With the way the garden is changing so rapidly, with flowers blooming and fading within 24/48 hours, and the fact we’ve had some rain, I thought I’d  capture the Bearded Iris while they’re in flower.

I love the way raindrops on black Iris look like fat, juicy droplets of blood…


Having read up a little on noise in close up shooting, today I kept the ISO to 400 or below and shot some images. I noticed that it was almost impossible to get a really sharp image (suspect as I was handheld only, but I can shoot sharp close ups by hand normally). I’m guessing this is the pay off somewhat with close up settings.


IMG_8084_edited_smHand held: f/5.6, 1/320s, ISO 100, 47mm focal length.

Later on I took this image – handheld, but changing the settings to f. 8.0, 1/640s, ISO 1000, 35mm. Still a low aperture to isolate the subject, faster shutter, sharper image. But look at that background noise.


Still, that’s why we have PS – to reduce noise, amongst other things! See below.


The background in the above image has been subjected to noise reduction in Photoshop. It looks less grainy (noisy), but the object loses some of its sharpness too. It seems to be all about pay offs between settings. I guess I’ll use a tripod more often and stick to a low ISO.


I’m a keen gardener and even keener when it comes to growing roses. David Austin roses are some of the best. During the summer months, I took a number of photos of my roses (having built a special rose bed). I used close up pre-settings, mostly, to see what kind of results I could get. No macro lens – just the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS lens that comes as standard with the body of my camera. Here are a few shots from the summer.


Being a horticulturist means I spent a lot of time with plants. There is a definite appreciation of nature, and the symmetry and beauty (and sometimes abstract nature) of plants for someone who works with them. It is only natural, then, that I enjoy taking photographs of them. I would love to purchase a macro lens and take close up images of plants – in the meantime, I utilise the close up settings on my DSLR and attempt some half-decent close ups. Otherwise, I’m on an ongoing mission to simply capture the staggering beauty and colours of a flower or a leaf. I haven’t managed to fully capture either yet.

Some of my attempts below.

August 10th 2014 Supermoon


Having been fascinated with the night skies and, in particular, the many wonderful and mesmerising phases of the moon, I have always wanted to know how to take those amazing close-up, detailed shots of the moon and thus try to capture its essence. So, as with anything, you do a bit of research, try a few settings out…and then realise that the best close-up, truly detailed images of the moon are taken using cameras attached to telescopes! I don’t have a telescope – yet.

So, the next best thing is your trusty DSLR on its own, with a decent zoom lens. Of course, my zoom lens isn’t even that decent. So, we make do. I have a Canon EOS 60D with a Canon 18-55 mm IS lens, and a Canon 75-300 mm III zoom lens. Not brilliant. When I can afford them, I’ll get better. Learning to use a camera doesn’t require expensive equipment. Right?

So, I did a little bit of digging to find out the ‘ideal’ settings for taking shots of the moon using my simple 300 mm zoom lens, and then experimented.

Naturally, at first you assume you need to add light to the image. Nope. You’re actually looking at a reflection of the sun, so you take the image in the same way that you would take an image in a sunny situation. Same settings. The ‘Sunny 16 rule ‘ works ok for taking shots of the moon, sometimes. However, after numerous attempts over the last year or so, I have come to the conclusion that a setting of f/11 1/125 ISO 100 gives me the best results.

With the recent August 10th 2014 “supermoon” event, it was another excuse to try and get a decent shot. The moon was 13% brighter and 30% closer to Earth on this day. I only took a few, in the end, as it was cold and I’m a wuss (it’s true – I hate the cold). I then pulled the image into an image editing application and simply adjusted the contrast, deepened the colour slightly, and increased sharpness. Here is the result.

August 10th 2014 Supermoon
August 10th 2014 ‘Supermoon’