As it's St David's day Daffodils are our focus today. Not everyone will have seen them bloom yet, but this doesn't mean you still can't have a go at this technique. Instead of using Daffodils in your garden, cheat and buy a bunch or two from your local florists or supermarket. This also means you can shoot them in the comfort of your home or venture outdoors. Of course you'll need to work outside if you want to use real rain, however we found creating a man-made 'rainstorm' made it easier to control the final look of the image and it also means only the flowers get wet and not you or your gear! Do take care when working indoors with water as you don't want to ruin your carpets or get any electrical equipment wet.
The techniques we cover can also be revisited later in spring when daffodils are fully in bloom and hopefully the weather is warmer!
You can take any number of different approaches in terms of lens choice, but a macro lens will give you the option of being able to focus very close.
A tripod is needed to support the camera if you want to take the blurred water approach, or you could go for faster shutter speeds and try off-camera flash too.
Try placing a flashgun behind the daffs to create a backlit effect. You can use a lighting stand, a helper or tripod to hold the gun.
You will need a water can to produce your 'rain'. Use a large watering can if you want a real deluge or use a smaller one with a fine rose for a less pronounced effect. Experiment with both if you have the option.
Ask For Help
Set the camera up on the tripod and with your lighting and daffs organised, you are ready to start shooting. It is possible to use the self-timer to do this type of shot, but having a helper to provide the 'rain' while you concentrate on composition and focusing makes life easier.
Position And Water Flow
For the blurred water technique, just position the daffs so they are backlit and shoot using a slower shutter speed during the 'rainstorm'. Getting a good steady flow of water is important so it is best to time your shooting carefully.
Pick a camera viewpoint that gives a clean background and avoid anything too distracting like a fence, tree or wheelie bin. A dark background will make the water stand out while a plain light-toned background looks great but the poured water will not show up very effectively against it.
Slow Shutter Speeds
To get the 'rain' nicely blurred you need a slow shutter speed so experiment with speeds from 1/90sec and slower. Setting a small aperture and a low ISO might be needed to enable this. Do one or two shots, then ask your assistant to stop while you check out the results. Change camera settings as necessary and then try again.
If you're an OM-D owner or plan on purchasing the new E-M10 you have the advantage of using a Live Bulb option so you can use a longer shutter speed but actually see the image as it develops on the touchscreen and in the viewfinder so you can stop the exposure at just the right time.
Experimentation is even more important if you are mixing flash with daylight. Try positioning the flashgun behind the daffs and it is also worth trying different shutter speeds to get a mix of sharpness and blur, which can be very effective.
For more information on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 visit the Olympus website.