What better way to start out a day workshop in the Santa Cruz Botanical Arboretum than on a sunny one!
Students met up with Alicia and I at the welcome entrance of the Arboretum, donning our sunscreen and getting our macro lenses ready. We started the day with an orientation, finding out more about our returning students and great interesting tidbits about our new students. Most of the students enjoyed gardens/gardening and even "critters" as we deemed it during our introductions.
It was good to find out that our students seemed that they knew how to work their cameras well – Alicia pointed out that it's actually more challenging and exciting for us to squeeze out all the knowledge that will help with more advanced questions.
We then began our journey through the lovely Arboretum, starting with a review of the use of aperture, especially for macro botanical/flower photography, starting with your aperture wide open to get a very shallow depth of field and playing around with it as you figure out how much of the flower/s you want in focus.
The first area, students spread out and examined different local flora. Everyone seemed to huddle around flowers that were heavily populated with different bee species – from big bumbles to the ones that could – OUCH – sting. Fortunately, we had no bee sting casualties but instead, fun shots of bees perched on flowers as they made their merry way. Alicia and I went to each of the students to see compositions and how their aperture openings were working wit their particular flower subjects.
It was great to see the students had a great eye for different perspectives to otherwise the same the subjects in their photos. We then kept walking towards some more flower areas, learning how to find parts of the plants that were in shade for a more even exposure/light. Some were worried about how dark these photos would look on the computer screen but we decided to play around with bumping up the ISO so that the sensor would be more sensitive for absorbing light – thus, a brighter exposed image. We also made sure to give the frame of our photos some more negative space so that the main subject, our flowers, would have "room to breathe" in the frame. We bumped into a hummingbird or two, trying to catch shots of them as they dove in and out of our frames. Lizards made us tread carefully as we tried not to scare them away from our cameras. One student even caught a glimpse of a garden snake. We then decided to take a quick snack break, as we discussed more of the workshops the Aperture Academy had to offer as well as equipment that would be ideal for specific subjects we wanted to shoot. Alicia set up the camera on a tripod for a fun, jazz hands group shot, surrounded by nature and good energy.
We walked to the last area of the trip which was the Succulent Garden where Alicia taught the non-macro lens users a neat trick – turning your lens over and using your body movement to put the subject in focus for a surreal dreamlike quality to your image. All-in-all, it was a great day shooting beautiful flowers in the sun and learning how to keep that nice shallow depth of field and even exposure to shooting flowers during midday.
Until next time, Alicia, Danielle and the entire Aperture Academy team!
P.S. If you'd like to join us at one of our workshops, you can find the schedule/sign up here.