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Blossoming out: The Photography News Podcast #3

Posted on Apr 30, 2020

We’re in the spring months, which means now is the perfect time time for photographing blossoms, albeit in a very quick shoot.

As discussed in episode three of The Photography News Podcast, if you’re a landscape photographer, like me, certain things will excite you. And one of them is seasonality. We naturally want to get out and shoot when it has snowed in winter, or the leaves are turning in autumn. It’s because these elements change and elevate a scene, giving it context and meaning.

Spring is no different, and the signs of it were everywhere in the last month, with bags of cherry blossoms in particular. Like snow, red leaves and so on, blossoms and flowers add a distinctive flavour to shots. It’s unmistakably spring time. 

But of course we’re in lockdown, too, so although I knew I had to get out and start photographing blossoms, it had to be done in a sensitive way. I paced around, wanting to go out and do it, but not feeling like I should. Eventually my wife got annoyed and told me to just get on with it. Wives are good like that. 

My main issue was not wanting to use a tripod or spend too long. I guessed it was fine to take some shots in my local park, basically as part of my daily exercise, but I didn’t want to hang around too long, or set up legs because that just seemed to be pushing it. A bit like laying out a beach towel and switching on a radio. No Hanami picnic for me.

Shooting handheld meant adapting slightly, but I was always going to defocus the blossom in the foreground as much as possible with a wide aperture, using it to frame the subjects, rather than be the main focus. It’s about the context that the blossoms offer, after all. To emphasise the blur, I used a 70-200mm f/2.8 and a 50mm f/1.4 pretty much wide open in both cases. I used image stabilisation where possible, and in both shots, steadied myself on the ground or leaning against a tree. 

Overall the shots took only about 15 minutes, so I didn’t feel too bad about my excursion – and when I got home, I felt a lot better, having had some exercise and let off some steam with camera in hand.

Be sure to listen in to the podcast for more insights like this. In episode three, we offered our opinions on the best cameras of all time, discussed the realities of real-world macro photography, questioned if more pixels is really better and more. You can also expect a host of ideas for you to try at home and how-to guides to go along with them. Over the three episodes to date, we’ve covered found-object still life, photographing dyes in water, taking product shots in the bath and more.

Listen now on the website, or on YouTubeSpotify or Apple Podcasts. Email in with your questions, suggestions or stories at [email protected]

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