Rock Garden Quarterly Summer 2012 - (Page 208)

Photographing Alpine Plants: A Landscape Point of View david SellarS On pages 206 & 207 there are the details of the 2012 Photo Contest. In 2011 David Sellars was winner of 4 of the 6 categories. Here he reflects on what lies behind his approach to plant photography and gives some tips that can help any member take better pictures. alpIne plants are often splendidly situated on rock outcrops with soaring ridges above, green valleys below, and the surrounding stark beauty of the high alpine terrain. Capturing an image of such a tiny plant together with the immediate habitat and overall mountain context is challenging. In many alpine plant lectures, two photographs are shown, one of the plant and flower, and a second, from further away, demonstrating the habitat and scenery. I have even seen published images fudged using Photoshop with the plant artificially superimposed on the habitat. But in some special circumstances, it is possible to take a single image that includes a close-up of the alpine plant, and at the same time conveys the character of the plant community and mountain landscape. Finding a flowering plant with an attractive background that can be included in an image requires continual observation, and covering a lot of ground. Only about one in a thousand plants are suitable for a photograph from a landscape point of view. Once you have found a plant with a background that will work, the next step is to set up the camera for the type of image you prefer. My personal preference for alpine plant photographs is to have the entire image in focus whenever possible. The photograph of Phacelia sericea on Slate Peak in the eastern Cascades contrasts with the snowy peaks of the high Cascades in the distance which are as sharp as the flowers in the foreground. The zone of sharpness in a photograph is called the “depth of field” and it extends in front of and behind the point where the camera is specifically focused. The size of the zone is determined by three key factors - the aperture of the lens, the focal length of the lens, and the “focus distance” which is normally the distance from the subject. I maximize the depth of field by using the smallest aperture possible and taking the photo with a wide-angle lens to reduce the focal length. In addition, I use a Sony DSC-HX1 digital compact camera (other advanced compact cameras would provide the same key features). The image sensor is very small and with the lens on maximum wide-angle the focal length is only 5 mm. This, by itself, gives much greater depth of field than the equivalent for a 35 mm camera where the equivalent wide-angle lens has a focal length of 28 mm. 208 Rock Garden Quarterly Vol. 70 (3)

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rock Garden Quarterly Summer 2012

Digital Quarterly
Expanding Panayoti's Axioms
Photo Contest 2012
Photographing Alpine Plants: A Landscape Point of View
NARGS 2013 Election Timetable
Rock Gardening from Scratch - Seeds
Kim Blaxland and the Violets of North America
Viola pedata
Violas, Kim, and Us - A Celebration
Cooking Native Japanese Plants
Carl Gehenio Memorial Trough Show
Fire in the Hole: Phlox across Colorado
Rebuilding a Rock Garden in Pittsburgh
A Remarkable Garden: David Douglas and the Shrub-steppe of the Columbia Plateau
Bookshelf - Reviews
Swedish Dreams
Treasurer's Report
Bulletin Board
2012 - Eastern Study Weekend: October, Pittsburgh

Rock Garden Quarterly Summer 2012