By Tim Schreiner

You get to enjoy your garden blossoms for a few months every year. Why not carry that enjoyment through the winter months and coming years ¬¬— and share your garden with friends — by photographing the drama in your yard?

Then have the best photos framed or printed in a self-published coffee table book so that others can appreciate the beauty of your garden for a long time. You’re proud of your gardening, right? Save your favorite flowers of the season, savor them, and show them off.

A few simple tips will help you take better photos of your flowers.

Take a portrait of your flower the same way you’d photograph your grandchild. Fill the frame with the subject. It doesn’t have to be in the center of the frame but help us see what you want us to see. Portraits of single flowers are much more interesting than photos of a wide swath of your garden.

That means you should get close. Don’t stand across the yard, or even five feet away, and hope to get a good portrait of your most beautiful blossom. When you think you’re close enough, take a shot. Then get closer. The entire flower doesn’t even necessarily have to be in the frame. (When you take a portrait of your grandchild, you often leave out legs, torso, even maybe the top of their head.)

Unexpected results show up when you get really close. Arty, even abstract images can be beautiful. And there’s nothing wrong with a close up of pistils and stamens in a flower.

Of course, the results will always be sharper if your camera or iPhone is on a tripod. But if you don’t have one, find something solid such as a bench, a ladder, and rest your camera on it. Try to hold it really steady when you press the shutter. And take several shots. One is likely to turn out.

Flower photos look better when the background is blurred. That way the viewer knows exactly what to look at. You can achieve this in a couple of ways. If you’re an experienced photographer with a fancy camera, use a large f/stop (it’s the small number such as 2.8, 4.5, 5.6, 6.3). If you have a simple camera, use the mode represented by the flower symbol. It will help blur the background and keep the viewer’s focus on the flower itself.

Before you press the shutter button, look at the flower from several angles to check the light and determine what angle shows off the flower to its best advantage. Don’t forget to get down low — and sometimes light coming from behind, and through the petal, makes a great photo.

If a flower is beautiful and has great tone and contrast but not great color, try changing the result to black and white, which can make for a very dramatic photo. One thing is sure: The more you shoot, the better your photography will become.

Of course, you can frame photos yourself or have a professional frame store do it for a dramatic presentation. There are several services that will print your photo book for the price of what one nice frame would cost.

Tim Schreiner is a professional photographer who lives in Vermillion. He recently completed the South Dakota Master Gardener course and is now a Master Gardener Intern. His professional photography website is: www.timschreiner.photography.

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