Flower power / by Mario Mirabile

I used to photograph flowers a lot when I first got a DSLR because they were easy targets. Not necessarily easy to photograph - they can in fact be complex and difficult subjects - but they were patient and pretty, and didn't complain if you pointed a camera at them. I learnt a lot shooting flowers, including some of the more subtle aspects of focusing and exposure, and even complex techniques like focus stacking.

I try to keep my hand in, not least because I need a dozen or so images for the calendar I produce each year as a Christmas present for friends and family. The challenge is to produce images that rise above the simple snapshot. A macro lens (like my beautiful Olympus 50mm f2.0) helps to reveal the hidden beauty of even the simplest blooms, but you don't always have to get close. Some blooms, like this orchid, have an elegance of form which would be lost if you got too close.

I don't do it as often as I used to, perhaps because I'm not as reticent as I used to be about taking my camera into the world beyond my back yard. I think the turning point came when podcaster Jim Harmer made the observation that there are photographers famous for shooting people, landscapes, and any number of other subjects, but not flowers. While I'm not necessarily seeking fame through a lens, there's no point making it any more difficult than it needs to be.