Workshop For Improving Flower Show Entries

On April 17, Denver Botanic Gardens’ official photographer, Scott Dressel-Martin, led us through some basics regarding better picture taking. He showed us examples of some simple guidelines to accomplish this by focusing on the three classes for the upcoming flower show. We were fortunate to look at his work and to hear explanations on how to achieve more professional results. By working with him directly in the gardens, we were able to use some of these techniques firsthand.
The number one factor is shooting at the right time of day when the light is at its best!Yes, that is in the wee hour of the morning or at dusk which Scott refers to the “golden hour.” Better light will give you better dimensionality and color saturation. We were shooting mid-morning, so Scott demonstrated how to help filter the light by using the translucent disks made by Lite Disc. He bounced light onto the side of a stem producing a darker shadow that created more dimension. A white disk uplifted gave more definitive light to a flower’s face, that otherwise would be dark.
A new term for me is “bokeh.” This is a photographic term that relates to the quality of the out of focus background. Honestly, I have never thought about this much, but looking at Scott’s plant portraits, you can see how the blurred background well executed can really highlight the plant. So how can you achieve this when you are using an iPhone? The newer phones have a portrait mode that is perfect for this. For DLSR users, you can use the aperture priority setting to keep the background blurred and the plant in sharp focus. 
Regardless of surrounding light or DSLR versus iPhone, if you choose an imperfect plant specimen to shoot, your photograph will suffer. Take some time and “root” around to find the right plant and the right environment to take your pictures. Get down and look at all the angles and see where you can find a suitable “bokeh” and plant to take that winning photo!