A few weeks ago, I visited Garvan Woodland Gardens. Garvan Gardens is a 210 acre botanical garden located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The flower displays are amazing, and there is something in bloom year-round. The Gardens’ main attraction is the tulips that bloom in April. I made my visit about a week after the tulips were at their peak. The displays were still incredible, but I can only imagine what they must have looked like the week before.
The image above is one of the photographs I made during the trip. I faced two challenges while I photographed these flowers. The first was lighting. Outdoor photography is usually best done under overcast conditions that provide soft, even lighting. Many people think bright, sunny days are ideal for outdoor photography; but, this type of lighting often causes a high degree of contrast which results in either the brighter areas being overexposed or the darker areas being underexposed. If someone is simply shooting a snapshot, over- or underexposure usually isn’t much of a concern. However, for fine art photography, overexposed highlights and underexposed shadows are almost never acceptable. Another problem with shooting in bright lights is that the colors will often appear too light and won’t be as vibrant as they would be on an overcast day.
I couldn’t do anything to change the day from sunny to cloudy. But what I could do was try to find subjects that were in the shade. And that is what I did for this image. The tulips were in an area that was shaded by a large tree, so I didn’t have to worry about contrast. However, this presented the second challenge: the slight breeze that was blowing that day. In order to maintain maximum depth of field, I was using the smallest aperture on the lens, f/22. That meant I had to use a relatively long shutter speed, which in this case of 1/30 of a second. The slow shutter speed combined with the breeze would cause the tulips to blur, which was not what I wanted. To solve this problem, I set up the shot and waited, and waited, and waited some more. Finally, there was a lull in the breeze and the flowers quit moving. That’s when I quickly snapped the shutter and captured the image.
Settings: Canon 5D Mk II, 200mm, 1/320 sec, f/16