Corner Iris Picture

Digital Photography Tips

by Margie Valenzuela

By invitation I sit here writing this article, and as I do, I am honored to write and share whatever tips I may have. I hope these tips I share will prove helpful and beneficial to all those who wish to take better photos of our much loved flower - the iris.

A few years ago, I began my photo adventure with irises. The first thing I noticed was that irises (just like us) have "bad hair days" too. So, here are a few tips on how to photograph irises at their best:

  1. When taking a photo of a particular variety of iris - search for the loveliest specimen available. The lovelier the specimen, the lovelier your photo. (If no flower lives up to it beauty - wait for another day)
  2. Walk slowly around the chosen iris, looking for its best side. You always want to capture its best side.
  3. Be aware of how shadows and light play on or behind your chosen specimen. Look at it from all angles. Sometimes light streaming in from the side or behind the iris will cause the iris to look more luminescent. Shadows can create a dramatic look. Early morning shots, or evening shots, tend to soften the look of the iris being photographed. With every shot, one needs to work with nature.
  4. Be aware of the background. What textures are available to accent the iris, or to cause the iris to stand out? Most of the time you just need to work with what's there. However, if you have irises in pots, you can move them to different locations creating a more suitable background that would tend to enhance the flower.

Next, working with your digital camera is another major area with which to familiarize yourself with. Here are a few tips I learned over the last several years. (I currently use a 4 year-old Sony DSC-S70 digital that came with a Carl Zeiss MTF lens which does a top notch job in reproducing the subject for clarity and contrast.

  1. Digital zooming deteriorates the picture quality. So....... it's best not to use digital zooming, but if you choose to, do so only slightly in conjunction with the use of a higher resolution.
  2. I find the best photos are taken when I use a higher Image size/resolution (like 1280x960 or higher). It does take up more space on the memory stick and the size is quite large, but it's worth the clarity. Investing in a larger memory stick is definitely worth the investment.
  3. Up-ing the Sharpness Level and/or Focus Level option in conjunction with the higher resolution - - makes for great computer photos, reproduced photos on photo paper, as well as poster size print-outs. To sharpen/focus more - click the up arrow to +1, or +2, etc. until you reach the desired setting. That should work for correcting any deficiency in sharpness.
  4. Using a 'macro' option on the camera can make a world of difference in the clarity of close-up photos.
  5. Many digital cameras also have a built in microphone - so you are able to record the name of the iris (or subject) as you are taking the photo. (That comes in very handy!)
  6. Later, on the computer I can cut away the excess, without cutting away the size of the desired subject or reducing the quality of the photo. If I do reduce the total size of the photo it's still better quality than beginning with a lower resolution/Image size - such as 640x480.

An important step for finishing up one's digital photos is using a computer program (such as Paint Shop Pro, or Photo Shop) to help with cropping, additional sharpening or softening if needed, etc.

Note: Photo quality IS compromised a little though when compressed for displaying the photo on the internet, so expect some deterioration.

In conclusion, I hope if anything I shared here enables you to take better photos - then this article has done its job. Personally, I find the longer I have my camera and experiment with it, the more I find my skills improve. So shall it be with you. And like you, I too am still learning tips along the way with every photograph I take.