Monday, May 7, 2012

Flower and Photo Questions Answered


Thanks for all of the nice compliments on the photos I shared yesterday.  My husband is the gardener - I occasionally do a little outdoor work but the garden is his domain!  First, I asked him to identify the flowers in the photos.

Bleeding Hearts
Daphne "Carol Mackie"
Dwarf Fothergilla "Bottle Brush"
???  Yellow Flower "volunteer" that just grew!

Here is one view of the side yard.  We have a fairly steep slope between our house and our neighbor and there is a short retaining wall.  The entire slope is planted with perennials and shrubs. 

A number of people asked about the camera I use.  I have a nearly five year old Nikon D40.  I use the "kit lens" (18-55mm) and I usually am lazy and just leave it on automatic.  Sometimes I use the "close up" setting (the one that looks like a little flower) and I turn off the flash for nearly all of my photos.  I  think this is a great camera - it was the "starter" DSLR camera in the Nikon line when I bought it.

I took this photo back in 2007, a week or two after I bought the camera.  I got as close as I could and there was bright sunlight in the garden when we were visiting our old town of Chatham, New Jersey.

Over the years I have had a lot of practice with my photo editing skills.  I use Memory Manager 3.0 from Creative Memories to edit and organize my photos.  It is easy to use, relatively inexpensive and has great  editing features.  I have tried Photoshop Elements but I prefer Memory Manager. 

The program also has some special functions for scrapbookers.  I can record the story behind a photo  (up to 5,000 characters) and keep it associated with the photo.  It also will let me plan out an album and resize my photos to fit several types of albums.  I can even create custom journaling boxes within the program.

The original of each photo is preserved no matter how many edits I make and I can tag a photo and place it in many folders without duplicating the photo and taking up too much space on my computer.  I can also sort very quickly to find all of the photos with certain combinations of people (father with both sons, kids with grandparents, etc.).

Back to the photo editing...

Here is the image of the bleeding heart straight from the camera.  I try to take photos from an angle that gives a nice viewpoint - I moved a bit to be sure that the second flower would show as a full heart with at least a touch of green at the edges.  For my blog, I generally change the images to squares by cropping.

You can make a lot of photos more interesting with careful cropping. 

I also make some color adjustments, sharpen the photo if it seems slightly fuzzy and sometimes increase the saturation of the colors to make the image more dramatic.  The "go back" button (undo) is a big help as you try different edits to create the final image that you like the best.

Here are a few more examples  - photo of a rhododendron - before...


...and after cropping and editing.


and after...


A very close crop can be very dramatic.

One more - before...

and after...


The other tip I have is to take lots and lots of photos.  One of my favorite things about digital photography is that I can take dozens of photos and reject all but a few at no cost (after the initial purchase of the memory card).  Someone mentioned that the breeze always moves her flowers when she tries to photograph them.  I have a "sport mode" on my camera that allows me to keep the shutter release button pressed down and take multiple photos.  One of them usually will catch the subject clearly even if a lot of the photos are blurry.


Sometimes you can hold the stem of the flower with one hand and shoot the photo with the other - a helper might be a better idea.

Some people feel that an image that has been manipulated is not "as good" as a great shot straight from the camera that has not been edited.  I think if you have tools that help you make your photos look better - you should use them!

If you'd like me to do a more detailed post showing all of the steps I take in editing a photo, just let me know.  In the meanwhile, I have lots of new crafty projects to share this week.

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  1. Was the Bottle Brush that I didn't know. Thank you.
    Not really sure but that little yellow beauty may be a Buttercup flower but not positive. (check out the link and see if it's it.

    Thank you once again on sharing your very lovely flowers and also the camera used

  2. Beautiful pictures, Thanks so much on all the tips for photo shooting and cropping, etc. Very helpful!

    Sherrie K

  3. Hi Diane, first of all your garden is beautiful. Thanks so much for all these tips, I have learned a lot. I would be very interested in a post detailing your steps for more detailed ways to edits photos.
    Have a great day.

  4. Gorgeous yard! What a great team you are. Your husband gives you the serene beauty and you capture it with photographic skills. Thanks for sharing the beauty and tips with us.

  5. Keep showing these things and I just may have to get Memory Manager. :) AND a DSLR!!

  6. I was just glued to the screen reading about those beautiful flowers and looking at your photography. My husband has a Canon Eos and loves it. I'm going to forward your blog so he can see your pictures. Tell your husband that the fern he has in his garden is considered a weed here and we pull them as fast as they come up!

  7. Hi Diane, first off Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful flowers...kudos to your husband and please keep first dslr was the Nikon D40...loved I have the Nikon D90 and trying to get off the automatic settings..:)...Thanks again for all your posts and please keep sharing...Mary Ann

  8. I would love to see your step by step editing of photos. I am currently on vacation and have taken hundreds of photos - only a few of which are good enough to scrapbook as is. Many of the photos include flowers and butterflies so any help in perfecting these photos would be appreciated.


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