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After my first failed attempt to capture total photographic glory at Canberra’s annual Floriade colour explosion, I ventured back for another shot, so to speak. This time without the little’uns in tow – lesson learned.

I went armed with a Canon SLR, a point and shoot and an IPhone, because options are good. It was a weekday (less crowds), the flowers looked great, I had lots of time. Destined to be a triumph. How hard can it be to capture some really good shots of the flowers, after all?

Very bloody hard, apparently.

Oh, it wasn’t a total failure, but getting the light and focus just right is a constant challenge. And I refuse to simply defer to Mr Automatic Mode! Surely I have to be at least as smart as him? Surely.

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But in regard to handing out Floriade photographic tips, I have decided to defer to a couple of others who have chronicled some excellent tips. (Good job, guys). Have at look at their suggestions:

Floriade photography guide for beginners – from the ladies at So Frank

How to photograph flowers – from the Digital Photography School

Or listen to this podcast via ABC with tips from Geoff Comfort and Ben Kopilow:

Instead I proffer a couple of my own suggestions, which will also serve as a reminder to myself for future expeditions.

  • Keep an eye on your light meter AND your AEB (automatic exposure balance). Some cameras exist with a sneaky resident micro-gnome who rattles around inside the camera and who delights in changing the AEM without your permission or even knowledge and chuckles at the havoc he creates. And yes, I own one of those inhabited cameras. This little known larrikin plays havoc with the lighting of the photos you thought you had so nicely balanced. Grrrr. (At least I know now how to change it back quickly! Now to work out what causes it to change. Solutions welcomed.)
  • The middle of a bright sunny day is a lovely time for a stroll through a pretty park, but the lighting can be harsh and not the easier for creating those fabulously artistic shots you may have in your head. Given Floriade’s open between 9am and 5pm, there are limitations, unless you go to NightFest to take in the lights, or take a special Floriade photography tour to get in early before the crowds and when the lighting is better. Well, maybe next year you can, because applications closed in August. Never mind. Put it in your diary for next year.
  • Look for the unexpected or take a different angle. (Everyone says that but there’s a lot of people taking shots from down low or from straight on top.) Sometimes there’s some really interesting shots beyond the flowers.
  • Delete. Delete. Delete.
  • Wear a pair of pants who don’t mind getting nasty dirty-knee patches on.
  • And just because it’s Canberra, don’t forget to pay for your parking. Nasty buggers out there trying to catch you out.
  • Persevere! And enjoy the spring.

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And if you do end up with some masterpieces, share the joy on social media or perhaps enter in the ABC’s photo comp.

Maybe I’ll have to have another wander through…

If you’ve got any great tips, don’t be shy.

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