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