I’m always on the hunt for beautiful floral finds to feature on Flowerona and earlier in the year I discovered the wonderful work of photographer Phil Hutt when I was on a weekend break in Dorset.
His photos were part of an exhibition in Lyme Regis and I was wowed by his stunning flower photography.
Phil very kindly answered a few questions for me. (And included lots of details about the intricacies of photography…my new passion!)
When did you start taking photographs of flowers and where are you based?
I have always been interested in natural history and my attempts to capture wildlife through photography started about ten years ago. After starting by concentrating on bird life, I gradually extended my range to include insects, landscapes and finally graduated to plant and flower photography about five years ago.
Before I retired, I was lucky enough to travel the world on business and I managed to find enough free time to take flower pictures in exotic places such as the botanical gardens in Sidney and the orchid gardens in Singapore.
However, I find just as much beauty and opportunity for pictures in the plants that I find closer to home in East Devon, where I have lived for the last quarter century.
What type of camera and lens do you use?
Since turning to digital photography, I have always used Canon DSLRs, progressing through their range and taking most of my images with a 450D. I recently splashed out on an EOS-1 D, which I am gradually learning how to use properly.
I take most of my pictures using a Canon 100mm macro lens, because I like the abstract images that can be obtained from close-up and macro pictures.
However, I also use a Tamron 70-300mm, a Sigma 105mm macro and a Sigma 10mm to 2mm wide angle lens. Canon also make a f1.8 50mm lens for about £80. It’s horribly plasticy and hunts to find an auto exposure, but if you can get it right, the quality is superb.
Do you have any tips for budding floral photographers?
This seems a bit presumptuous, as I’ve only been taking photographs for a relatively short period of time myself, but I suppose the main things that I try to remember are:
Always use a tripod – when you take pictures of flowers, you quickly come to realise that there’s no such thing as a wind-free-day! (Either that or use the motion to get a different effect in your pictures)
Try some real close-up shots, it’s remarkable what a difference it makes to your view of the world.
Don’t look down on flowers. Well not all of the time anyway. Try some different angles, viewpoints and depths of field to get some really creative effects.
There’s lots more, but the best advice is just to go out and take pictures and look at the different effects you can achieve. Oh, and there are lots of really good books on flower photography for the short days and long nights of winter when you’re tired of taking pictures of fungi!
What are your plans for 2011?
I had my first exhibition in May, alongside four really talented artists from the Town Mill Arts Guild in Lyme Regis. Their advice helped me a great deal and I’d really like to do some sort of collaborative project, or another exhibition.
I also want to enter some competitions such as the RHS photographer of the year, or the IGPOTY, just to see how far I still have to go to compete at that level.
Do you have a favourite flower?
We have some beautiful ancient woodland in East Devon and seeing the daffodils, primroses, ransom and bluebells always cheers me up after a long winter. I also love the overdone effects of some of the protea that I’ve seen at Eden and the Abbey Gardens.
However, if I had to make a single choice, I’d choose the helenium; I love the way that they change colour as they mature and die off; partly because I spent ages trying to get a good portrait of one against a black background; and partly because having taken it, lots of people bought the prints and cards I made from it!
Many thanks to Phil for his help in putting this blog post together. Do take a look at his website for lots more wonderful images of flowers.
P.S. I think I may have to start saving up for a macro lens!
(Images : Phil Hutt)