When you come upon an abundance of flowers blooming before you, you may feel like shooting a single flower up close, but how do you turn it into a great-looking photo that fully utilises the space around the flower as well? Using a telephoto lens, I will introduce a way to take photos featuring several layers of bokeh circles. (Report by: Sayaka Suzuki)
Bokeh layers are best created with an aperture that is not too narrow, not too wide
When you stand in front of a beautiful row of flowers, it’s tempting to get up close to shoot the flowers with a macro or a bright, wide angle lens. However, even if you manage to capture the flowers themselves beautifully, it is difficult to convey a sense of the space around the flowers. In this case, a good idea would be to try using a telephoto lens to incorporate the objects in the foreground and background cleverly into the narrow space by overlapping them in layers. You will be able to create photos with a highly compact and dense sense of space.
An aperture of about f/5.6 - 6.3 is preferable. If the aperture is set larger than this (smaller f-number), the details of the subjects representing the space will be lost in the bokeh. On the other hand, if the aperture is set smaller (by increasing the f-number to f/8 - 11 etc.), the line of sight becomes easily broken as there will many areas with clearly-defined contours, resulting in a photo that has too many things happening in the same frame.
If the photo is taken in backlight on a clear day, you can include light shining on the leaves as bokeh circles. After the rain stops, the rain drops sparkle, creating even more bokeh circles.
EOS M10/ EF-M55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM/ FL: 200mm (320mm equivalent)/Aperture Priority AE (f/6.3, 1/320sec, EV±0)/ISO 400/WB: White fluorescent light
I took the row of rose buds from the side instead of the front. I wanted to capture the barely visible pink roses in a sea of green by overlapping the light shining on the leaves with the rose leaves forming several layers.
Point: Place the lens among the rose plants
I placed my lens among the blooming roses for this shot. Since I couldn’t use a tripod, I held the camera in my hands and determined the composition by using the LCD monitor screen in Live View. I focused on a rose blooming in the front. Doing so allowed me to blur the plant in front, resulting in an expression with a sense of denseness. I recommend that you take the photo in backlight as the light shining on the leaves will glitter brilliantly.
Tip #1: Get up close to the flowers to create an engaging shot
EOS M10/ EF-M55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM/ FL: 124mm (198mm equivalent)/Aperture Priority AE (f/5.6, 1/200 sec.)/ISO 200/WB: Custom
A telephoto lens not only shows a close-up view of objects far away but also serves to cover the distance between you and the subject. Therefore, when you rely on the inbuilt capabilities of the lens to take the photo, and don’t get up close to the subject yourself, the photo is likely to lack engagement with the subject.
Tip #2: Create bokeh circles using the raindrops on the leaves
EOS M10/ EF-M55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM/ FL: 124mm (320mm equivalent)/Aperture Priority AE (f/6.3, 1/60 sec.)/ISO 200/WB: Custom
To beautifully capture bokeh circles, it is important to have backlight and to have several subjects with good light reflectance. When there are many rain drops that remain after the rain stops, the backlight will reflect off the rain drops, thereby creating a lot of bokeh circles.
Working with the lens: A compact and light lens is the perfect companion
The lens I used to take the photos in this article was the EF-M55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM. The good thing about this lens is its light weight. A lighter lens improves your mobility and staying power when shooting. Although I do carry many lenses while walking around taking street photography, there are times when the key to taking a great shot depends on how fast you can fit the lens that you want to use at the moment that you want. Also, a small and light lens means that it can be replaced quickly. Moreover, when you remain in a fixed posture for an extended period of time so as to not miss out on a photo opportunity, you will also not lose concentration halfway through if the lens is light.
Apart from its reasonable price, the good thing about this lens is that it is more than sufficient for capturing photos that you can leave behind as works of art. If you like to get right into it with your subject a lot like I do, there is no worry about damaging the subject if the lens is small. Besides, it also lets you take shots with consideration of those around you, so you can shoot casually without having to go to great lengths. This is a smart lens to add to your arsenal.
EF-M55-200 mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM
EOS M10＋EF-M55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
After graduating from the Department of Design in the Tokyo University of Art and Design, Suzuki started work at a video production company. She also apprenticed under the producer Tan Hakata. After learning about video production and editing, she was an apprentice to the photographer Shin Yamagishi, and then went independent in February 2012. Currently, besides photo-magazines, she has expanded her range of activities to include mainly CD jackets, advertising photos, and video photography, etc.
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