Ten Tips For Taking Good Pictures Of Rhododendrons
(Highlights of talk given to the Connecticut Chapter by Robert Strindberg)
1. Get close so the truss fills the frame. When the subject is wider than tall, hold camera horizontally. For small trusses or for single flowers, add portrait or close-up # 1, 2, and 3 lenses, which are not expensive. Use a tripod especially when taking close-ups.
2. Avoid bright sun for better color. Shade with a plastic umbrella or sheet of plastic to avoid hot spots, or take pictures when there is a thin cloud-cover.
3. Use a reflector or mirror to get light on the shaded side of the truss. Crumpled aluminum foil, flattened out and fastened with masking tape to a one foot square piece of cardboard makes a good reflector.
4. Eliminate distracting background such as fence, house, stake, or other flowers. Avoid having bright sky show above flower. Shoot down to avoid the sky, or use a backdrop such as velvet or a dull card.
5. A strobe is useful if the light is poor, or if a breeze makes the subject move even slightly. Two strobes, one on each side of the camera, bring out the roundness of the flower.
6. Hold the light meter (or through the lens meter) six inches from the flower to get the correct reading unaffected by light or dark background.
7. Kodachrome 25 or Agfa reproduce color very closely if exposure is correct. Take two additional shots, one with ½ stop greater exposure, and one with ½ stop less exposure.
8. Backlighting improves picture, especially reds or deep pinks. Use natural light or a second strobe in back and to one side. Shield lens with lens hood.
9. For close-ups of small clusters or of single flowers, showing stamens and blotch, better results are obtained with help of bellows, or macro lens, or extension tubes.
10. When photographing a shrub, if flowers are few and scattered, may be better to concentrate on only a section of plant.