Here are some tips for photographing gardens and flowers from Allen Rokach and Anne Millman, authors of "Focus on Flowers: Discovering and Photographing Beauty in Gardens and Wild Places":
*A 35mm camera is the preferred camera because of its portability, its adaptibility and its through-the-lens viewfinder.
*A 55mm macro lens is good for close-ups, but screw-on magnifying lenses (+1, +2, +3 diopters) are less expensive alternatives.
*A tripod is a must for flower photography to maintain sharpness even with slow shutter speeds. With a tripod, the photographer is free to concentrate on composition and technical matters.
*Several filters are recommended. A polarizing filter removes unwanted reflections and glare, and helps deepen the blue of the sky. A 1A skylight filter protects the lens. A soft-focus filter helps create a romantic effect.
*Look at your subject from all directions, become aware of the background and check the edges of the frame so that only what is important to the image is included.
*Creative use of available light can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. Analyze light in terms of intensity, direction and color.
Translucence requires that light pass through the flower from behind. Sidelight brings out texture, line and form. Early morning and late afternoon light bathe a scene in a wash of color. Misty light after a rain saturates and enriches colors.
*For greater exposure accuracy, take a meter reading within 6 inches of the flower and lock in that reading before composing the shot.
*Proper exposure is always tricky, so bracket to ensure good results. Start with a shot at the meter reading; then overexpose and underexpose by one full f/stop. Underexposure deepens colors and darkens backgrounds, while overexposure produces pastels.
*To increase the area of sharpness -- called depth of field -- use the highest f/stop (smallest aperture). Adding light, with a reflector or flash, makes it possible to use a higher f/stop.
*Look for lines and shapes to help structure your composition. Strong diagonals, such as paths in a garden, create a sense of depth. Curves and radial patterns add visual interest.