- TIPS ON HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH YOUR IRIS by Carol Barbian
When we were still using film cameras with a limited number of
exposures, the temptation was to get everything in each exposure
so that we could record EVERYTHING with each roll of film used.
Thank goodness for digital. Now we can take as many photos as
the memory card will hold-often more than 500-immediately see
what we've captured and delete those deemed less than desirable.
This article will focus on a few tips for photographing your
iris. I am by no means an expert, but I was fortunate enough to
win the first annual iris photography contest and I am
interested in producing a calendar for our Society, so perhaps
what artistic knowledge I possess I can pass on.
Iris are beautiful flowers with a distinctive shape. The French
fleur de lis is based on the iris shape. Showing that shape to
best advantage may be your first challenge. Get eye level with
the iris to capture its profile. Let one perfect blossom fill
the whole frame, but leave a small space around the flower to
show its form.
Viewpoint is a special consideration. If you stand above the
flower and look down at it, you will not capture the shape to
best advantage, but you may end up with a semi-abstract close-up
of the throat or beard or stripes like a Georgia O'Keefe
painting, capturing two or three in various stages of opening
would be interesting.
Backgrounds may detract from your perfect photo. Learn to see
everything in the frame. If your camera can blur the background
while sharply focusing on the flower, that would minimize
detractions. A plain gravelly background will showcase your
bloom. Having a few leaves in the picture puts it into context.
Donna Dowell had a lovely photo taken at a show of an iris in an
arrangement with the plain fabric background.
Contrast will greatly aid the readability of your photo. Light
colored iris will look best against a dark background. This may
not happen in a natural setting. A piece of poster-board behind
your bloom may bring out the best of the flower. Having an
assistant to hold the poster-board works better than trying to
juggle camera, shutter, background, point of view, etc. with
only two hands. Of course, some of you may use a tripod which
holds your camera absolutely still.
Exposure and focus may be automatic with your camera as mine is.
If you can manipulate these on your camera, you know more than I
do. I believe that sharp focus produces much better photos than
fuzzy or soft focus. If you are photographing outside and there
is a slight breeze that causes the petals or stalk to sway, your
focus will not be sharp. You also cannot control outdoor
lighting. Cloudy overcast will result in No shadows and softer
prints than strong sunny midday times. The best lighting occurs
in early morning (may be stiller) or late afternoon when the sun
is oblique not overhead (which washes out color). You may want
shadows on your flower. You may want some backlighting (which
can result in a more unusual photo and therefore more
If you want more than one iris in your photo, be aware that each
bloom will command attention and the overall effect my be
diminished. Odd numbers are usually more pleasing gas is
differing sizes. The same kind spaced out is more interesting
than bunched multi-colors. The wide view of the whole garden
will show off abundance but not the beauty of each iris. There
is a place for that kind of photo, however, in the splendiferous
display of rainbow color.
I hope these tips will help you get the very best photos you can
of your iris that our Society can produce a top notch calendar
fund raiser and object of beauty for our own homes as well as
provide lots of competition for the next photo contest.