Flower Photo Focal Point

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Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro' with background of Gingko leaves yellow fall color
Camellia sasanqua flowering shrubs, 'Kanjiro' (fore) and 'Yuletide' with background of Gingko leaves yellow fall color
Camellia sasanqua flowering shrubs, ‘Kanjiro’ (fore) and ‘Yuletide’ with background of Gingko leaves yellow fall color

Every autumn when my Camellia sasanqua shrubs begin to bloom I marvel at how well they do in California. Then, when the ginkgo trees turns butter yellow, I go crazy to photograph them.

The trees are now big enough so that they can become a uniform yellow background for tight shots of the flowers.  Flower photography improves immensely when the background is complementary and not a distraction.

Today, I was so enthralled with how well the yellow stamens of the Camellia ‘Yuletide’ matched the color of the gingko leaves, I could not decide on the composition. I knew I wanted a narrow depth of field, so that the flower would really stand out against the background, but focusing between the front and back the image created very different photos.

For these two images I used a 105mm macro lens and aperture of f:5.6, a very shallow depth field for this moderate telephoto lens.

Before and After Slider

Deciding on the focal point in flower photography creates strikingly different images depending on the precise focus point. The two photos show two very different ways to appreciate the beauty of the Camellia but the basic composition is the same.

I couldn’t imagine trying to do this without a tripod which allows me to carefully consider the merits of each composition.  With the tripod locked down and the basic shapes and colors in good balance the only variable is the focus point.

I still can’t decide which of these two images I like the best. I suppose I don’t have to decide on the best.

Kona dog watching Camellia sasanqua flowering shrubs, 'Kanjiro' (fore) and 'Yuletide' with background of Gingko leaves yellow fall color
Kona dog watching Camellia sasanqua flowering shrubs in my garden

Kona dog? Do you have a favorite ? Follow my morning hikes with Kona on Instagram: #walkswithkonadog

More about focal points in garden photography in Chapter Two of the award winning e-book Think Like a Camera.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Saxon, great work on this site. I love it. Well done. You are my hero. My brother has a black lab called Kona in Santa Barbara. I hope you all the success with this new site.

    • Thanks Gerry but getting this site running smoothly pales to the great work you have done with Garden Soft. I can’t imagine all the details you must deal with.

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