Taking photos of trees

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Taking photos of trees

Post  Stphilbert on Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:09 am

Hello all,

I didn't find this topic using the search engine, Perhaps I didn't look hard enough!

I am particularly interested the best lighting options (without breaking the bank) and how should the light be directed. Any other recommendations (set up, background etc..) would be great. My photos need much improvement.

Thank you,

St

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  attila on Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:23 am

hello

use a tripod for your camera and try to use diffused light means not direct sunshine or table lamp or in camera flash ( if you use table lamp direct it at the ceiling to make diffused light) as it cast very strong shadows. find a light background like a bedsheet or some light material even a towel or a piece of paper.

regards
Attila

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  Stphilbert on Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:40 am

Tanks Attila this is very helpful.

St

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  marcus watts on Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:27 am

Hi,
I have an alternative (and completely opposite) method. Black backgrounds work very well for the trees and allow you to use the flash - both indoors and out. White or pale backgrounds need more thought to the lighting or a slave unit otherwise you see a shadow of the branches behind the tree, you simply dont see the shadow on a black backdrop.

Outside i just staple a 5ft wide piece of black cloth to the fence, drape it over the bench in a smooth curve and put the tree on top. I think every main picture in my Gallery was taken on tthis cloth. Camera is good but not extra special - older canon eos400D, and of course adobe photoshop - nothing fancy, mostly auto correct, crop, resize and one click of sharpen, then save for web.



All told nothing was spent other than the cloth, and this winter i recreated the same in the garage - all the pine pictures were done indoors.

cheers Marcus

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  Kev Bailey on Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:44 am

Very good tips so far. For the most complete answer though, you can't beat this page. http://octavia.zoology.washington.edu/bonsai/photography/

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  JimLewis on Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:52 pm

If you can ignore the tree (one of my neglected Ficus kept indoors for the winter), this is my "setup." It is very simple: A plain, off-colored wall, a stand and a light from overheat right and daylight through a glass door at the left. Never an on-camera flash. Even with a black background to hide the shadows behind the tree, on-camera flash gives unattractive flat lighting to the tree, masking its shape and creating a very two dimensional image.




An image taken with this setup:



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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  Poink88 on Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:47 pm

JimLewis wrote:...Never an on-camera flash. Even with a black background to hide the shadows behind the tree, on-camera flash gives unattractive flat lighting to the tree, masking its shape and creating a very two dimensional image.
For us who have to work and have "cheaper" cameras...sometimes not using the flash is not an option. Unless it can wait until the weekend.

I will try the dark background later and take time setting the tripod Embarassed . Thanks!

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  JimLewis on Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:49 pm

For us who have to work and have "cheaper" cameras...sometimes not using the flash is not an option. Unless it can wait until the weekend.

Gosh. I thought all digital cameras allowed you to adjust the ISO rating (light sensitivity) of the camera, but maybe not. Anyway, the black background may fiddle the "mind" of your camera's light meter on one of the "cheapies" so your exposure may be messed up.

If you must use an on-camera flash, drape a thin handkerchief in front of it. That will soften the harsh light from the flash and reduce the shadows behind the tree. At the very least move the tree 2 feet away from the background.

As in many other things electronic, camera prices have gone down. You can get a very decent point-and-shoot now for $150 - $200.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  Poink88 on Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:08 pm

JimLewis wrote:
For us who have to work and have "cheaper" cameras...sometimes not using the flash is not an option. Unless it can wait until the weekend.

Gosh. I thought all digital cameras allowed you to adjust the ISO rating (light sensitivity) of the camera, but maybe not. Anyway, the black background may fiddle the "mind" of your camera's light meter on one of the "cheapies" so your exposure may be messed up.

If you must use an on-camera flash, drape a thin handkerchief in front of it. That will soften the harsh light from the flash and reduce the shadows behind the tree. At the very least move the tree 2 feet away from the background.

As in many other things electronic, camera prices have gone down. You can get a very decent point-and-shoot now for $150 - $200.
Jim,

My older camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35) is probably better than the 150-200 out right now but the lens speed is lacking and will result in "grainy" photos if I push it in darker setting. I know professional cameras can take crisp pictures in certain light conditions where mine can't. I usually shoot in aperture priority mode.

If I diffuse the light from the flash by covering it with translucent material, won't it under expose? I am assuming the camera factors in the flash in its focus.

I would move the tree farther if they are not too big!!! LOL My tri-fold is sometimes not sufficient for some of my collected "stumps". Very Happy

Thanks!

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  Stphilbert on Wed Mar 07, 2012 4:01 am

Thanks all, this is great stuff, it is good to hear different opinions and approach.

Jim I think your ficus looks great, I have been looking for a willow leaf fig, not too much choice in the NW.

St

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  marcus watts on Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:00 am

There are also two reasons to actually take the photo in the first place - to record a progression or to study 'faulty' bits needs a brighter well lit picture. These pictures are for nothing more than record keeping so there is no point in fancy lighting, moody shadows or any special effort really. In my gallery there are many quick snaps taken on the benches etc, and then one picture of most trees with the black background & tripod

Once you have a tree that you are considering to exibit it is time to take a better picture as this lets you really look at the tree as an onlooker would. Now you can see the small faults that need correcting, branches that are misaligned or areas of the outline that need tweaking. I guess that the quality of the picture and the tree are totally linked together with the refinement needed.


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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  JimLewis on Wed Mar 07, 2012 6:50 pm

marcus watts wrote:There are also two reasons to actually take the photo in the first place - to record a progression or to study 'faulty' bits needs a brighter well lit picture. These pictures are for nothing more than record keeping so there is no point in fancy lighting, moody shadows or any special effort really. In my gallery there are many quick snaps taken on the benches etc, and then one picture of most trees with the black background & tripod

Once you have a tree that you are considering to exibit it is time to take a better picture as this lets you really look at the tree as an onlooker would. Now you can see the small faults that need correcting, branches that are misaligned or areas of the outline that need tweaking. I guess that the quality of the picture and the tree are totally linked together with the refinement needed.


I disagree -- somewhat. I can see no reason to not take the best picture you can take, whether it's for record-keeping purposes, to help with the design or redesign, or for art's sake. Most -- if not all -- outdoor shots of bonsai have such messy backgrounds that the picture is useless for anything.

When I'm looking for self-help for design, I fiddle with the photo to make it more an abstract shape than a tree. That seems to help ME see what needs to be changed. Here's an example -- B&W and posterized:


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Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  my nellie on Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:41 pm

The above method that Jim describes is really very helpful for me, too.

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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  Guest on Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:48 am

Sometimes I took photo of trees in the garden for documenting the progress of the tree but I always try as much as I could to provide a good background to get the best details that I can have for future reference.






Sometimes I took photos when I just wanted to take one even when I am drinking a beer or two, but nonetheless I am still trying to get a plain background for future reference





Sometimes I took photos for tracking the progress of the tree but still I tried to get the most decent one I can have




I believe photography is a beautiful art by itself, so I tried to capture from time to time an artistic image of my tree and background and foreground...for art sake Wink





I always say to my self- I am not spending a cent for the film of my camera Razz or a dime to have it developed...so what the heck, I'll experiment with everything even with the lights and some cheap special effect, just for fun.







Having a full light effect is not always applicable for me, really depends on the emotion I wanted to capture.












This 2 photos below will probably have different effects...









some needs full lights too...




.........So I think it really depends on the purpose of the image a person wanted to capture. But, the objective should always be clear.


regards,
jun Smile


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Re: Taking photos of trees

Post  Bolas on Thu Mar 08, 2012 11:51 am

The power of Chi...

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Re: Taking photos of trees

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