Tulips burst out of the ground in a rainbow of colours and their vibrancy and shape make them perfect photographic subjects. Now, we know not everyone has green fingers but just because your garden's lacking flowers isn't a good enough excuse for not trying this technique. Pack up your gear into your camera bag
and venture to your park, local gardens or, if you're like us who have a council who love flowers, you may even find them in barrels and planters at the side of the road and around your town just waiting to be photographed. If you do opt for the latter approach just watch out for the traffic and don't risk your life running onto the grass in the middle of a road just because it has some particularly nice tulips on it!
1. Pick The Right Lenses
To get in close to a tulip pick up your macro lens or a telezoom lens. If you're heading off to photograph an entire field of bloom a wide angle lens such as 10-22mm or a 20-35mm would be good but if you don't have one take your telezoom along and stand further back just remember this will give the image a different perspective. This lens will also be more useful if the field doesn't have public access and you need to stand on a track or path out of the field which does.
2. Use LiveView
Working at the same height of the tulips will give your images impact so LiveView would be useful as you'll be able to see what the viewfinder sees without actually having to use it.
3. Make Sure You Stay Dry
Take a waterproof sheet or even something as simple as a bin liner or a kneeling pad you use in the garden along. If you don't, you'll soon regret it when your knees are damp and dirty.
4. Consider Using A Tripod
A tripod will help reduce camera shake but you'll need to splay the legs and, if possible, adjust the centre column to get closer to the ground.
5. Avoid Windy Days
Unless you want a blurry shot of tulips dancing in the wind, you just have to sit back and wait patiently for the wind to stop blowing. If you're not the patient type invest in a Wimberley Plamp or to save some cash, try using small pieces of wire to hold the tulip still. If you choose this option don't forget to take the wire home with you and frame your shot so you don't have any pieces of wire poking through. You could try getting out of bed a little earlier too as there's usually less wind, you'll sometimes find dew drops which will add interest to the shot and the light's better.
6. Deal With Dark Shadows
If you're not a morning person and are out taking photographs during the middle of the day watch out for deep shadows. You should try using a piece of white card as a reflector to direct the light.
7. Make Colours 'Pop'
Investing in a polarising filter means you'll have something to help reduce glare and as an added bonus, enhance the colours of the tulips too. Try using the sun to back light the flower. You'll see detail and texture you may not have picked up but do keep an eye on the exposure as the camera may try to underexpose the shot.
8. Go Close, Low And Wide
There's plenty of different techniques you can try to give your images a different look or feel. Get down close and really focus on one tulip, using a large aperture to really throw the background out of focus or if you have a mass expanse of flowers, use a small aperture and a slower shutter speed to capture the entire field. You could even use your telephoto lens to pin-point one flower in the mass of colour and focus your attention on that. Try starting with a wider shot then slowly change your focal length until you're focusing on the detail and colours which attracted you to the flowers in the first place.
Visit www.manfrotto.co.uk for more information on Manfrotto's bag ranges and more.