Botanical artists and natural science illustrators do not always have the time or the opportunity to work from live specimens. Photography can fill in the gaps where time constraints, and other circumstances can prevent getting all the information needed for a successful and accurate painting. Nancy Richmond is our expert photographer on our fabulous "Bugs, Beasts, & Botanicals" Artist/Photographer Tours. To help prepare you for going on a field trip, an afternoon in the backyard or someplace exotic here are Nancy's Simple Tips to taking better photos:
Come on Get a little CLOSER….. don't be shy!
Picture this….. You are strolling back from sketching in the rainforest, and suddenly you see a funky, spiky caterpillar. All your drawings supplies are packed up, but you have your trusty camera. So you take a picture. When you get back home, it looks like a spec of thorny dust on a leaf. You thought you got a good picture, but it is way too small to really see any detail. DRAT! What is an artist to do????
Get closer……..closer…. come on even closer!
You have 2 options:
1. If you are not afraid of the critter (some spiky fellows can be poisonous if touched so be careful – getting closer doesn't mean touching it), switch your camera to the macro setting. This is the flower setting on most digital cameras. Ok now, steady yourself and physically move your camera in and out to get your subject in focus – don't zoom with your macro – it won't work!
2. If your are a bug-a-phobe, take a few steps back and switch to your telephoto lens to get the little fellow bigger in the viewfinder. With a telephoto, you stay where you are and "zoom in" using your lens. This allows you to bring the subject closer without risking your finger to a poisonous bug – or worse – a snake!
Most photos have more impact when you single out your subject and make it more prominent. If you have to search your photo to find your subject, you can do better!
Sign up for free updates for Tips & Tricks for Botanical Artists & Natural Science Illustrators
Zooming with the macro ON does not work? Drats. I have some photos that I have done that. Will remember that next time I use the macro (which is a whole lot).
Zarina~ You can use the zoom but you must be farther away to bring things close in. If you get close, switch off the zoom and go for the macro setting. You will get really clear photos with lots of detail this way.