Flower photography – DIY Studio

A bright sunny day may look like the perfect day to get outside and start capturing some flower photographs. However, in reality it can cause harsh shadows and blown out highlights.

How can you control the light that you have? One solution is to use a light tent. You can place this over the flower that you are shooting and it will produce softer, lower-contrast lighting.

As well as diffusing direct sunlight, light tents add more controlled light on dull, overcast days. This is done by placing the light tent over the flower and then place an off camera flash outside of the tent to simulate sunlight. Instead of the harsh light you would usually get from the flash you get a much softer light.

It also allows you to control the background by either using the white background of the light tent or placing coloured paper as a backdrop.

A light tent also reduces the possibility of the subject moving on windy days as it is protected.

Landscape Photography Tips

Sunset Photography

  1. Make a first attempt – conditions will change rapidly so get a few shots done quickly using a wide angle lens
  2. Move back and zoom in – move away from your subject and use a zoom lens
  3. Play with light balance – change the setting from Auto to either Sunlight or Cloudy white balance setting
  4. Use picture controls – if you can (and have the post processing tools) shoot your images in RAW as you can change the white balance later
  5. Hide the sun – place the sun behind other objects as it may be too intense to photograph
  6. Shoot the sun – wait until it is near the horizon before you do this


  1. Don’t be afraid of grey days – this allows for slower shutter speeds which you need to be able to blur the water
  2. Shoot after heavy rainfall – heavy rainfall means there will be more water cascading over the waterfall
  3. Go low with your ISO – it should be set to around 100 or 200 to allow your slow shutter speeds
  4. Shoot RAW not JPEG – set your camera to shoot in RAW format to ensure the best quality of images
  5. Three legs are better than 2 – make sure you take a tripod with you to sturdy your camera
  6. How slow? – Select the narrowest aperture of your lens (around f/22) and choose a shutter speed of around 1/4 secs
  7. Go even slower – if you have a ND filter you will be able to drop your shutter speed even more.

Garden Photography

  1. Narrow view – the longer the lens, the further away you stand the more flowers will be packed into the frame. This will allow you to choose which blooms are displayed in your image
  2. Pick a flower – choose just one flower to focus on and set the AF area mode to single point
  3. Get up to speed – keep your shutter speed fast to avoid camera shake and ensure that the flower is in focus and as sharp as possible
  4. Exposure compensation – use exposure compensation to brighten or darken the shot. With white flowers this should be around +1.0 EV. Dark backgrounds may be the opposite

Autumn Photography

Autumn is the most photographic of all the seasons. The once green trees turn to shades of red, brown and yellow. The misty mornings give landscapes an eerie feel and animals start to make last-minute preparations for hibernation or put on dramatic displays.

Stag silhouettes

Stags lock antlers in ferocious battles as they compete for females. This takes place from September to November.

It is best to shoot from a distance for safety reasons as they is a small chance that they could attack you. A long telephoto lens with a wide aperture helps to separate the deer from their background.

A classic image is to shoot into the light on an early, misty morning.

Autumn portraits

With the low sun in the sky you will be able to get a well-lit shot without the need for flash or reflectors up until late morning or from early afternoon, simply face the models into the sun.

Throwing or kicking leaves adds a sense of movement and fun to the shot. Use aperture priority mode on your camera with an aperture of around f/4.


The golden hour – directly after sunrise or just before sunset – is the best time for photography as the light has a soft, warm quality. Usually meaning you have to get up early to make the most of it.

However, in Autumn sunrise gets later and later. Plus the sun stays lower in the sky for longer meaning that the ‘hour’ lasts a little longer.

Always shoot with the sun behind you to capture elongated shadows or into the sun for dramatic sunrises. Plus a set of ND filters usually come in handy.


Autumn can be a busy time for animals as they prepare for winter. It is important to learn the habits of your target species. Make sure you use a telephoto lens so that you don’t get too close and scare them off.

Composing your best shot

There are several techniques that you can use as a beginner to improve your photographs. The more you practice and use your camera the better your pictures will be.

Leading lines

Leading lines is the most common means of composition. It is a technique which draws the viewers eye to the main subject of the image using lines. You can even make the leading line the main subject of the image.

Using the foreground

Using the foreground is the strongest and most commonly used feature of composition. It can range from a single or collection of features, colour, texture, pattern, or actually anything that catches the eye.

The simpler the foreground the better e.g a single colour or feature results in a better composition as there is a single point for the viewer to focus on.

Cropping the image

Cropping allows you to focus further in on a certain part of your image. It is always good to have an idea of the final crop in your mind when taking the image. Ensure you keep to consistent aspect ratio when cropping the image to ensure it is pleasing on the eye.

Rule of thirds

This can create a balanced image by placing the main he intersection of the 3×3 grid.

Be aware that the eye maybe drawn to the centre of the frame so use this to your advantage.

If you wish to create a greater feeling of space put your subject closer to the edge of your frame.

Placing your horizon

If you want to give the sky impact then go for a low horizon and look for an isolated feature to act as base for the horizon.

When positioning the horizon go with the flow of what feels right and conveys the message to the viewer.

Photographing with a broken thumb

Last week I was away on holiday in Cornwall and usually would have taken a kit of two DSLRs and several very heavy lenses. However, the Sunday before we were due to go away I dropped two dumbbells on my thumb being the very smart person that I am and broke the top of my thumb. This meant that there was no way I would be able to hold the lenses that I use due to their weight. My plan use my iPhone.

Now I know that the camera technology in smart phones has greatly improved over the past years but it still isn’t quite at the same level as that in my DSLR but I was extremely impressed by the panorama functionality it possessed to the extent that I actually became secretly obsessed with it taking a panorama wherever I possibly could. The one thing I did notice is that you can’t zoom in two close to items otherwise things start to become noisy but for general landscape images it was brilliant.

I have to admit that I will use my iPhone for more images and not just the usual selfie when out and about with friends. Though I do have to confess I seem to have started some kind of thumb selfie trend!