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Photography Question 
Wayne Brabender

How to Shoot Flowers and Other Plants

I've been asked to teach a two-hour photo workshop in July to high school kids on how to take good photos of flowers and other kinds of plants, from trees to vegetables. The session will be held outdoors at a farm that will provide photo opportuntities of gardens, trees and farm crops. The kids are being asked to bring their own cameras. I've taught informal photo seminars for years, so I'm prepared to present the rules of composition and other basic photo information. But I've never taught horticultural photography before. Any suggestions on good web sites or other sources that I can study to prepare my session? Thanks.

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3/29/2003 4:35:00 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/27/2001
I don't think this would be that much different from photographing other things. What is specifically done depends on what is desired for the photograph. Approach it from the formal elements:
- point
- line
- shape
- texture
- space
- value (highlight versus shadow)
- color
Lighting and compositional arrangement of these creates the photograph. One of the tasks you might think about is asking students to isolate these formal elements in their work . . . to make several photographs using each of them in turn as a single, principal element. It will get them thinking about how to use formal elements in a horticultural venue.

One of the surprising things found with many plants is symmetrical geometries and repetitive shapes.

Another aspect is exploring horitculture at different levels of scale. There are many things to be found on a very large scale (repeating rows of crops - shape and line) downward to a macro and then to a micro level. Doing things on a very small scale does require some tools for macrophotography, but if you have some of these at least they can be exposed to what it is, how to look for these things, some of the tools for it and the techniques for using them.

A few websites with horticultural and agricultural stock photographs:

-- John

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3/30/2003 2:33:02 PM

Tony Sweet
Tony's Photo Courses:
2-Week Short Course: A Quick Start to Adding More 'Pop' to Your Images
  John L. pretty much nailed it down!

In addition, you might want to be able to teach the plant and flower names to the kids, at this very intellectually absorbing part of their lives.

You may want to bring several diffusors and reflectors in the event of harsh sunlight. That would be a very effective lesson on the different qualities of light and how harsh light can be effectively managed.

But, the most important thing of all is HAVE FUN!!

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4/1/2003 4:56:58 AM

Wayne Brabender   John and Tony,

Thanks for the helpful feedback on topics and tools. I plan to share a list of recommended web sites with the kids, as well as shooting tips and photo samples of horticultural subjects, with an emphasis on scale and formal elements. I like the idea of adding scientific names of the plants. And, of course, keeping it fun is always the key to teaching success. Let's hope the weather cooperates!

-- Wayne

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4/1/2003 7:33:04 AM

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