Telephoto Flowers

Dahlia - Andy Sears

Dahlia – ISO320 – 1/250sec f5.6 – 200mm

While most of the time I use my Sigma 105mm macro lens for garden photography, one of my lesser used telephoto lenses is the Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6 Non-VR Bought second-hand this lens rarely sees the light of day, but on the occasions I have used it, I have been pleased with the results.

Using this lens at the 200mm end actually makes flower photography that much easier, giving me more room to manoeuvre. The depth of field is more forgiving than the macro lens allowing me to capture the full bloom while still separating it from the background. It is also lightweight and gives me the benefit of other focal lengths if needed.

The lens itself does have one major drawback on the autofocus front. It is slow, very slow. Although slow to focus, it does seem to do a good job (given time).

The different viewpoint offered by the telephoto lens is completely different from that of the macro lens. While detail matters I find myself looking at the framing much more closely with the better depth of field using the background flora proved beneficial to the end result.

The Nikon 55-200mm non-vr lens is available second-hand for under £70 and proves to be a real bargain, and offers more flexibility in not just flower photography but in general usage as well.

Pick up the Nikon 55-200mm from MPB



Dahlia Raindrops - Andy Sears

Dahlia Raindrops ISO500 – 1/200sec – f6.3 – 200mm


Rudbeckia - Andy Sears

Rudbeckia – ISO320 1/400sec f5.6 200mm


Cosmos - Andy Sears

Rudbeckia ISO 320 – 1/250sec – f8


















The Old Lamp

Still Life – The Old Lamp

Creating a scene for still life photography can be easier and cheaper than you think. The props here consisted of:

  • Candle Garden Lamp – Bought from local garden centre (Could just use a candle).
  • Brick Background – Amazon £15.32 – Click here
  • Old set of keys bought from charity shop  £3.00 – Also available on Amazon
  • An old dictionary I had lying around.
  • Piece of paper with rough cut-out
  • Torch

The setup can be seen below, prior to lighting the candle. The only lighting used was the ambient lighting of the room, the candle in the lamp and a torch to create the bars effect on the background.

Behind the scenes - old lamp


Initial setting for the camera were ISO400, f6.3 and 1.6 seconds using a Niklon D7200 and 50mm f1.8 lens. Once the image was captured, camera raw was used in Photoshop to correct the colour of the lighting to give it more of a glow, add some vignetting, dehaze and lowering the highlights helped enhance the camera flame, and also the lighting for the bars on the back drop.

Lastly any visible creases in the background were cleaned up using the spot healing tool in Photoshop. Two images were produced, one colour and one black and white conversion using Google Nik Silver Efex Pro.

The Old Lamp

The Old Lamp in Black and white

As you can see the two images offer a completely different feel to the scene and with some simple props it is easy to create an atmospheric still life.

Revisit your RAW files


Revisit your RAW files

When I first started to shoot using RAW format for the photo files, the processing of the files was daunting, I could get near the results I wanted but a lot of the files were saved to archive never to see the light of day again.

As I have learnt more and become more confident in all the adjustments I can make, Exposure, White Balance, Clarity, Sharpness, Cropping and much much more. Add together RAW processing and the multitude of options in photoshop, you can soon see that that discarded files can often be saved.

rawThe options of converting to black and white with an adjustment layer, can change a poor colour balanced file, in a dramatic mono one. Crop and Rotate allow you to be more selective on the final view. The possibilities are endless.

Of course the final image still needs to look good and be believable, trust you instinct, most of the time it is quite obvious when the processing has overstepped the mark.

Drag out some of your older files and give it a go, after a few months learning RAW processing, you will now know how to lift them colours, make your blacks black and your whites white. Crop out the bits you do not want.

Spending  little time on some past images that you thought were not good enough, may surprise you, and will add to your learning of RAW processing.

Try high speed photography on a budget.


strawb-sugar-setupYou can try out high speed photography without sophisticated / expensive flashguns and lens.

A little bit of trial and error, will not only get you some results, will also get you using more of your camera settings. It is also a great way to get some photography in during the dark winter months.

The strawberry and sugar setup as you can see it basic. On camera flash, 18 – 55mm kit lens and a few bits and bobs. The hardest part was securing the strawberry in place.

Focusing was done view live view on the cameras screen, getting as much of the strawberry in focus that I could.

DSC_0503The simple black card background worked ok, although the on-camera flash did cause some light to fall on it, which was removed in photoshop using the levels.

The result on the right while not stunning provided an acceptable image for a first attempt at high speed photography.


DSC_0129A similar setup was used for some water drop photography, the attempts to catch the right drop proved a bit hit and miss, but decent results were obtained in the end. I purchased a cheap £25 flash from Amazon, not TTL but does allow me to set the flash power right down low to get a faster flash, supposedly 20,000th sec, but who’s counting. The addition of another Amazon bargain, a £10, radio flash trigger, allowed the flash to be moved off camera.

Using off-camera flash, allowed better control of lighting, allowing me to bounce the flash of the white card background as in the water drop picture here.

Another gadget I have picked up recently is the Triggertrap remote trigger device, again a low cost gizmo coming in at around £30, connecting this to my iPhone gives me all sorts of trigger options to play with, motion, sound and more.