods or Tungsten lights. Studio strobe kits - great for the very committed these kits are a more expensive option. Polarizing filter A polarizing filter does not necessarily change the color of a scene but it can change the contrast of the scene. Polarizing filters can also remove the ambient reflections from leaves and petals which will intensify the natural color. Lens Choice

You will need the ability to get very close to your subjects. Macro or Micro lenses - these are lenses specifically designed to allow you to focus very close, sometimes to a ration of 1:1 or more. Macro Diopters - These are more like filters that screw onto your lens and allow you to focus very closely. They are a less expensive and lighter option. Macro function on your point-and-shoot camera Test your camera's macro function to see how close you can get. Composition In photography we are taking the three-dimensional animate world and transforming it into a two dimensional inanimate world on paper. The dimension of depth cannot be captured in its entirety. It can only be alluded to through the use of creative lighting and thoughtful composition. Generally I look for a composition that has overall balance and makes visual sense. It is "complete" in its form and the form of the composition compliments the content or subject matter. However, sometimes I go against all these ideas to make a purposefully off-balance composition. Composition is truly the realm of the creator and is one of the ways your personal photographic style will begin to come forward. When composing for Botanical Illustration you must visually dissect the plant and photograph its component parts. You can establish your own protocol for photographing plants but here is a list of the main images you should consider: The overall This overall image will show the general form of the plant and the relationships of all the component parts. This version will also give you a reference of scale for the individual components. Photograph the entire plant from several different angles. This will give you the visual reference of the three dimensional object. Leaf details - including shape and texture (hint - low angle sweeping light will show texture better) Stem details - including intersections of leaves and stem Bloom details from several angles - photograph from below, the side and above Bloom petals - including shape and texture (hint - low angle sweeping light will show texture better) Reproductive details - Show the shape and scale

Plant Specific Color When photographing have a sketchbook and set of pencils available so you can make your own color swatches and detail sketches to go along with your photographs. Plant Specific Lighting When possible photograph the details with lighting similar to that which you will reproduce in your art.

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