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Tips On Photographing Artificial Poppies

How to photograph the poppies people wear/place for Remembrance Day.

|  General Photography
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Today is Remembrance Day, a day that commemorates the sacrifices of armed forces and civilians in times of war. During this time, you'll find people wearing poppies as a mark of respect and poppies will also be placed on memorials. These artificial poppies can make an interesting photographic subject and if you don't want to head to a memorial while people are there, wreaths tend to be left for several weeks so there's ample time for you to take a few shots.

Bleaklow
Peter Bargh photographed this poppy that had been left to respect airmen who crashed on the Derbyshire moors. This is part of the wreckage found on Bleaklow, Peak District.

Gear:

A DSLR such as Nikon's D600 and D800 or a compact such as Nikon's COOLPIX S9300 can be used for this. Make sure your compact has close focusing capabilities so you can fill your frame with single poppies, while a wider lens will mean you can include more of your surroundings in the shot with the wreaths.

A tripod's handy but not essential but if you're working in a place where lots of people walk through you may be best working hand-held so you don't get in the way.

A polarising filter may be needed to cut down on reflections from the monument if made from marble.

Technique:


Respect

Memorials are places people go to reflect and pay their respects so be respectful and don't get in anyone's way. If you want to take their photo as they place a wreath, always ask first. Not only is it polite, it also means you don't have to rush trying to get your shot before they leave. Watch your backgrounds when shooting portraits as you don't want to get home to find out a lampost is sticking out of their head or an unsightly rubbish bin is pulling attention away from what should be the focus of the shot.

Tall Structure

Monuments tend to be tall structures so watch out for converging verticals, which can be exaggerated if you're using a wide-angled lens, if you're planning on capturing the whole thing. With wide lenses it's much easier to crop in on the monument slightly, focusing on interesting detail and using the park, town or city you're in as our background.

Single Poppy

If you're working with a compact, switch to macro mode (usually a flower symbol) so the camera knows you're going to be working at close distances.

Have a look for parts of the monument that have interesting detail such as patterns in the marble or even inscriptions as cropping in so just a few words from the inscription on the memorial are visible with a poppy sat over them can make an interesting still life. If you do move a poppy to a different park of the monument do put it back after you've got your shot.

If there aren't any single poppies but are plenty of wreaths, switch to a larger aperture on your DSLR to create an out of focus area of red to single out a poppy from the group.

Colour Boost

You can increase the contrast between the stone/marble and the poppies to make them stand out more by underexposing your shot slightly. Then, if you think they need a little more punch, adjust the contrast of the shoot in post production to make the poppies 'pop'. You could also use selective colour to really make the poppy stand out from its background.

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