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I was extra excited to teach the Botanical workshop on this warm and sunny Saturday morning! The season was a bit farther along and I knew there would be more photo opportunities for this group! I had the pleasure of teaching with Danielle Rueda, one of Aperture Academy’s new instructors and she was more excited than I was! We always start with the infamous introductions, allowing people to give the instructors an idea of what they want to get out of the class! Today’s main requests were composition and how to use the macro lens. A lot of people ended up renting macro lenses specifically for this class. For the students who didn’t have a lens, I taught them my secret on how to capture macro like images, with their standard lenses!
I started the World tour route in the opposite direction & we began with the succulent gardens, I gave the group with a refresher on ƒ/stops, shutter speeds, iso and how they all work together in the exposure triangle! In the arboretum, there are three tiers of succulents, allowing us to spread out, as well as look for a multitude of shots! We spent around 30 minutes, which could go quickly when you start seeing at a macro level.
Across the path, the South African gardens awaited us with wildly blooming pincushion flowers (Proteaceae) The sun reflecting in to these plants resembled fire as red, orange and yellow glowed on the backs of the LCDs on everyones cameras. I took advantage of this vast, round flower and took a few snaps myself to share a depth of field test. One shot at ƒ/2.8, one at ƒ/8 and finally, one at ƒ/22. While all were beautiful, the consensus favored ƒ/8 for this particular shot. I constantly remind my fellow photographers that it is important to take a few shots at different ƒ/stops, to see which works best for the shot that they want.
One of the Arboretum staff members approached me as we were ready to head off to the next stop, and shared a new find! She had come across some sort of egg sac that had encapsulated itself, and then attached itself to a leaf. She was excited because she had never seen anything like it, and waiting patiently while 3 of us snapped away at her palm. Her worker’s glove was purple in color and set off the little pod nicely! I was pleased to hear the students who got a shot, would share the file with the gardens when they returned home.
Cusping the edge of the New Zealand gardens with over 2,000 plant species to capture, we then moved deeper in to the gardens and landed in the Banksia Field of the Australian Gardens. Here the volunteers and staff have nestled two bustling mounds of exotic plants and flowers, with all sorts of textures and colors to find- the beauty and diversity of these shrubs, and with over 2,000 species, forms, and cultivars is the largest collection of these plants outside of their homeland, impressing even Australia. We were in the foreground of a row of beautiful California Redwoods and I thought what a perfect place to take the group shot! I went against my rule of shooting portraits in the sun, because composition one this round. Finally, I shared the rule of thirds, showing a sample photo on a spiraling, blooming flower- along with the differences of shooting own on top of a flower, shooting it from the side & also from underneath!! Even though it is the same flower, you can obtain very different images just by changing your position!
We definitely put the diffusers to use on this day, while teaching natural light manipulation and a perfect example of absorbing color! It was hot, bright and gorgeous. A day full of learning and shutter snapping, I guided the group back to the front of the arboretum- while reminding them not to go home and put their cameras down! But rather go home and continue shooting to further absorb the knowledge they had just spent time gathering. I told them all to send me edited pics, as I love seeing the final product and giving feed back! I hope to hear from them!
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.