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by Phil Ball

Q. Spring is here at last! Flowers are blooming and it looks to be a colorful spring here in Arizona. Any tips to help with photos of spring wildflowers?

A. Spring wildflower blooming always gets my heart thumping and this looks to be an especially good year. Actually, wide areas of flowers can seem a bit overwhelming at first so my advice is to just stand still and calm down. Take a variety of images. Fields of flowers may grab your attention and are certainly interesting to shoot to show the extent of the blooming but don't forget to slow down and concentrate on details, too.

Most digital cameras are capable of moving in close using their built-in macro function meaning that almost any camera or phone can take good quality close-up photos. Those poppies are almost overwhelming when they are spread out over wide areas but take a close look at the center of just one flower. For a variety, try a different angle than straight on. Try getting under the flower and shooting up or outwards to give a feel for life from the flower's point of view. Try standing back and zooming in to make the flower stand out sharply from its out-of-focus surroundings.

Pay attention to the light. Many fine photos can be taken on bright, sunny days but actually, overcast can give a lovely soft light that highlights the beauty of the flowers without the overwhelming interference of strong dark shadows or bright overexposed hot spots. Soft overcast light lets the true beauty of the flower shine through.

If your day isn't overcast, try throwing your own shadow over the scene. Often my wife and I work together; one of us works the camera while the other throws our shadow over the area to soften the light. For variety, try shading just the background while exposing for the flower which is still in sunlight. This isolates the bright flower against a dark background, simplifying the image and emphasizing the flower. Most of all enjoy the beauty of Spring in Arizona!

Published: Courier 4/7/13 - Page 3C