Today the photography club in which I’m a member went on a field trip to a botanical garden.
Since I’m not particularly a flower person I didn’t know what gear to take but, on the advice of the team leader, I added my tripod to the kit. Now I am a believer that the tripod is the photographer’s best friend but…well…I’ve changed my mind as it pertains to making flower pictures.
For one thing, it kept getting in my way and slowing me down. I found it almost impossible to handle when I’m chasing around the bees and the butterflies. After a half hour of wrestling with the tripod I found a better way.
Of course a tripod holds the camera perfectly still for the exposure. No debate there. But I wonder if the camera needs to be perfectly still.
My approach is this: With the program set on aperture priority and the ISO set on 200 I’ll adjust the aperture to f/4.0 or f/5.6 to get the desired depth of field and background blur. If I feel that the resultant speed is too slow (might make a fuzzy photo) I crank up the ISO until my shutter speed is, say, 1/250 second or 1/500 second. That is fast enough to effectively freeze the camera shake and swaying of the flower due to a breeze. Make the exposure: Tack sharp.
What I’ve described here is a work-around for the casual flower photographer – a compromise that the purist may think is a sacrilege.
So, before I get beat up about this I want to offer some caveats. If you are using a macro lens, the depth of field is so thin you will need a tripod to control the camera position. Likewise, a tripod will be needed if you are doing some focus stacking.
And here is another situation where you will need a tripod: If you don’t have an assistant and you want to set up a shade or a reflective screen for fill light you will almost certainly need a tripod (and a remote release) to make the photo.
Next time out for flower photography I’m going to leave the tripod in the car. But I might take a monopod.